December 6, 2017

Four Days In London

In October, I went to Europe with my mother-in-law, three sister-in-laws (Mimi, Michelle, and Stephanie), and Brad (a family friend of the Snows and one of Michelle's best friend). So it was a girls trip... plus Brad. We were able to spend four days in London and four days in Paris, plus two days for traveling. This is going to be a journal type entry with lots of cell phone photos so feel free to skip this post. This is for my own memory.

We flew from Phoenix to L.A., L.A. to Houston, and then finally Houston to London. We got to London about 11 am on a Saturday, got our Oyster cards for the Tube, and went to Leicester Square to see if there were any shows we wanted to buy tickets for. We couldn't decide on anything so we put that idea back on the shelf. We then went to the British History Museum for several hours which was amazing. It's crazy how much history and artifacts can be housed in one place. I particularly liked the exhibit on Egyptian mummies. After we finished there, we went to Chinatown and had dumplings at Jen Cafe. After dinner we adventured to Covent Garden and watched several street performers. We grabbed some cookies and ice cream for dessert in the area that were absolutely delicious. To end the night, we watched Motown the Musical. That seems like a pretty random musical to see in London, but the tickets were cheap and it ended up being a fantastic musical. I loved every second of it! Well almost every second - I fell asleep for part of the first act because jet lag is a real thing.

The main attraction the next day was the Harry Potter Studios. We spent the majority of our day here and I think we all geeked out running around the studio. There was so much that went into the making of those movies and it was fun to learn some of the secrets to filming. For dinner, we ate the most fantastic Indian food on Brick Lane in the East End. Brick Lane is an interesting place where you basically barter for the price of your dinner. Luckily we had Cheri with us who always gets the best price when it comes to anything. We feasted at a bargain.

On Monday we started our day off at Hampton Court Palace. They provided a free audio tour that was about two hours. I honestly wish the audio tour was 3x longer. It provided so much information and it was all just fascinating. After Hampton Court, we went to Tower Bridge which is just a quick elevator ride to the top to walk from one end to the other. In the middle of the bridge are glass floors so you can see what's underneath you as you walk. Just fyi, Tower Bridge had the most affordable gift shop. I was able to get Taylor a toy double-decker bus for £2 and Olive the most adorable onesie for £10. Elsewhere they were 2-3x that cost. For dinner we ate at a gorgeous pub called The Counting House which used to be an old bank. We all either got the classic fish and chips or meat pies and then shared several puddings for dessert. That night we got to go on a walking Jack the Ripper tour which was so well done. I have heard the Jack the Ripper case told many times on various podcasts and documentaries, but I still learned some details I had never heard before.

Our final full day in London we were able to fit a lot in. We visited the Tower of London which is full of a wide range of history. It has been home to a menagerie of animals, been the prison of several well-known historical figures, saw the beheading of multiple queens, and boasts the claim that their are several ghosts still residing. We took a Beef Eater tour which was fantastic. They are able to feed you so much history in a short period of time and are also hilarious (mostly at the expense of Americans). I loved learning about the resident ravens that live on the grounds that the Beef Eater's tend to. I also loved finding the "graffiti" left by prisoners in the tower. Since they were there for several months/years with nothing else to do, the graffiti they carved into the walls is more like art. After the Tower of London, we took a boat cruise down the Thames to Westminster. I loved the Westminster Abbey. You could spend hours and hours reading all the monuments in there. Luckily you get an audio tour with entry otherwise I wouldn't have even known where to start. Once we all finished there, we went to the Churchill War Rooms which we thought would be a quick stop. It ended being a rather large museum with a long audio guide with it. It was quite interesting, but I think we were all a bit exhausted at this point. Just by chance we ate at a pub called Churchill Arms for dinner. Well actually we ate at the Thai Kitchen which was a restaurant located inside the pub. It was delicious. I wish I could go back for some more of their Pad Thai right now. Even after a long day, we wanted to end our final day in London doing something. So we headed to Harrods for some shopping. It was more gawking at the expensive clothing and drooling over the candy counters, but I did manage to find a good deal in a bookstore so I got the kids two adorable London books that have been a big hit (this one and this one if you're interested).

Sadly, these cell phone pictures don't do the trip justice and I didn't write enough down while we were there which has caused some of the memories to fade a bit. The days were filled with so much and that sort of starts to blend together if you don't take the time to sort through all the individual events. It took me far too long to write up this post and I still need to write up our days spent in Paris before more memories start to fade. I just know that everything I saw and experienced was amazing and beautiful and inspiring. And what made it all the better was the group of people I experienced it with.

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