Tuesday, May 7, 2013

London 2013 #kanda2013

Fair warning: this is going to get very, very long! I'll start with London & do a separate post for Scotland.
We left ATL on my 27th birthday and after many, many cocktails in the crown room (what's it called now Delta?), got lucky enough to have a completely empty flight. The flight attendants were also awesome, so both Mandy & I got a row to ourselves and slept for 7.5 of the 8 hour flight. Success!
First stop, the Waldorf by Hilton to drop our bags. Our room wasn't quite ready yet, so we headed out to explore and eat.
We saw street performers in Covent Garden (who knew Mandy was so into these characters? Not me),

And stopped for lunch and a quick persusal of the guide book. Good thing we opened these in advance of the trip... but they came in super handy. I prefer Lonely Planet and Mandy prefers Rick Steves, and between the 2 we felt really confident with all of our choices. I still prefer Lonely Planet though, I used it in Australia, too! The books are colorful, offer great suggestions for food and tourist stops, and the format is really easy to read. I'll stop plugging now but really... highly recommend!
After Covent Garden, we walked down through Trafalgar Square, pausing for pictures. Judging by all the people milling about, you can tell that the weather was spectacular! We got really, really lucky.

Continuing past Trafalgar Square, we found Westminster Abbey & Big Ben. We did a tour of the Abbey but no photography is allowed inside. There are so many famous people buried there, particularly famous scientists, which we found fascinating.
We walked back to the hotel and made it in time for happy hour and hors dourves, and then got a recommendation from the hotel for a light dinner. Dinner was eh, but the company couldn't be beat :)
We got up the next morning with every intention of making it to Buckingham Palace in time for the changing of the guards. Everything took us twice as long as we expected, so we missed that but bought tickets for the double decker bus tour instead. We hopped on and away we went. 3.5 hours and a sunburn later, we had a really great time. The guides were phenomenal. I was so impressed by the museum guides, taxi drivers, tour bus speakers, and everyone else who was willing to share information. The pride and passion for their country and what they do was so obvious, and it was contagious!
We saw the London Eye...
Took selfies on the bus...

Watched as all of London basked in the beautiful weather...

Found PK's horses...

Checked out Buckingham Palace...

Floated under the Tower Bridge...

Hung out with soldiers at the Tower of London (and saw the Queen's jewels!)

Rode the London Eye on the most beautiful day...

And took the quintessential London tourist picture.
We packed SO MUCH into 2.5 days in London. Not pictured was a Jersey Boys viewing, some great meals, visiting the oldest craft brewery in England, and a boat cruise to Greenwich. We had beautiful, perfect, even HOT, weather. I knew London was a big city, but I had no idea just how enormous it really is. I've always thought I'd be overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of a city like that, but instead I found it inspiring and exciting. I was excited to see everything and take in all of the people.
I haven't ever felt so comfortable in another city. I felt like I could see myself there, like I could live there, walk the streets, be friends with the people. I loved the busy-ness, the excitement, the pleasant people, the culture. Maybe there are more trips to London in my future?
Scotland up next!

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