Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Everyone keeps asking me, "How was your trip?  What was your favorite part?" 
Valid questions.  Hubby and I recently spent eight days in Europe - specifically London and Amsterdam.  An amazing trip.  It's been a little hard for me to articulate in blurb conversations what such a huge trip was like.  Small talk really doesn't do it justice.  Does small talk do anything justice? 
 I am not a big fan (and am terrible at) small talk.  
So - if you want a real answer, a good answer, a complete answer that is not interrupted by my two toddlers dragging me off to look at something or get them something or whisper "secrets" in my ear (Finola's latest thing) - then this post shall serve as an answer to that question that I've tried to answer since we got back...
I really did enjoy London.  Hubby says he loved it and even ranks it above NYC (which is pretty blasphemous if you ask me.) 
London is iconic.  Everything is super cool - because you've seen it in a million movies and read about it in countless novels (uh, particularly if you have a brit lit obsession.) 
It is cool on movies, and yes, it is very cool in real life.
We had three days there, and did as many quintessentially 'tourist' things as we could.
We left Detroit at 6pm, got to London at 6am, was a 6 hour flight.  (Yeah...uh, I was confused, too.)
So after barely getting three hours of sleep, we arrived at London-Heathrow Airport and had to get into "sightseeing mode" as our plan was to power through the entire day, and perhaps go to bed early to get on "London Time."

It was rough, but after getting some coffee I was ready to go!
We rode 'the tube' to Covent Garden, the area we were staying in.  Basically, the theater district.  It seemed right off the bat a great place to have our home base, as it was close to everything.  
me on the tube (underground - you know, 'mind the gap' and all) with my coffee
Then we went to grab some breakfast.  
Just so you know, British breakfast food a wee bit different than American.
"Overhard" translates to sunny side up, that's a grilled tomato, and yes, those are baked beans in the middle.  I gobbled most of this right up.   I was famished.
"Bacon" is grilled ham (really good!) A "stack of pancakes" comes with about 1 TB of maple syrup (a bit dry!)
The only time you'll see my hubby drinking tea. pinky up, of course!
Running on barely any sleep and a whole lotta caffeine.  The earl grey helped, slightly.
We dropped off our stuff and headed out to hop on a double-decker bus for the sight-seeing tour.  It was super cold and drizzly, but we managed some windy selfies and pics looking up at whatever we were driving past...

phone booth fun!

Paul then fell asleep on the bus.  I also wanted sleep.  We are clearly not hard-core.  So we went back to our hotel and napped sitting in chairs in the business lobby until our room was finally ready at 3pm.  Where we slept some more, and had much-needed showers. Then we went out for...wait for and chips!  Obviously.

The next day we set out to walk all about London with zero agenda.  That is my favorite kind of day on vacation - no rush or no schedule!  Random adventuring.

We went on foot all day -  through Trafalgar Square, shopping at Jubilee Market, peeking in Neal's Yard, passing through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace, strolling by the Thames, crossing London Bridge, checking out Big Ben again, and then finally, we rode the London Eye (huge ferris wheel with amazing views!)
eating a bratwurst at Jubilee

walking across the Thames - whhhhhhy don't we have a selfie stick (everyone else did!)
outside Buckingham Palace

of course there were pigeons.
Red Wing Shoes is everywhere! (my hometown)

totally geeked over the vibrantly colored shops all about London
lovely lime green door
Neal's Yard - just a colorful little corner of Covent Garden (aka hipster central!)
Neal's Yard
This would be pretty sweet if I were a huge monty python fan.  Or one at all.
stopped for a beer/foot rest at a random pub - drank my first 'Strongbow' - mmmm!  
Westminster Abbey - was a cool tour and I got to geek over the "Poet's Corner"
drinking beer before the "Eye" in the champagne lounge (I know, weirdo.)
our guide/bartender in 'the eye' 
That night we went out for a dinner at a nice steak place with a cool 'basement vibe.'  Food was apparently amazing, but after all my "day drinking" I was not feeling great.  After dinner we took had our first "rickshaw" experience...which felt fun on my queasy tummy!

The next day we toured Westminster, ran through Hyde Park, Paul went back to Neal's Yard and got a ma-ssage (said in Austin Power's voice) and I nursed my blisters from all the walking I did stacked heel boots.  Ouch.  Pretty sure we ordered pizza that night and watched a Bond movie in our room. Bliss.

Then, in the early morning we got up to Uber it to the train station.  I couldn't find any Platform 9 3/4 but I did read some Harry Potter on the way to Amsterdam!  (This trip was amazing for me in that I actually got to finish three-ish books...which would typically take me about a year in real life.)
On the train to Amsterdam! I figured if I was gonna be "obvious American" I had to go all out.
Amsterdam recap coming up next!