Monday, December 17, 2012

Thanksgiving In London was almost a month ago, but better late than never.  On Thanksgiving we flew to London to meet up with our dear friend, Kate from back home who was visiting her sister.  We even managed to find a restaurant that served up a delicious American Thanksgiving dinner.  Being in London with a good friend was the best medicine for the holiday homesickness that accompanies the season.  

On Friday we saw as much as possible........

Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard.  It fills up fast and we were there almost one hour early.  The ceremony really isn't that exciting, but knowing that you are seeing this ritual is what makes it so awesome.

Extravagance everywhere.  Everything from street lamps, to statues and fence posts were decorated with gold paint.   The money is literally visible.

Waiting patiently - in good company - for the changing of the guard.

It seemed like every fifteen minutes we were being warned about pick pockets and told to keep our belongings close.    "There are thieves among you!"  Seriously, those words were spoken, oh the English accent.

And the guards.

Feeding the squirrels of St. James Park.  If only her facial expression was more visible.    These little squirrels seriously walk up to anyone offering food and reach up to their hands and grab snacks.    Fun fact:  Rabies does not exist in the United Kingdom.  

Doing the tourist thing.  Good Times!

Hilarious to watch this little boy imitating the guard outside the Tower of London's Waterloo Tower that houses the crown jewels.

Tower Bridge - so beautiful in this light.  

Tower Bridge from inside one of the buildings of the Tower of London.  So much history, it was interesting and it makes me want to learn more.  

Tower Bridge reminds me of something from a Disney movie.

White Tower.  A great exhibit inside covering royal power and all the kings .  

Big Ben.

The London Eye bathed in blue lights.   Definitely buy tickets in advance online to save a few bucks and ensure you get a place.  Great views - London is so HUGE!

I know this picture is blurry, but I love how it shows motion and the complimentary colors are my favorite.

Big Ben and the houses of Parliament.  I wish we would of had more time to walk around this area.  
Yes, all of these pictures are from one day.  We were there on Saturday - saying good bye to Kate.  Then off to the British Museum, which is free - can you believe it.  We saw the Rosetta Stone there too - it didn't help me learn any more German though.  I thought it was interesting to see all of this ancient history in an amazing museum for free compared to paying 20£ to get into the Tower of London and then being hit up for donations at every turn including right after seeing the crown jewels...intriguing.  Either way I highly recommend both the British Museum and the Tower of London.

Also, definitely recommend getting an Oyster Card if you are going to use the underground or buses.  London is a huge city and it is so nice to be able to read everything - albeit a little overwhelming at times too.  I definitely want to go back some time as there was so much we didn't see.  Food poisoning plagued Travis and I was blessed with a sore throat, so from Saturday afternoon on we pretty much saw the inside of our hotel room.  Bummer!

I did however venture out with Hannah in the evening because, well, I was in London for gosh sakes!!!  Everyone had told me about Harrod's so I thought I'd at least go check it out.  Bad idea!!!  I don't know if it's a big shopping weekend or what, but the maze of a store was packed to the point of almost not being able to move so I high tailed it out of there once I figured out how to get out.

As I made my way to the subway the sidewalks became a sea of human bodies and then surprise, they stopped letting people into the station because the tubes were so over crowded.  Unbelievable, the collective energy was not feeling so great at that point and I didn't want to be trampled so I walked to the next stop.  Yes, I eaves dropped and followed some other folks.  Once to the next stop it didn't take long to realize the same thing was going on.  Craziness.  So I decided my only choice was to figure out the buses, which was easy enough, but regardless it took forever with traffic.  Finally I made it back to the hotel!

Sunday at the airport, flight delayed, wandering around I found a Boots Pharmacy and decided to pick up some drugs...why....because I don't have to translate them : )

A great time and it was so awesome to be with my friend Kate - love her, great memories and hopefully we can do it again!