Saturday, September 24, 2011

London - 2011

"Woke up in London yesterday..."
You know, "Good Life" by One Republic. I think of that song every time I think about London and vice versa.
On our way back to Atlanta from Mozambique, we decided to extend our layover in London to have a full day to see some sights.  It was definitely wasn't long enough, but we got to see lots and really enjoyed our time there.  Of course, it was a bit rainy in the afternoon, but what do you expect in London?

Here's a little recap of our quick whirlwind day.

*We arrived in London at 6am after spending way too much time on airplanes.  After grabbing our luggage, going through customs, leaving our luggage at the "left luggage" (caz' who wants to lug around 2 weeks worth of luggage on a whirlwind day?"), exchanging money, and purchasing a ticket, we finally made it on the tube.  Luckily, the airport is at the beginning of the Piccadilly Line so we were able to score some seats for the semi-long ride into the city.  Since it was a weekday (Thursday) and morning commute time, we got to see the normal Londoners traveling into the city for the work.  Seriously, everyone had an ipad, nook, kindle, or magazine for the ride.

*We finally made it to the city and got off at the closest tube station to our hotel (fairly close, which was very nice) and we were able to clean up in the fancy bathrooms, change, and drop off our luggage with the concierge so we could head over to the British Visitor's Museum to get our London Pass and then see the city!

*We wandered around and grabbed some breakfast in a park (lemon pastry and coke).  The squirrels over there must be really used to people, because while I was trying to take a picture of one that was really close to me... he climbed my leg.  For. Real.

*Our first stop was to see Big Ben and Houses of Parliament.  How cool!  They are so gigantic! and fabulous!

*Of course, I had to get a picture with a telephone booth! 

*Next stop was Westminister Abbey.  What an amazing place.  So full of history.  When we walked in, we were given headsets with audio tour guides that we could control.  We decided to try to see everything, but only listen to the audit tour for the highlighted portions of the tour.  Cameras were not allowed.. except in the cloisters section.  So I don't have tons to share.  But believe me, it was amazing.

*Well... I know that I wasn't technically supposed to take pictures.. but I wasn't 100% sure if this room was off limits.. because I saw other people with cameras.  So I snapped a couple of the recent bride and groom.  William and Kate.

*Well.. and then Aaron convinced me to snap this picture of Isaac Newton's grave/memorial.  You know, since we named our dog after him.  It's a bit blurry, but I had to be real quick.

*After overwhelming ourselves with Westminister Abbey, we grabbed the Tube and headed to the west side of the city, for Fish and Chips at The Golden Hind.  Highly recommended from friends and good 'ole Trip Advisor. :)  It was quite fabulous. delicious. 

*After lunch, we headed back to the heart of London, through Green Park to see Buckingham Palace.  We even saw some people heading into Buckingham Palace... not sure who they were.. but they were going in.

*and then it started raining.  A Lot.  And we huddled under a tree trying to read our map that was starting to smear to figure out how to get to our next destination.  But we made it without drowning to the Tower of London.  We were running out of day and still had a bit we wanted to see (and a lot of stuff closed at 5:30-6:30).. so we just wandered around seeing the buildings but we only went into 1 building.  To see the Crown Jewels.  Spectacular.  They were gorgeous.  Totally worth the line.  Again.. another place where pictures aren't allowed.  But I snagged this photo from online, so you would have a visual.

*After the Tower of London, we went over to see the Tower Bridge.  It's a London landmark, so of course I wanted to see it but I also knew that Aaron would really enjoy seeing the steam engine room inside.  and I was right.  He loved telling me all about how it worked and just watching it.  At the top of the top walkway of the bridge, we were able to look out over the river and see some of the London skyline.

Lego Tower Bridge 

*After our very busy day seeing the sights, we went back to the hotel to rest our feet for a little while and get fancied up for dinner.  We didn't really have a place in mind for dinner, so we just wandered around until we found a little Italian restaurant.  I know it's a little weird that we had Italian in London.. but it was so good and we were just glad to find some food!

*After dinner, we walked around seeing the night sights.. but especially the London Eye.  We never made it over to it during the day... but I am so happy that I was able to photograph it at night.  Big Ben and Houses of Parliament were nice bonuses.  :)

*Long story.. which will be addressed in a later post.. but we lost our little point n shoot camera on our trip... so we lost some of the "Aaron & Erin" pictures from our first day in London... so when we returned to London from Paris, we ran around and hit a few sights to snap a couple of quick pictures.  Some of them with our cheap waterproof camera.  Luckily it was a BEAUTIFUL day outside, so I am so happy we got to see London with the blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

*Although I'm very happy we got to see beautiful, blue sky, fluffy cloud London.. we also almost missed our flight back to Atlanta.. partly due to that.  We were cutting it close.. but I knew we had time to get back to the airport and check in.. assuming no problems.  Well I was wrong about the no problems.  We went to grab the Tube and 1 of the trains was defective.. so we ended up having to wait for 5-10 minutes for another train.  We grabbed the first one that was heading towards Heathrow airport, but it wasn't heading to terminal 5.  So we had to hop out at a station (above ground) and wait for the Heathrow terminal 5 train.  For a short while, we were pretty sure we were going to be stuck in a little town outside of London.  Once we made it to the airport, I ran to the left luggage desk to pick up our luggage and then met up with Aaron to check in for our flight.  We had no problems checking in, but then we had to check our bags.  We ended up standing in 5 different lines waiting to check out bags.  One time a computer messed up and then 3 different times the lines were just closed on us.  We were finally able to check our bags, literally 35 minutes before our flight departure time.  Luckily, security was speedy.  Unluckily, the Heathrow airport is huge.  We were those people who run through airports.  It was a bit ridiculous.  We made it as they were already boarding the plane (and only because they were running a little behind schedule).  Whew.  We seriously thought we were destined to stay in London.. and as awesome as it was, we were so ready to be home!  We did get upgraded seats, so the extra leg room and reclining helped make up for the craziness.

waiting on our train in random small town outside of London.. hoping we make our flight.

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