Sunday, February 20, 2011

And we're off...

No trip is ever without it's hiccups and the first 24 hours provided exactly that for us.

1. It's good to know that a flight won't take off if there's luggage for a passenger, but no passenger. Though I wish they would have figured that out BEFORE we were in the queue on the tarmac. Getting out of the queue and returning to the gate meant that we were almost 2 hours late getting into London :(.

2. Arriving two hours late wouldn't have been that terrible, but it was just our luck that the needed tube line (Central) to our hotel was closed because of weekend tube repairs in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Which meant an extra long walk to our hotel dragging our suitcases.

3. Weekend Tube closures meant that Central Line and the Circle and District lines were closed. Who in their right mind closes those lines and the SAME time?

Our matchy carryons

Our original plan was to do Westminster Abbey and then head down to the Tower of London and St. Pauls before ending up in the westend to watch Les Miserables. It didn't go as planned--remember tube closures? In the end we did Westminster, the London Eye, and Les Miserables.

Westminster Abbey: The last time I took a tour of Westminster Abbey (2003), we had a tour guide named Chester, looked exactly like professor Snape, and liked to stroke things with his long fingers. Creepy! We may have been nicked named "Chester the Molester." We had a wonderful tour guide who's name was not Chester.

Parliament Square. For me, Parliament Square is such fascinating place--a hippie commune in the middle of London. During my three previous visits, it was filled with anti-war signage (there's still some left), this time it was mainly death to capitalism signs. I couldn't figure out what they wanted to establish instead of capitalism.

Westminster Bridge: It's the oldest bridge in Central London and was finished in 1862. (Very Random fact)

View from Westminster Bridge looking South.

The view from Westminster Bridge looking north.

London Eye: The London Eye was constructed in 1999 and was originally called the Millennial Eye. It has 36 egg shaped carriages that hold 25 people a piece. It rotates 10 inches per second and takes 30 minutes to complete the entire rotation. It has a height of 443 feet and was the tallest ferris wheel in the world until 2006. By 2008, over 30 million people had ridden it. It also has some of the best views of London.

Towards the Southeast you can see St. Pauls and the Gherkin.

World Cup Fever: With England playing the United States in the first round of the world cup, my loyalties may have been split. Though, my favorite part was as we were eating our dinner a very drunk and excited man, came up to us and started signing one of the English football songs. He kept wanting us to join in and finally I said "We're American." To which he replied "that's too bad" and walked away.

At four in the afternoon, most of this crowd was already drunk.

Les Misearbles: I know that this is strange to say since it takes places in Paris, but Les Mis reminds me of London. I think it's because I grew up watching the 10th anniversary special at Royal Albert Hall and fell even deep in love with the play, the music, the building, and Michael Ball. So it was a must see during my study abroad and is always a wonderful one to see again. The cast did a wonderful job, and even with our jet lag Emily and I managed to stay away for most of it.

I experienced a new London first this trip--being pooped on by a pigeon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Day 3 London

For as many times as I've been to London, it's hard to believe that I never went to the Britannia (YSA ward), especially because where else am I going to meet my British husband? :) And we didn't plan on hitting the Britannia ward this time either, but with a silly little thing called jetlag we ended sleeping through the family ward so the Britannia ward was the only option. Can I just say how much I miss seeing well dressed men on a daily basis? I miss the plaids, checks, and strips together, cufflinks and great shoes, but mostly I miss seeing guys wearing purple and pink and them NOT being gay. One of my favorite study abroad past times may have been to purposely choose certain tube lines so I could watch all the men either going or coming home from work.

Because we missed the morning church, we had a little time to kill before church and we spent it at the
Victoria and Albert Museum as no trip would be complete without a trip to my favorite museum ever! I've even blogged about my love for the V&A here.

Walking around London you're still able to see damage caused by the German Blitz during the the end of 1940 and the beginning of 1941. In fact one of my favorite pictures of ALL time is St. Paul's covered in smoke, but still standing.

Not only does the V&A house a great collection, it's a stunningly beautiful building.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying some of my favorite places--Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and the Mall, Regents Park, and we topped of the night with London highlights bus ride.

Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park
The Serpentine, Hyde Park
(created in 1730 for Queen Caroline, wife of George II)

In fact the Serpentine one of the few places I've had a picture taken all four times I've been to London.

The Serpentine


2004 (Don't you love the pink sunglasses)



Hyde Parks lawn chairs. You have to pay to use them. And yes, I may have taken a picture in them while the attendant wasn't looking. :)

I love the variety of what you find at Speaker's Corner

Hyde Park
Isn't this a great tree?
Kensington Gardens-Peter Pan Statue

Kensington Palace
Kensington Gardens

Kensington Garden
The Elfin Oak (a 900 year old stump carved with all sorts of "little people")

One of the very first pictures I took in London during my study abroad in 2003 was of this clock tower in Kensington Garden. It's face (with the saying "time flies") reminds us that time really does fly.

The BYU Centre

I'd LOVE to in one of these flats.

Trafalgar Square

Admiralty Arch

Pall Mall decorated for the queens birthday.
We may have seen PRINCE WILLIAM on our way to Buckingham...too bad he's engaged.

London Icons

Telephone Boxes

"Look Right" and "Look Both Ways"
to remind foreigners which way traffic is coming.

"Mind the Gap" probably the only phrase I can pull off with a reasonable British accent.

And my favorite London Icon of all--Parliament and Big Ben (the clock) I could spend my days (and evenings) listening to the melodic sounds of the Thames and the chime of Big Ben.

And if all works out right, this is where I'll be next year--the London Olympics.