The Princess Is In

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Welcome Home

Ah, there truly is no place like home. After spending the last week in London I have come to the conclusion that I am truly a very spoiled American and I am so thankful to live in this country. I do not say that to mean that I did not enjoy London, but just that I quickly found out how much I take for granted all the little things that make my life easier/nicer/more pleasant on a day to day basis. All the things that I didn't even consider throughout the course of my day... I now have an appreciation for. As much as London was a vacation, it was also an eye-opener in that regard.

We set off on Saturday the 28th, flying from Jacksonville to Atlanta (of course... I swear, the Queen herself must have to go thru Atlanta LOL)and then on to London. The flight to Atlanta is a quick one (roughly 45 minutes) but the flight to London was almost 9 hours. Unfortunately, I do not sleep well on planes so it was a looong flight. Robert and I amused ourselves with movies and games (lots of Bejeweled and Zuma for me). :) Once in London, we took the Gatwick Express into central London, then the Underground to Notting Hill and checked into our hotel. It was early and our room wasn't ready so we checked our luggage and went around the corner to the Bagel Factory. That was our first taste of the expense of dining out in central London. Robert had a ham and cheese bagel and a Coke and I had a raspberry muffin and orange juice. Eighteen dollars. (Eye-opener #1) We were so exhausted that we went straight back to the hotel instead of walking around and checking out Notting Hill. Even though it was almost 10am in London, it was 5am to us and we had been up for almost 24 hours. I actually fell asleep in the hotel lobby. Luckily, our room was ready by about 11:00. We took the tiny lift up to the second floor (actually the third since they consider the first floor the ground floor) and let ourselves into our room for the next week. The first thing we noticed - no air-conditioning. (Eye-opener #2) Silly us, we didn't even think to ask about air conditioning when making our reservations. Unfortunately, as everyone kept telling us, it is the hottest spring on record in London for the past 200 years or some such insane number. Lovely. LOL When it came to unpacking, we discovered there was no closet. (Eye-opener #3) Instead there was a wardrobe for hanging things, but no shelves or dresser for folded items. So we resorted to stuffing things in the little tiny desk drawers. LOL Who knew?! :)

Once we were settled, we hit the streets and started wandering. We explored Notting Hill, taking in the beautiful old buildings, the tiny little cars, all the traffic, people walking everywhere, the shops and restaurants and cafes. We quickly became old pros at using the Underground... which was a good thing since you really have to use it to get almost anywhere. We had purchased 7-day Oyster cards for travel on the Underground so we just scanned our cards as we entered a Tube station and scanned again when exiting a station - no money or tickets needed. Made it easy! On Monday we did the total tourist thing and went on a red double-decker bus tour. You could hop on and hop off at various stops and it was a fun way to see a lot and start to get our bearings around the city - figuring out which sections were where.

On Tuesday, our friends Nicky and Kev took the train into the city and spent the whole day with us. (They live 2-3 hours north of London in Grimsby.) I think that was my favorite day. It was wonderful to see the city with people who knew it so well... not to mention it was great to see them again. We walked miles and miles that day and saw and did so much: the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a boat cruise on the River Thames, the London Tower, a fish and chips lunch at a pub near the Tower, the London Eye, the exclusive shops on Bond Street, and much more. We ended the day with a delicious meal at Bella Italia. We saw and learned so much more with Nicky and Kev than we ever would have on our own.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we were on our own again and spent our time shopping, sightseeing, and just taking it all in. We had tickets to see Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theater on Thursday evening and that was a real highlight for me. I adore Phantom of the Opera. We were way up in the balcony since we had only bought our tickets about 3 weeks previously but it was still absolutely worth it. On Friday, our last full day, Robert was determined to see Abbey Road so we figured out which Underground connections we needed and managed to ourselves there. And, yes, I took a photo of Robert walking across Abbey Road. :)

Then our time in London was coming to a close. We flew out of Gatwick Saturday morning, back thru Atlanta (of course!), and then back to Jacksonville. Unfortunately our luggage got hung up somewhere in Atlanta and didn't make it back to Jacksonville when we did but we tried not to let that put a damper on our homecoming. It would have been much worse if we had arrived in London without luggage! Thankfully, everything came in later that night and they were delivered at home late that night.

It was amazing to see so many of the places that I had only read about in books or seen in movies or on television. To see things like Buckingham Palace or even the red double-decker busses in person was such a thrill. It was truly a trip to remember and we have some amazing memories of our time in London.

2 Comments:

Blogger Bobbie said...

Sounds like a wonderful vacation. I can't wait to see some photos.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Manetta said...

I did not know you were from Fl too! Read your blog and checked out your photos. Very well done! Can't wait to see your layouts from this trip!
Netta
(from SBS)

7:07 AM  

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