While I’ve always loved Paris, Rome was the city I was most looking forward to on our trip. So I was a little surprised when I ended up wanting to live in London.
Maybe part of its spell was not having to deal with a foreign language anymore, but we were smitten from the first night. Before the rain and chilly weather had a chance to change our minds, that is.
We rode the Eurostar train in from Paris, Drue and I listening to an audiobook and John having the pleasure of sitting next to a teenage girl whose hotel room must not have had a shower. But other than that it was perfectly nice. I kept nodding off, and was unsuccessful in determining which of the many tunnels we navigated was the Chunnel.
We (OK, I) did a little shopping and had lunch at St Pancras train station in London, where there was not a trash can to be found (bizarre). Then we began the long process of getting our travelcards, which I incorrectly read that we would not need photos for. So we went to the ATM, purchased some Smarties at Boots to get some change, had more passport photos taken and waited in line again. Fun times! I was thankful to be speaking English again, or it would have been a nightmare.
I couldn’t resist buying this postcard at Paperchase:
After a lengthy check-in involving a kiosk and a missing bed (gotta love budget hotel chains), we walked past the London Eye and across the bridge to Westminster Abbey.
While we only had a little time for our tour before closing, we did have great seats in the quire for the Evensong service. While waiting to enter, we were standing on Charles Darwin’s grave, and got to hear this exchange between some teenagers from Canada:
Girl 1: “Look, there’s Charles Darwin’s grave.”
Girl 2: “Who’s THAT?”
Girl 3: “You know how sometimes there’s a fish on people’s cars with legs? It’s that guy.”
We had dinner at a pub near the Tower Hill Tube stop before our Jack the Ripper walking tour. Fish and chips with London Pride, anyone?
We were too tired for drinks at the pub afterward, so we headed back to our hotel for some TV and postcard-writing. Justin Bieber was on Aaron Carr’s Summertime Special looking nervous and admitting that he just doesn’t get British humor. Neither do I, Justin, neither do I.
The next morning, we watched the Colonel’s Review of the Trooping the Colour parade. Trooping the Colour celebrates the queen’s birthday, but there are a few practice runs in the weeks leading up to it, which is what we saw.
Don’t they always look so happy to have their picture taken?
After the parade, we headed through Trafalgar Square on our way to St Paul’s Cathedral. The central Tube line was flooded, so we walked.
Believe it or not, we finally found a structure we could resist climbing, so instead of ascending the dome, we descended to the crypt (where a wedding was happening in the chapel — how romantic?).
Then we walked across the Millennium Bridge, which, as you can probably tell from the amount of pictures, I thought was pretty cool.
A little side trip to the Sherlock Holmes Museum and gift shop for a souvenir for John’s mom…
Dinner at a pub along the river…
And then it was time to visit the Tate Modern, which I must say, has the best museum gift shop ever (not that I’ve been to MOMA, but…).
There was a special Damien Hirst exhibition at the museum. Naturally, I had to have my picture taken, even if I do think he is a deranged animal killer.
The next morning, we took a hop-on hop-off bus tour, then hit the original Hard Rock Cafe before seeing Henry V at the Globe Theatre.
Our bus tour came with a free ferry ride on the river, which is where I took this picture of a banner up in honor of the Queen’s Jubilee (which was the previous weekend).
London has some great street art, even most of the Banksys are gone.
I especially liked this Tube station…
Then it was back on the bus, where I got yet another shot of the London Eye.
Given its proximity to our hotel (right out the window), I’m a little shocked we didn’t go on it, but it’s very expensive and we just weren’t feeling it at the time. Plus, John assured me that he would never be feeling it, and that Drue and I could go without him.
When our bus tour ended abruptly at closing time, we made our way back down to our favorite mode of transportation, and returned to the hotel for some Skyping.
Day 12 of our trip was one John was looking forward to, as we spent half the day at the British Museum. I couldn’t get as enthused about it as him and Drue, but I did enjoy taking pictures. And drying off.
Don’t worry, by now we had bought another umbrella.
We had lunch at a fancy little place inside the museum, with a tea chaser.
That evening, we walked through the door of a pub into a crowd of people standing around us with beers, staring. Turns out, we came in under the TV that everyone was watching the Euro 2012 soccer match on. We ended up being one of the only groups upstairs eating, all of which were non-Europeans.
Then we saw Shrek the Musical, which was great! Very funny, and unlike the American theatres I’ve been to, you’re allowed to drink your wine in the seating area instead of chugging it during intermission. It’s the little things.
Our last morning in London was — what else? — cold and drizzly. But that didn’t stop us from walking all around the Tower of London. Our tour was led by the first female Beefeater, Moira Cameron.
Then it was back to the airport for our long journey home.
While we were so ready to back home at the time — back to Calvin, cars and McDonald’s (kidding, kind of) — now we miss it a lot! So much so that John is looking into going on an archaeology dig in England next summer.
And who knows, maybe some day this blog will be titled It’s So Bloody Urban.