*the bright side of London

Daniel and I returned yesterday evening from our six day trip to London, England. For the past 48 hours I have been racking my brain on how to describe the trip to you! I definitely know six days was not long enough in such a historic and energetic city!

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I was extremely impressed with how friendly everyone was! From the hotel staff to those who worked at the tube stations. I am most shocked about the lack of trash cans, we carried some of our donut trash a few tube stations before we could find a clear bag meant for trash! You can tell many people were frustrated and threw their trash on the floor. If you ever visit London, please be respectful and throw away your trash! Help keep the city beautiful!

After getting to our room and getting situated we headed to the Tower of London. The goal was to take the tube 99% of the time. But the St James Station next to our hotel was closed the first four days. On the bright side it made us take advantage of the red double decker bus! The bus system is a lot easier to understand than I thought it would be. It was hard to know exactly which stop to get off that would be closest to our final destination, so we relied on Tube Station stops. Getting back to the hotel was easy, we just had to find a bus heading to Westminster (our hotel was only 2 blocks away)! I definitely recommend you taking the bus more than the tube, so you have a nice view of the city!

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To save money Daniel and I split a lot of meals. Although the places we ate at were reasonably price (under 15 pounds for a plate), you have to think of the pounds to dollar conversion. It probably saved us over $200. We ordered fish & chips at The Albert (a pub very near our hotel). The fish was as large, so we cut it in half and shared the fries. At the Olde Cheshire Cheese we split the beef dish, a cheese plate, and Spotted Dick (a small cake with a glaze- it was delicious, pictured below on right).

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On our last night we did not share a meal, we ate at the Spaghetti House a block away from St. Martin’s Theater (performs the Mousetrap play). I had the Linguine Vongole in Bianco Fresh (palourdes clams, white wine, chilli, garlic & extra virgin olive oil), it was the perfect sized dish and tasted amazing with a small kick. I definitely wouldn’t call it spicy though!

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We supported a new business that I luckily had heard of online before our trip. It as wasn’t the easiest journey, but we wanted the fresh and unique experience of Cereal Killer Cafe. I rarely eat cereal, because I don’t drink milk, so this was me trying new things! I had the Frankenberry Cereal topped with freeze-dried marshmallows, while Daniel had Rice Krispie Treat Cereal with freeze-dried marshmallows!

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We definitely recommend you visit one of the many locations were they sell Crosstown Doughnuts. I’ve never been a big fan of filled doughnuts, but I had their Autumn (Apple & Pear). “Just like a crisp autumn day, this little beauty is a complimenting dose of a cool breeze, crunchy leaves and warm sunshine for the tastebuds. Sharp Bramley apple and sweet pear mixed with warming spices are encased in a ball of Crosstown sourdough topped with a sweet maple glaze and crunchy pecan crumble”(describtion found on their Our Doughnuts page). Daniel had the their Peanut Butter & Jelly Doughnut. We both loved it so much that we visited it again before we left!

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I didn’t do much shopping, mostly because of the price. I did find my nieces something for their birthday. With what I got them I took a picture of it with me in front of Big Ben, so they have the memory that it was special. I gave my niece who turned 10 on New Years Eve the two scarves I bought her today. She was so thrilled! Of course we had to find a Tardis in her honor (she’s a big Dr Who fan).

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I bought myself a tank for 3£, a sweatshirt for 10£, a backpack for my upcoming classes for 16£, and the ski hat Daniel and I wore on New Years Eve for 4£ each! Daniel got a tee shirt at the WB Harry Potter Studios and a James Bond coffee mug. We bought a few programs/guides of the places we visited.

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Daniel really enjoyed the London Film Museum where they had a special exhibit on James Bond. He was definitely in one of his childhood’s heaven!

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He was also very excited about WB Harry Potter Studios. He had read the first few books when he was in elementary school and has seen all of the movies. I have not seen the last two movies, but still enjoyed the behind the scenes! Plus the fountain Butterbeer was fantastic!

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On New Years Eve we left our hotel room just after 7pm. We were suggested to take the subway to the Westminster Tube Station, but since our hotel was so close, we should have just walked it. We were through the entrance gates shortly after 7:30pm. We were able to get in the front, with the Westminster Bridge just to our right! My feet froze, to the point of pain, for the next four and a half hours. I did have two pairs of socks on though. But I was going to suffer through the pain, definitely since the rest of my body was warm!

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The firework was show was fantastic and completely worth the wait! The BBC has already posted the firework show on YouTube!

My Favorites:

Museum: Museum of London (visit first because it walks you through the history of London)

Restaurant: Spaghetti House

Pub: The Albert

Play: The Mousetrap (yes, it was the only one I saw there but the ending was a great twist)

Check out my London Week Pictures Here & New Year Eve Firework Pictures Here!

