London

Get comfortable and grab yourself a cuppa, because I have a lot of catching up to do! After a month without internet, we’re back in business and I can finally resume a normal lifestyle – no more sitting outside in the rain trying to check my email, or FaceTimeing my mom for an hour only to find out she couldn’t see my face because of a poor connection. I’m now happily sitting on my doll-size sofa hoping I didn’t forget how to blog. Yes, our sofa is a total joke. More on that later.

Saturday 9/12: We took an early train from Brum to King’s Cross in London and an hour and a half later, we were on the Tube heading to our Airbnb in Bermondsey. I really can’t say enough about the genius of Airbnb. We were steps from the Thames, Tower Bridge, Borough Market, the Shard… even a hotel in a less desirable area would have cost a fortune and I think we only paid 70 quid for one night. Since we would be staying near King’s Cross the rest of the week, we did an Airbnb in a different neighborhood so we could see as much as possible.

Anyway… first stop: Tower Bridge! Ahh-mazing! We walked across, but didn’t pay to climb to the top. I suppose this was the theme of the trip: get close enough to touch, but don’t pay for the silly extras. We decided that we’d have plenty of opportunities to do indoor exploration when the weather turns bad.

London - September 2015

London - September 2015

Tower of London! (Below) Next time I definitely want to go inside.
London - September 2015

London - September 2015

Borough Market!! Love love love this place. Crowded, yes. But rightfully so! This year is its 1000th anniversary (seriously). We grabbed lunch, sampled truffles, cheese, chocolate, salsa, bread, you-name-it-we-tried-it. I bought my first Pimm’s Cup (delicious) and we wandered for a couple hours before tearing ourselves away.
London - September 2015

London - September 2015

Onward! We walked along the Thames and checked a bunch of things off our list before detouring for a pint and some rest.

St. Paul’s Cathedral
London - September 2015

Cleopatra’s Needle (1450 BC ish and actually has nothing to do with Queen Cleopatra)
London - September 2015

The London Eye
London - September 2015

Westminster and Big Ben
London - September 2015 London - September 2015

By this point we seriously needed to sit down, so we looked up Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese and headed to Fleet Street for a pint and some (more) history. The pub has been around since the 1500s and was frequented by a number of literary figures throughout the years. Dickens, Tennyson, Chesterton, Yeats, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… really cool place. The dark interior doesn’t lend itself well to iPhone photos, but note the “Gentlemen Only” sign below.
London - September 2015

The rest of the day is foggy… I think we walked around 12 miles, I was tired and hangry, and we were wandering trying to find somewhere to eat dinner. Connor’s coworker was with us, and well, you know. Two’s company… I can’t remember where we ate, but we made friends with an older man who, again, was thrilled to talk to some Americans, and had loads of advice for us.

Sunday 9/13: Woke bright and early, ate an awkward breakfast at our Airbnb (Connor: “Hi how are you? where are you from?”  Girl: “Guess.” ……. I don’t like ethnicity guessing games. Seems like a trap), then headed north to check into our hotel.

Connor had to work Monday-Wednesday, which was why we were in London in the first place. Whoever chose the hotel wasn’t messing around, let me tell you. The St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel was just completely beyond. I would never in a million years be able to justify spending that amount of money just for a bed, but hey. If you want to pay for it, I’ll gladly stuff my suitcase with all the fancy soaps and magazines, gorge on the macaroons, cucumber sandwiches, and loads of desserts in the VIP lounge, and become addicted to sparkling water. (I actually couldn’t fit into the dress I was planning on wearing to Claire’s wedding because of this hotel. #sorrynotsorry) Oh, also, free wine again. Oh, and because they chose the hotel so late, the only room left was a suite, so we stayed in a suite. No big deal.

Front of the hotel (below). Note the Land Rover, Porsche, Bentley, and the RV Clown Car. I’m sure reception thought we were the ones who arrived in the Clown Car. Judging by the knowing smile and “did you have a long flight?” comment, we must have been the worst dressed people they’d seen all weekend. Me: “Oh hello, may I have some of this delicious looking candy? Thank you. We’ve been here since yesterday. I know I look like hell. More candy please.”
London - September 2015

London - September 2015

The hotel is connected to St. Pancras International Train Station (the Chunnel) and has a really fascinating history. A Victorian Society successfully lobbied to save the building from being torn down and voilà. There’s a whole book written about the building, which I might go back and purchase next time we’re in London.

London - September 2015

London - September 2015

London - September 2015

Like so many things we saw on this trip, it’s almost impossible to capture the scale of the building with a camera. I felt like Belle in Beauty and the Beast just trying to take it all in.

We walked west and went to mass at St. James in Marylebone. Another amazing church. This was actually about 2 miles away from the hotel, and still tired from the day before, we tried to take it easy. We explored the area a bit, checked out Baker Street and Sherlock Holmes’ famed address (site of a museum), strolled through a farmer’s market, and wrapped up the afternoon in Regent’s Park.
London - September 2015
London - September 2015
London - September 2015
London - September 2015

Connor: “This must be where they keep the muskies.”
London - September 2015

The air in the park smelled of roses – there must have been millions of flowers. Again, the pictures don’t do it justice, but it was so beautiful. I’ve never seen so many roses in one place. We rented bikes in order to make it back to the hotel in time to get ready for dinner, and I highly recommend that to anyone traveling in London! It was so fun, faster than walking, and much more my style. The Tube was definitely helpful, but you couldn’t see anything since you’re underground, and it’s sort of pricey.

Whew that’s enough for now. Stay tuned for London days 3 and 4!

London

Harry Potter

OK so I’m writing this post from the WordPress app. No idea how it will turn out so let’s test it on something not that important but still kind of exciting, k? K.

Harry Potter and London.

YES!

We’ve been in London since Saturday morning.  Connor had business M-W and we leave tomorrow afternoon to fly to Chicago for a very important family wedding!!!!!!

Without further ado, here are a few ways Harry Potter has infiltrated London and taken advantage of tourists. Including me. And Asians.

King’s Cross. OMG let’s go find platorm 9 3/4

 

HAHA!!! Hedwig doesn’t look so good

 

Very long line to pose by the trolley. These peeps didn’t really get into it. But they waited in the line, sooo…

 

We did not wait in line.

Really? What are we Muggles really going to do with a wand?

 

The bridge the Dementors destroyed! Do you think it’s stable?

 

That’s St. Paul’s Cathedral on the other side of the Thames. The building that inspired the design of the U.S. Capitol.

I made a serious dent in the list of London sights and have loads of pics!!! Apologies in advance for the next post, which will detail all the ground I covered. Goal 1 of the blog is to stay in touch with everyone and share our adventures, and Goal 2 is to help me remember everything we’ve done. 🙂

Can’t wait to be back in the states tomorrow and eating normal food. Did I already tell you that I ate a ham sandwich every day for 30 days while living in a hotel? And that this hotel also provides free wine? I know, try not to barf. Sickly combo.

Harry Potter