As anyone who travels knows, there are things you learn along the way. And those things are usually quite helpful to pass on to others who might eventually travel there. So I feel it's my responsibility to share. So for the next several days I'll share our London trip and if you don't want to deal with it, then I'll be back to normal blogging mode in about a week.
Before I start, I must mention that I was very concerned about this trip not being fun. I say that because our little threesome has a difficult time getting along sometimes. And especially on trips for some reason. We're all very strong personalities with opinions and stuff. So it can create issues, and I really didn't want this very expensive trip to go badly. (It's happened to us before) So we all spoke about it here at home before the trip and agreed on one simple rule: "Think before you speak."
Well, let me tell you those were magical words because it truly worked! We got along fabulously and had a wonderful vacation!
Here we are all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ready to fly to London from the Orlando International Airport. We purposely took an evening flight, thinking we'd sleep on the plane. (Um. Nope.)
It's been a long time since I've had an actual meal on an airplane. British Airways did it up right! Ravioli, salad, roll, dessert, coffee. And it was delicious!
Ohhh the flight was a long one though. 9 hours. I have a hard time sitting still for 10 minutes here at home, so you can imagine how I was doing on this flight. I watched a movie (12 Years A Slave), did some crossword puzzles, read a book, tried to sleep, read a magazine, walked around, tried to sleep, drank free wine, watched another movie (American Hustle), tried to sleep, played on my iPhone, walked around...
...then finally the sun came shining through the windows and we were landing at Gatwick Airport around 9:30 a.m. their time. (About 4:30 a.m. to our American bodies.)
We got some British pounds (do you spell it out like that? I don't know.) from the ATM machine in the airport. Then got some round-trip train tickets (cheaper to do it this way) for the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station (about a 30-minute ride), lugging our suitcases along the way, then hopped on the nearest metro to Oxford Circus close to our hotel.
This was the metro station at the late morning hour. Busy as hell! People are bustling and rushing here and there, trying to dodge the American tourists with their big suitcases. I learned pretty quickly that if you've got a giant suitcase and you're on the escalator in the tube station, you need to stand to the right so the speedy people can rush pass you on the left side; rather than firmly plunk your suitcase to the left of you, blocking everyone. But even still, the locals were quite polite about it.
After hopping off the tube we pulled our suitcases quite a ways down busy Oxford Street to a few smaller streets that led to our hotel in Soho. The Nadler. Only a year old, this hotel was fantastic. Very modern, ultra clean, quiet, exceptional staff, wonderful room. The best! By the way, I highly recommend staying in Soho if you visit London. It's the very heart and hub of London. Tons of little streets to explore, restaurants, markets, and you're within walking distance of everything London has to offer.
We were SO tired, but since it was too early to check into our hotel and we were excited to start exploring, we left our bags at The Nadler and set off. You'll hear me say it many times: I was truly enamored with the architecture of London. The age, the mixture of styles, the beauty. It was just wonderful everywhere we went.
We suddenly came upon Covent Garden, which happened to be on my wish list of places to check out. The market was going on and it was quite a festive atmosphere. Food vendors, music, and various sellers. The food smelled so good we had to sample something so we shared an empanada...
Then some dessert and coffee.
We were now refueled and happy.
Although we were getting a little punchy.
We grabbed an early dinner at a local Thai restaurant, walked to Trafalgar Square and picked up our London Passes (more on that tomorrow), grabbed a few items from the Tesco market to stock our kitchenette and started back through the streets to our hotel.
On our way back we noticed quite the phenomenon. All the pubs were filling up and spilling out onto the streets. ALL of them. This was a common sight every night of the week. Yes, even Sunday. They started as early as noon and continued well into the wee hours of the next morning.
You know the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." So we did. (Only in London. Duh.)
I have to say this pint put me over the edge and I couldn't keep my eyes open much longer, so we checked into the hotel and unpacked, took hot showers and fell into bed by 9 p.m. exhausted.
See you tomorrow for Day 2's Big Red Bus Tour and more. Thanks for stopping by.