Thursday, January 22, 2009

London Trip: Day Two

Day one is here (but it's not that exciting).

Day Two! Okay, so I arrived in London at about 7:00AM. Of course, to my body, it felt like it was around midnight, so I was tired. I had tried to sleep as much as possible on the plane, but I couldn't force myself to do more than about 3 1/2 hours. After going through customs (lines weren't too bad!), I grabbed my luggage and headed to the exit. There, amongst all the other limousine drivers holding signs for their pick-ups, was this incredibly handsome man. He had the best grin and the most gorgeous blue eyes! He was holding a large bouquet of flowers and a sign with my name on it. I laughed and laughed and went over there to kiss him.
(Yeah, so it was Brandon --if you haven't figured it out, yet. Wha?! You thought I would be kissing random strangers in Britain?! Pshaw!).

We got on the tube and headed back towards London (I had arrived at Heathrow airport). Brandon kind of gave me a run-down of how the tube system works (and just for posterity's sake and your information, I think London is brilliant with their underground train system! Wow! They are all geniuses). For those of you London people, we stopped at Earl's Court and got out. The hotel was on Cromwell, and later we realized we passed by Alfred Hitchcock's former home (there was a plaque, but we had no camera at the time).
We left my luggage at the hotel, I freshened up (tried to look presentable?) ate some food, and then we headed out for some sight-seeing. We took the tube to Oxford Circus, where we walked down Regent Street (a very popluar street with amazing shops --if you have money! No, I'm serious --we're talking high-end, designer, "this-is-where-the-royal-people-spend-their-moolah" shops. It's very posh!). We took Regent Street all the way down to St. James Park, but before we got there, here is the first picture we took of me in London. Woo-hoo! Don't ask me what the statue is. I can't remember.
We then headed to the Horse Guards (an amazing set of stables and buildings that house the Horse Guards. What else?). If you look at the three pictures below, you'll see how I tried to get a panoramic picture in three shots of the place, and I did a terrible job (but you see what I mean, right?):
We went through that far gate behind Brandon and on the other side there were two of these (one on each side):

Next, we walked down Parliament Street. One thing I noticed about London (and would notice even more as the week went by) was how many amazing monuments there were to the soldiers of WWI and WWII. I loved them! This one, I especially liked:
As we came down Parliament Street and turned towards Westminster Bridge, I saw this:
And the other side of this:
I'm a sucker for old buildings, and London was full of 'em! The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben were simply amazing. The view of them got better and better as we crossed the bridge:

The Thames River is very busy (just like all the streets), and there are bridges everywhere. I took out the map of greater London area, and there were only 11 bridges that I could see. I'm sure there are more! I think I crossed four of them throughout the week...? Anyway, after we crossed the Westminster Bridge, we walked along the south side of the Thames, past the London Eye (that big ferris wheel):

We crossed back over on another foot/train bridge and got back on the tube at Embankment.
[OH! OH! And for all of you American Idol fans, did you see the guy who auditioned in Arizona? The blind guy? Do you remember how his shirt had the red sign and Mind The Gap on it? Well, that's a reference to the tube in London; the gap between the carriage (train) and the platform is usually awkward --sometimes it's a step down, sometimes it's a step up, and sometimes there's just a really wide gap. So the speakers come on and at almost every stop you will hear this beautiful British voice (female) say loudly, "Mind the gap, please. Mind the gap." I was thiiiiis close to buying a shirt like that! So, I loved it. The shirt on the blind guy, I mean. Oh, and his voice was nice, too. I was glad he got into Hollywood!]
We got out at Gloucester Road (once again, this is mostly for those familiar with London --you know, explaining all the stops and streets. You could google map it and find them too, if you want!) and stopped a cute Italian restaurant for lunch. I learned quickly that if I want regular old water, I either ask for tap (free!) or still (bottled). And it's not common to get a lot of it. Bummer. After eating, we went back to the hotel; Brandon left for work (he had taken the morning off) and I took a 3 hour nap. It was lovely!
After I woke up, I showered, grabbed the map, and headed out for some evening sight-seeing on my own. I headed East on Cromwell, and ended up going in front of the Natural History Museum. It looks like this:
I then went north on Exhibition Road, passing by the Science Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Imperial College, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Hyde Park Ward Building! The mission office, family history center, and chapel are inside --I went in briefly to check it out.
Then I headed west on Kensington Road and saw the Royal Albert Hall. This is where many symphony orchestras and musicians perform --which makes sense, since the Royal College of Music is around the corner:
After passing the Hall, I headed back south on Queens Gate, and then back west on Cromwell to the hotel. Brandon met me there and we had dinner at a fabulous little Indian restaurant. I just realized I called both of the restaurants "little" and I think I should clarify. Everything in London is "little". The shops, the cafes, the restaurants are all stacked together and if they need more room, they go up. Think NYC 5-floor walk-ups, but they are restaurants. Of course, I've never been to NYC, so my comparison may stink. Heh. Anyway, this fabulous Indian restaurant served us the most amazing Indian food (oh, sigh!), and then we went back to the hotel.
That night I slept like a rock, and it's a good thing, too, because I needed it for the next day!
To be continued...

8 comments:

Amanda D said...

I'm impressed that you could remember what all those buildings are! It looks beautiful, and it's so neat to see so much history.

flip flop mama said...

Old cities are the best. They have so much history. I loved your rundown and Indian Food, yum!

Cardalls said...

And these are not old buildings "American style"...these are 400-1000 years old...isn't it incredible?

Ann said...

It's crazy that I read about your trip and know exactly what you're talking about! I love it! I'm so glad you got this experience.

Oh, and I was at your Enrichment tonight. I missed you. Figured you were home w/sick kids. Hope they feel better soon! :)

FluffyChicky said...

I am staring at a your pictures with a mixture of awe and complete jealousy! I wanna see all those things!! :)

bythelbs said...

This post is so long. I'll have to come back later so that I can read every word. Pretty pictures, though.

Still excited that you got to go. Yay you!

P.S. The word verification is "stoked"--perfect for this post!

Leslie said...

I totally want to cry reading this post...I'm sure you know why. I mean...those were my old stomping grounds. Ah...my second home. It's such a wonderful place!!!

Annette Lyon said...

Thanks for including so much detail! (I wondered what "mind the gap" means--now I know!) I love all the pictures. Totally living vicariously. In case you were wondering.