Monday, July 11, 2011

Day 1: London

Well, we finally made it!  I've been looking forward to this trip for so long, and when the day finally came, I almost couldn't believe it was really here.  So here's how our first day of travel/London went:

Our international flight departed Chicago at 9:13 Sunday evening.  Somehow, Katherine and I ended up  sitting on opposite ends of the plane.  The ironic thing is that she was crammed in the back with no leg room (not ideal for someone who is 6'1), and I was in the front row and able to completely stretch my legs out in front of me (probably shouldn't have told her that!)  In the past, I have never been able to sleep on the plane.  I don't know if it was the Tylenol PM I took, my attempt to read some more of Atlas Shrugged, or the fact that I had really quiet traveling companions, but I fell asleep shortly after dinner.  I woke up many times and spent a good deal of time in a half-concious state, but I definitely didn't struggle with "jet lag" like I have in the past.

11:25 am--We arrive at Heathrow.  Going through customs took a long, LONG, LONG time. In the past, I've traveled through GLOBUS, so I've never had to worry about transport from the airport.  I'm so proud of myself for navigating us through the Tube!  We made it to our hostel without any problems.
2:00 pm--We arrive at our first Hostel.  I wasn't crazy about the walk from the Underground station to the hostel...but our room is great.  Very small, but it's all we need.  And you can't beat the price.
3:30/4-ish--We made our way to Picadilly (how cool is that name! It's my favourite so far) Circus to the London Visitor Center to pick up our London passes.
4:30--We stopped in a little sandwich shop across the street for lunch/dinner....not really sure which.  Our stomachs were just telling us it was time to eat!  (something besides airplane food)
5:15--We wandered around (literally, we were just walking about; maps are optional) until we made our way to Trafalger Square.  We used our passes and did a short audio tour of the National Gallery.  According to Rick Steves, it's one of the best guided tours in Europe.  We saw paintings by Leonardo, Botticelli, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Turner, and van Gogh....well, we ran out of time (closed at 6), but these are artists/paintings we should have seen : )
Nelson's column

National Gallery
We saw Big Ben, so we continued to walk in that general direction......We strolled along historic Whitehall.
#10 Downing Street

The guards at #10.  Did you know they've been on duty for 12 hours?  How terribly dull!

Westminster Abbey, location of the Royal Wedding

Big Ben and Parliament
Our London Passes got us free admission on a cruise of the Thames...why not?
River Cruise.  My dermatologist still wont' admit that I have a problem with pre-mature wrinkles.  Exhibit A : /

London Eye--a glorified ferris wheel--but it gives the best views of London

Dome of St. Paul's and the "Wobbly Bridge."

Shakespear's Globe.  Katherine and I are hoping to catch a play.  The "groundling" seat are only 5 pounds!

London Bridge--kinda plain and simple.  That song creates such a hype!

Proof that it's the REAL London Bridge

The Belfast, from WWII

Tower Bridge, often mistaken for London Bridge.  Here's a bridge worthy of a song!

At Starbucks, you never feel too far from home.  They had visitors place a pin on the map of where they're from.  How cool is that?

I know tomorrow has many, many exciting things in store.  We begin at the Tower of London.  We're going to catch an evensong service at Westminster Abbey and hopefully see some Shakespeare.  I love Europe!

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