*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

 

*the dream to travel

Girls my age pin (Pinterest) about babies, I pin about visiting Europe. I even want to live in Europe!

Pregnancy has always frighten me. I find the idea of something living inside me very strange. Daniel went into this relationship knowing I was strongly against having kids. He was ok with that. Sure it wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world to have a child. We love each other so much and to share our world with someone would be great. Plus I could see him being a wonderful father, playing Batman with his child. But in the meantime I will spoil my friends kids!

(below me being silly with a CPR training baby in early 2013)

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But my mind is full of daydreams of all the places I still have to go! I’ve lost count of my mental notes of all the places I’ve said I need to visit. I’ve only been out of the country three times. I still have to visit other parts of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Hawaii (again), Australia, and show Daniel other parts of France; the list is endless! I would love to go live in France for a few months in my late 30s or early 40s (if we don’t end up having children).

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(pictured above is Rome taken by my friend Emily B)

Indirectly, people make me feel guilty for wanting the life of travel and not the life of babies. I know my parents don’t mind too much, they treat Bruce Wayne (my dog) like their grandson, plus they still have a chance with my sister.I’m excited for my trip to London. Yes, I’m putting some of the trip on my credit card, but I want to live life to the fullest. I wanted to do something crazy and adventurous, and I thought spending the beginning of 2015 in London watching one of the biggest firework shows in the world would be spectacular! I knew I would regret it more if I wasn’t there!

“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face. You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love 

*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

*Samantha Brown

If I could have any job in the world, I would want to be Samantha Brown! Samantha is famous for her shows on the Travel Channel: Great Hotels, Girl Meets Hawaii, Passport to Europe, Passport to Latin America, Green Getaways, Passport to China, Great Weekends and Samantha Brown’s Asia. She has been to hundreds of different places around the world! She is personable to everyone she meets, even when she doesn’t speak their language and she is willing to try new things, even if she is scared!

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I had the pleasure of hearing her talk at the Los Angeles’ Travel and Adventure Show in January of 2014! As much as she loved her job, she loves exploring and meeting the locals. She is more focused on the present then the past. I, on the other hand, enjoy the history and locations of the past. Afterwards she did a meet and greet! I was shaking so much as I was talking to her! Pictured below is my friend Charli (on left) who made it just in time to meet Samantha! It was definitely the highlight of our month!

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For the longest time I wanted to be a travel agent. Free or very affordable vacations, plus regular business hours. I’m also very organized and love planning anything! I went to college for Hospitality and did my internship with Travel Leaders, Travel ProZ of Indianapolis in the spring of 2011! The couple who owned the shop were extremely nice and very knowledgeable of the world! Below is a picture of me at their booth to promote business at a Wedding Expo!

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I believe that travel to historic places is the ultimate way to learn. You can read all the books about the world, but until you experience it at the source, your education is only partially fulfilled. Europe’s history interests me the most. I also am interested in the history that started the United States. I have been to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall,  the Liberty Bell, and Benjamin Franklin’s home. I was only 16, so I didn’t value the experience as much as I should. I would love to visit Boston and Washington DC. The world has so much to offer, luckily my parents blessed me with many adventures to get me a head start!

“Authentic travel is never in the must sees always in the mundane.” ~Samantha Brown

*paris love

A year ago Daniel and I were in my favorite city, Paris! I had been there in June of 2006 for a few days while I traveled through France with my high school French teacher and a few students. It was a city I was in love with prior to and a place I still love today!

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I convinced Daniel that 2013 was the year to visit France on our flight back to Southern California after attending his grandmother’s funeral. She was born in France and had always had a love for Paris. When Daniel and I became serious just after high school his grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I wish I would have heard her stories and her reason for loving Paris. I was blessed to receive a few of her Parisian items from her house years before, that I happily placed in my home.

