Wow so much has already happened since we’ve gotten here, I’m not even sure where to start. So I got up at 6:30 thinking that if I got up early I would be more tired and possibly sleep on the plane…. Wrong. It’s hard for me to sleep on transportation so this is going to be a very interesting trip. Never the less, got up at 6:30, Cody and I left for the airport at noonish, checked our bags, got our seat number and everything was going smoothly until we went to exchange money… We wanted to get some of our American money converted pounds (or p) so we could have some cash when we got there… If you haven’t looked at a conversion chart for the dollar to the pound don’t because it will only make you cry. It’s about half. So let’s say I wanted $1 worth of pounds… I would only get .58 cents. To say the least, London is one of the most expensive cities we will be in and it’s the only city we go to that uses the pound. The rest of the trip (besides Switzerland which uses the Swiss Frank) we will be using the Euro. So here is us getting ready for the adventure of a lifetime 😜
Then once we got farther into the trip, we could pull up the flight map and see our progress, it was an awesome plane. And like I said, falling asleep on transportation is pretty hard for me (not so much for my travel companion, he fell asleep for a solid hour in a half) so I was up the whole time watching movies, playing the in-flight suduko that was on the tablet and reading all of the magazines I brought. (Jamie: you would be so proud, I watched Tangled and thought of you 😜) and, as you can tell, we’ve both never been on an international flight so we were surprised at how good the inflight meal was… With complementary wine.
So we finally get into Paris (because we had to fly pass London to Paris for our connection and then catch a flight back to London [only to come back to Paris in a few days by train]) but because we were 45 mins late taking off in Dullus, we were rushing to catch our connection. Luckily our next gate was only in 2 terminals down from where we came in so we got there with 15 mins to spare before boarding. Then we were delayed there for about 30 more mins. But finally made it to London, found our bus to the hotel and met three girls that were on the trip waiting for the bus as well. Out of 40 people on the tour, there are only 7 guys so the rest are girls so that’s interesting too.
Anyways, got to our hotel which is in a very “posh” part of London as Mike (our tour director) says, so it’s actually nice. Cody and I go up to our room… On the 6th floor… For which we take the stairs… With our fully packed luggages in hand. It was leg burning to say the least. But we can’t official claim our room yet because it still needed to be cleaned from the last people who stayed there. So we were told to drop our bags and head out to see LONDON! Mike gave us a lot of suggestions so running on no sleep, a few of us gathered up and made a plan.
First we took “tube” to Camden Market which was busy with people, shops, lots of tattoo and piercing places, and most importantly the food. Mike told us to go here and just grab the free samples and you should be full for lunch. Didn’t exactly work out the way. The only free samples the Chinese vendors wanted to give out was bang bang chicken. We each had a couple pieces but decided lunch needed to be bought. Again, looking at the prices is pretty comical because when you see some thing for 4p you would think $4 which would be good for market food but that’s not the way it works. So Cody got some dumplings and a crepe filled with Nutella and strawberries and I got a calzone which they made from scratch and was very good. We sat down on the river and ate our lunch with our new friends from the tour that came with us.
Then we wanted to go see and possibly ride the London Eye. So we took the tube to the station, and then decided if we wanted to take the ride for 21p which is about $35 for a 30 mins Ferris wheel ride… We chalked it up to a once in a lifetime experience and went. The view was gorgeous, you could see all of London and right across the Thames River was Big Ben in all his glory.
Got off the eye and decided Piccadilly Circus was the next stop before heading back to our hotel where our rooms would be ready. Took the tube again (luckily our tour includes day passes for the tube so we don’t have to pay for every single ride which as you can already tell, would get quite expensive in itself) to the Circus stop, came out of the underground to see what looked relatively similar to Time Square.
So we finally made it back to our rooms to “freshen up” and get ready for our welcome event. If I laid down I knew I was just going to pass out so I immediately took a shower and got ready, Cody took a nap and did not want to get up.
But we met everyone downstairs, took the tube to the St. Paul’s stop, saw the third largest dome in the world, walked to a place called Ye olde cock tavern and had some wine and finger food for dinner while Mike gave us our welcome/intro speech.
