Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Loving London.

So remember when I said that I was making myself unavailable for my birthday? That's because I was on a plane to England that night. I hopped the pond, met my dad, roommate, and longtime friend for two weeks of exploring. And it. was. fabulous.

Two weeks is quite a time to pack into one post so I'm going to break it down by location. I think that's most manageable, especially because I'm a gusher. I feel in love with literally every local.

Our first stop: London. We spent three days in Londontown and somehow avoided the stereotypical rainy weather. It did not rain once for us and was in the mid-50s. Serious luck. I've been to London before so this was more of a trip to hit the highlights for my companions and the things I missed. After three days though, I still have more on my list. I'll be back, London.

So. Day by day. And I hope I didn't get the Step by Step theme song stuck in your head just then.

The first day was a wash for me. My plane into Paris was delayed, therefore causing me to miss my connection. After a bit of exhaustion-induced/thinking-my-trip-was-ruined crying, I got a flight to London around 830 PM. Once there, I met up with my Dad, roommate Cat and friend Kate for a bite to eat and some Harry Potter re-enacting at King's Cross Station.

Platform 9 3/4: the 2006 and 2012 version.

That night (and for our stay) we stayed at The Rushmore Hotel. It was great for our purpose, which was crashing after running around from 8 AM - 10 PM daily. The hotel was right off of the Earls Court tube stop, on the line between Zone 1 and 2 on the tube map (which meant the commute was short and the tube rates were within the acceptable limit for the Oyster card we bought and used for our time), and it offered continental breakfast. Without getting into too much detail, the Oyster card is the card for the metro (read: tubes). We didn't want to look like newbs, so we bought a card, put about 20 pounds on it, and then returned it and had our money refunded at a tube station before we left (which is a great perk).

I don't know how much detail to include without boring you to death.

So day two. We started with a walk around Buckingham Palace for some photo-ops.

Then we hopped on a bus for a three-hour tour of some Harry Potter film locations. Now before you judge me for my extreme nerdiness, know that Kate was just as excited. Cat, not so much. And somehow I got Dad to start reading the books so it made more sense for him. The tour allowed Kate and I to do some excited hand-flapping and imagine the Leaky Cauldron and gave a great view of sites like the Millennium Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, Parliament, etc, for Cat and Dad.

After the tour, we moseyed our way up to the Tower of London, passing Big Ben, Parliament, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's, and Millennium Bridge on the way. One of my favorite things (and something I was upset to not do on my first trip to London) was climbing up on the lions in Trafalgar Square.

It took a bit of courage (pun sort of intended). The lions are at the four posts around a monument about six feet or more off the ground. I don't have a good perspective shot, but look at the picture on the left. As we struggle to get on the lion (I'm pulling Cat on while Kate is pushing up her feet), the three people in the foreground have their feet on the ground. So we're a good twelve feet, at least, off the cement ground, sliding around on a super smooth lion. As the first one up, I have visions of Cat popping up my feet and just sliding right over the lion's bum and skull first down to the ground. I'm too accident prone to not believe this. Thankfully we climbed the lion, skull intact.

But that was just a stop en route to the Tower. At the Tower, we oogled the crown jewels, toured the Bloody Tower, crept around the site of many beheadings, and were scared by a particularly large and very vocal raven. 

We took some photos at the neighboring Tower Bridge while we were there. Finally, we finished the night up with a trip to Harrod's (it was closed, but impressive to see none-the-less) and dinner in Piccadilly's Circus.

Exhausted yet? Now on to day three. We were up early again, this time for some close-up photos of Big Ben and Parliament.

We then headed behind Parliament and pretended we were Kate Middleton toured Westminster Abbey. After that, we hopped over a street or two and toured the Churchill War Rooms. I didn't know about this the first time I visited but am so happy it was recommended. We saw the underground bunker of Churchill and his advisors during WWII. There were kitchens, bedrooms, map rooms, meeting rooms, secret telegraph rooms, and many others, some of which were in the same condition as when the war ended. I love learning about WWII so the stories and artifacts were so interesting. We wandered to Downing Street after the museum before hitting our next stop: the British Museum. We took in the Rosetta Stone, the Bog Man, some mummies, the Parthenon friezes, and so much more.

That evening, fully exhausted and suffering of sore feet, we were on the train to my Dad's place in Derby.

London. We were all in love with the architecture, the history, the shopping, and the 'feel' of it. I can't fully describe it - I am in love with London, but I can't pinpoint why. I just can't wait to go back.

Anyone ever been and have something I missed (and need to see)?! I went in 2006 for about ten days and covered more then, but I still haven't been to Windsor Castle. They just opened the Harry Potter sets, too. I haven't been to the markets on Portobello Road. I need to get to Hampstead Heath. There's so much!

Check out the trip to Scotland over here!

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