“It is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed.” ~George VI

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*1 week until London

In 1 week I will be in London, England!

I’m trying very hard to contain my excitement! Our itinerary has gotten a little out of hand. I was only planning on doing some research of the places I wanted to check out. And we do what we feel like each day. But then I realized 6 days in London was not enough! I have our itinerary in a half inch binder full of times, places to see, tickets already purchased, and zoomed in maps of places will be visiting!

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Each day we will tear out that days itinerary, so we have our resources that will fit into my mini purse, instead of hauling around the binder! We used this method when we were in Paris, last November!

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When we arrive into Heathrow we will be having Blacklane car service pick us up. We used this company in Paris! I highly recommend them when you travel outside of the USA. The have many discounts through out the year. We are getting both of our rides to and from the airport at 30% off! You can do all your booking online, months prior. Both of our drivers in Paris were very polite and on time! I’m normally not such a high end person, I drive a cheap Fiat in my normal life. But I like have a driver in foreign countries. I don’t have to take a public transportation fussing with my bags or worried they will get stolen. Plus when I’m on vacation I want it to be better then my daily life!

Speaking of being better, the hotel we booked I can tell is going to be fabulous! We will be staying at the 4 Star St. Ermin’s, a part of the Marriott group! Check out there website to see their incredible inside!

(pictured below is St. Ermin’s entrance decked in Christmas lights for 2014,

picture found from St Ermin’s Facebook page)

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I’m excited to eat breakfast at the new Cereal Killer Cafe,  where they sale over 120 different types of cereal from around the world. To top it off, they have 30 milk choices and 20 different toppings!

“There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere.” ~ Vivienne Westwood

 

*london is calling

Paris is by far my favorite city and will probably remain my favorite city! I have spent a few days in London though and there is something special about this city!

The trip I took with my French teacher and other students June of 2006 started off in London. We arrived there the morning of June 16th, on my 18th birthday! How incredibly lucky was I?

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It was also the time that I was oblivious to traveling. The morning was free to do what we wanted, but most of the group wanted to see the Tower of London. I had no clue what the Tower of London was, let alone was I going to spend nearly 20 pounds on my first day! My friend Molly, who I had know since elementary, didn’t want to go either, so we set outside. We had Subway (it was right next to the entrance of the Tower) and ventured only a little to the Tower Bridge. We didn’t know how much our teacher would allow us to explore, plus we didn’t want to get lost! The day got better with our travel guide giving us a bus tour to see all the famous buildings of London. We had dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, rebuilt shortly after the Great Fire of 1666! The entire tour group sung Happy Birthday to me! We finished the night with a tour of Jack the Ripper! Even better, I got to experience the trip with my best friend, Amanda (pictured below)!

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The next day was even more spectacular! We started off the day watching the Trooping the Colour: The Queen’s Birthday Parade! I saw the Queen of England, it was incredible! Then we spent the day walking around London, the weather was perfect! (pictured below is the Queen, photo taken by Amanda)

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I unfortunately have misplaced a lot of the pictures since my trip. This was before digital filing on our computers were popular, I have a photo book with a few pictures still left from my memorable trip, but not as many as I would have hoped. Thank you goes out to my parents who let me go on this trip instead of Hawaii to celebrate 25 years of marriage! I promise it was money well spent, I learned a lot and still think of the trip today!

The good news is, at the end of December, my husband and I are going to London! I really wanted to take a trip this year and after seeing what the fireworks show looked like the previous New Years Eve, I was sold! We will be there 6 days staying at the 4 Star St. Ermin’s, owned by Marriott. Thanks to Charli, I have a friends and family discount! I have done my research, 6 days will not be long enough.

Our first day will be spent at the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels. Lunch will be across the street, the Subway is still there (according to Google), but we will be getting the traditional fish and chips at The Kitchen @ Tower. Dinner will be at the Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, to relive my 18th Birthday.

We have already purchased tickets with transportation to go to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour to see where parts of Harry Potter were filmed at. Daniel is a big Harry Potter fan. We will also be visiting the London Film Museum, where they have a special exhibit of James Bond. Daniel also has a love of James Bond, it is second to his love of Batman.

I’m most looking forward to New Years Eve! This year was the first year they were having ticket sales, luckily they were only 10 pounds a person! Thanks to my prior research I was able to buy them minutes after they went on sale. Check out this BBC Video of last year’s firework show! I know I will probably freeze, I know to bring lots of layers and to check the weather report before we head. But how many people can say they have rang  in the New Year in another country! I will write more about our trip probably before to show you my research and after to show you our pictures!

 

“If a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” ~Samuel Johnson