Most everyone was exhausted at this point (except for who we call the younger crowd because they haven’t started college get and of course we’re so old…) so we take a double-decker back to our hotel. But then we decided a couple more drinks won’t kill us. We go to another pub around the corner for a little and then call it a night. I don’t even want to know how many hours I’ve been up been it’s been way to many. Day 2 is suppose to be filled with sightseeing and some more free time where we want to go see the Tower of London and the Convert gardens. First day = success but I have to end by saying that these posts are going to be from my phone and/or iPad so there might be quite a few spelling mistakes or the formatting might look strange but bare with me here, we’re trying to have an adventure of a lifetime here, no time to proof read
Day 2 was filled with equally as exciting things as day 1. We started off with Breakfast at 8:15 down in our hotel/hostel’s kitchen which consisted of dry cereal, milk, and rolls with Nutella, peanut butter, jellies, or butter. I didn’t even attempt to make a cup of coffee because if was just grounds and hot water. Not much but it did the job I guess. Then we got on out coach bus for our sightseeing your around London with Stuart Shaw and he was so funny! Funniest tour director I’ve ever had and he took us around to all the major attractions like Oxford street, Harrods, St. Paul’s dome, Financial district, Tower bridge, London bridge, Tower of London, Tate modern, Westminster abbey, and Buckingham palace where we got to see the Changing of the guards! That wasn’t what I was expecting either but it’s cool that we saw it. And unfortunately we didn’t know where to get pictures with the guards where you can try and make them laugh so we headed to Leadenhall market which is where diagon alley was filmed in the Harry Potter movies! I didn’t think it looked anything like the what the movie looked like but there wasn’t a bunch of little wizards walking around getting owls and wands so maybe that’s why…
Then we left and went to the Tower of London which was 18.70p to get in. We went inside immediately and joined a tour directed by one of the Beef Eaters and he was a riot too! We stopped at 5 places inside the tower and he had a bunch of stories and explained a little bit about everything. So then we went into the White Tower which is the most famous tower and is currently home to an artillery and weapons museum but it had many other purposes in years prior. Then the Crown Jewels…oh the Crown Jewels. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures of anything and we actually saw one of the guards looking through a girls phone because she had to delete all the pictures she took of the jewels. The English are very proud of their jewels but apparently they don’t want anyone else to see them if you’re not there in person.
Our final stop before heading back to the hostel to get read for one of the biggest pub crawls in London was suppose to be Abbey Road where the Beatles walked across on their album cover… Well everything in London is named pretty simply: the Tower of London are towers, west minster abbey is on the west side of town and had a minster (or church) on it, and the financial district is home to over 500 banks and is where most financial business is done. So you would think Abbey Road would be home to the famous “abbey road”… Welp it’s not. So we went 18 stops from our hostel on the tube to get to abbey road when it wasn’t there haha. Some people directed us in the right direction but at that point we had to get back and ready for the pubs.
Then we went on the biggest pub crawl in London which was 4 bars, free entry and shot at each, t-shirt, glow sticks and pens to write on the shirts and 1 club. It was a lot of fun and definitely a good way for everyone to relax and get to know each other a little better.
Stonehenge took about and hour and a half to get to from the city of London and I tried to sleep on the bus there and even though I was exhausted it wasn’t working out to well.
But the actual monument of Stonehenge was amazing to see. We went to the visitors center first where we got the map and audio playing device that explains the history. So we road the trolly half way there and Cody and I got out to walk to rest of the way. And on our walk we met some new friends…and they did not like it when Cody tried to walk past haha. But then we got there and was able to get pretty close. But the answer my question on my post a while ago when I was going through the trip and explaining it, no, you cannot go into the middle of Stonehenge. You used to be able to 30 years ago but because the ground is so fragile by the stones you are not allowed anymore. Amazing to see knowing what these people did in order to bring these huge boulders of sandstone from west whales all the way to England and stack them on top of each other like that.
Then we took about an hour bus to Oxford and we finally got fish and chips and I ate the whole damn thing! I was starving. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting but it was just fried fish and French fries, good London experience though. Then we walked around with our tour guide for the day and he brought us to one of 38 colleges in Oxford, Brasenose. The way he explained the different colleges sounded similar to the way fraternities work in the US but more intensive. Oxford is known for being called the “city of dreaming spires” because of the many spires on the tops of almost all of the buildings. The buildings were beautifully built hundreds and even thousands of years ago and many of them have stories to tell which is definitely my favorite part to learn about.
We also got to see the Harry Potter infirmary and the place where they have the dancing lessons with professor mugunigal before the big ball in Goblet of Fire!! And the Great Hall was also filmed at Oxford at Christ church but that was a 15 min walk there and we didn’t have time for that. We also saw the spot where C. S. Lewis first thought of The Chronicles of Narnia. So we saw the original lamp post and the entrance way into Narnia. So to chalk up Oxford, it’s a place of massive intelligence, creativity, and history.
Then we took our bus back to the city of London to get ready to go to a British Comedy show at the West End Theatre called 39 steps which was pretty funny and a neat experience to say that we’ve now seen a British play in one of the most famous theaters in the world.
London has been an amazing first stop. We have to get up literally at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning to catch our Eurostar train to Paris!