I was able to use miles to get me a cheap flight to Paris and I was currently working at Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas in Newport Beach, CA so I was able to use my discount to stay at a nice hotel. Our biggest price was Daniel’s plane ticket and it was only $1,200 round trip! It was our first international trip together.

We flew with Delta Airlines. I highly recommend paying the extra hundred dollars to upgrade to economy comfort! On international flights it definitely makes a difference, when first class is very expensive! A taxi ride from the Charles de Gaulle airport to Paris can be pricey, so for the same cost I used a black car service. I recommend Blacklane  , we were in a Mercedes. They were professional and on time! You sign up on their website where you also put your method of payment, so they will just charge you after your ride!

We stayed at the Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel, a few blocks away from the Louvre! I don’t work for Marriott anymore, but I still highly recommend their hotels! Daniel’s aunt and uncle ending up staying there this past summer, without realizing that’s where we had stayed!

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I did a lot of research prior to our trip, I didn’t want to arrive unprepared in a country that I don’t speak the language. Of course we didn’t follow the itinerary to a “T”, but I knew where places were and when they were open. Some nights we didn’t feel up to a meal that I had planned so I had back ups. While working at the villas, I was annoyed with customers’ lack of knowledge of where they were spending their vacation. I didn’t mind some questions prior to their arrival, it showed they were concerned. It was when they tried to blame me for their ignorance, when they didn’t plan prior!

The week we were in Paris we had one good day of weather, the rest of the days were very cold. Luckily we were prepared without looking like tourist! We had two different couples ask us for directions; thats when I truly felt Parisian! Of course I said I was just a visitor, although I probably could have gave them correct information, I didn’t want to be the one to get them lost! With it being off season we were able to enjoy a lot of museums without the crowds!

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The day we went to the Louvre we went to see Mona Lisa first. There was maybe 10 other people looking at her at the same time we were! No lines or crowd made for perfect picture opportunities! We didn’t spend the entire day at the Louvre, as much as we loved it, it became exhausting! I did see the statues and paintings that I wanted to see. I found the statue that my two friends and I modeled for when we were there in 2006! Daniel was so impressed my the entire museum, it was his favorite place in Paris!

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Paris is famous for their food and dessert! We tried Au Pied de Cochon, it was one of Julia Child’s favorite restaurants. Their menu is very limited with pig dishes. I started with the onion soup, since it was her favorite. It was very tasty, unfortunately our entrees were not. Daniel was trying to be adventurous by ordering the sausage, which was really pig stomach. Trust us, it looked and smelled like pig stomach too (Pictured Below)! For lunch the next day we ate a cheeseburger at Hard Rock Cafe to get our tummy back on track!

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My favorite dinner was at Le Procope, the atmosphere and menu was perfect! The history drew me in; George Washington, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Oscar Wilde are a few that have ate there! I enjoyed a traditional dish of Coq Au Vin, it was incredible! I recommend this restaurant to everyone who visits Paris!

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If you wish you wore born in the 1920s, then I recommend Julien. The decor transports you to the fun times of flapper dresses and jazz dancing, right out of the Great Gatsby! My husband and I put a bottle of wine to toast to a fabulous week together. I recommend the Roasted Scallops on Risotto, it completely hit the spot! We finished our meal with the dessert Louise Babe cake topped with rum. I promise they did not skimp on the rum; they brought the bottle of rum to the table and drowned the cake! To say the least Daniel and I were very tipsy on the ride back to our hotel, where we drank more with his uncle!

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As cold as it was, I was completely in love with my trip. I got to show my husband of three years my favorite city. My love for my husband grew as we took our first international trip together! We even left a lock on the small bridge behind the Notre Dame (side closet to Shakespeare & Co), one key is in the Seine, the other is framed in our home. We have to decided to spend our 5th Wedding Anniversary (18 months away) in Paris and other parts of France!

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See our pictures on my Facebook!

“Wanna know what Heaven is? Feeling the sun shine on you…….. In Paris” ~Rachel Zoe

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