Trip to London


Last week Kevin and I took a vacation in London. The weather was great for our trip. It was a little cold and windy but it only drizzled one day, which meant we were able to do a lot of sightseeing. It took until the last day for me to realize the “no photos allowed” policy of most the places we went meant the only game in town for good trip photos would be if I did a food blog that last day.  So this is a blog about our last day with a few odds and ends about other parts of the trip.

Last Day in London

We decided to go the airbnb route for the first time. We stayed with a couple named John and Chris. They had a flat with a spare room that used to be used as an office but was easily converted into an extra bedroom. The flat was in Windsor Terrace, very conveniently located next to the tube and bus stops. The room had it’s own entrance and was upstairs from their living area, so we had a lot of privacy but John was around anytime we needed him and was a lot of fun to talk with.

This is John and I. Now that I look at this picture it kind of looks to me like we might be related.



This is Henry, John’s and Chris’s cat. He was adopted in Dubai (where John and Chris used to live) and became a British cat when they moved back home. Henry is a cat on the move. He is also an exhibitionist. He would sit like this, look out the window, and then look back at us. Kevin blurred his cat bits for me.  Not going to risk offending anyone by posting Henry’s cat bits for the world to see.



After saying hello to Henry Kevin and I left for Fitness First to get a workout in before the day started. I took a few stalkerish through the window shots and I’m sneaking up behind you shots of the trainers there before I put my big girl pants on and asked if I could get a photo with them.

Here is the cat that ate the canary and the trainers.



I practiced my stalking skills by taking a photo of the Grade A beefcake on the elliptical machine, Kevin. I don’t know if weird music videos are the U.K.’s thing or that particular gym’s thing, but there were some strange videos playing on the television Kevin is staring at.


After the gym we grabbed breakfast at The Shepherdess Cafe.



Porridge1506882_10100416770286219_3028341827431382531_nFlat White Coffee



After breakfast we took a bus and the tube (London’s version of the subway) to get to the Tower of London. London has a card called Oyster that’s like a MetroCard. You put money down on it and swipe to pay for the tubes and buses. Made it super easy to get around. I think London is even easier to get around than NYC; they have great public transit systems. On the topic of the tube, one of the stranger sights we saw was a girl in a wedding dress and guy in a suit at the bottom of the escalators leading to the tube one night.  Not sure there is any circumstance where this situation could ever be a good thing and while they were speaking Spanish it sounded like the conversation was a little heated. I have never regretted the decision not to take Spanish in college as much as I did right then. Maybe he was sent after her to bring her back to the church, I think if he were the groom the fight would probably have been a little louder or tears would have been involved.



Riding the tube and bus was hard work so by the time we got there we were hungry again. For lunch we stopped at Pod for lunch. It was really cold out; we just wanted to find a place to get out of the wind at that point and lucked out that Pod was close by.


Ham and Cheese baguette and a juice. Kevin’s curry lid is behind it.



After lunch we continued on to The Tower of London. There were free tours given by Yeomen Warders (also known as Beefeaters!) but it was impossible to hear them because of the crowd and them not wearing microphones and it was getting cold and windy so Kevin and I left the group to do our own tour.

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The Tower of London also had the Crown Jewels. Another time I wished I could have taken photos. There was also a film reel showing Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. She was a knockout when she was younger! The Royal Mint used to be located in the Tower of London so we checked that out also.  We learned Sir Isaac Newton used to be “Master of the Mint” and that during an English coin shortage (severe shortage of silver coins and England was running out of gold reserves) Spanish coins were counter stamped with the English King’s image to put them into circulation. Beheadings were popular in England in medieval times (you were particularly prone to beheading if you were married to Henry the Eighth) and lots of beheadings took place at the Tower of London. If any place is haunted I’d bet the Tower of London is.


After that we stopped at a Starbuck’s for a gingerbread latte and a hot chocolate. First time trying a gingerbread latte and I was not impressed. I’m not a big fan of spicy coffee.

My latte and a thimble sized cup labeled Andrew that was on the table when we got there. Andrew probably drinks coffee with his pinky facing out.

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We took the tube and bus back to the flat to check in for our flights, pack up, and plan travel back the next day before going to Le Mercury for our last dinner in London.

Appetizer: French Onion Soup. Chosen mostly because it had cheese on top.

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Dinner: “Croustillant de Légumes.” It was a phyllo pastry dome with mozzarella and roasted vegetables in a balsamic reduction in it.  Also chosen because it had cheese in it. It was good but not as good as the phyllo wrap Kevin made for my 30th birthday a few years ago with chicken, dates, and roasted parsnips in it.  That was so labor intensive though it’s been almost six years since he last made it. Maybe if I’m lucky he’ll make it for my 40th in a couple of years.




Dessert: I saw they had a cheese plate with Brie, Gruyere, and a blue cheese. Hello. That had my name all over it.

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Other Odds and Ends from the Trip

Photos from the National Gallery of London (where I was allowed to take pictures)

In the 1600’s, odd looking John played with his kitten and his eel as his equally odd looking sister Jane was suddenly struck with a brilliant idea.


Once again, Mary forgot to check the dryer for Jesus before shutting the door.


Outside of Westminster Abbey

Royal weddings (including the weddings of Will/Kate and Charles/Diana), coronations, funerals, and church services happen here. No photos from the inside are allowed.

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The Victoria and Albert Museum

I admit the reason I wanted to go here was the wedding dress exhibit. I wish I could have taken photos!!! They had wedding dresses dating back to the 1800’s with information on the owners. There were also U.K. celebrity dresses like Kate Moss’s and Gwen Stefani’s.  Remember how Gwen had that pink wedding dress? The pink was spray painted onto the gown! That’s how they got that fading pink color. No Kate Middleton wedding dress but they did have a repeat film reel going showing her getting out of the car in front of the Abbey.

Natural History Museum

Cool but very crowded since it was a free and a weekend. If you’re in London go, but go on a weekday to avoid the crowds, lots of kids and parents on weekends. The line into the building is slow going and once you’re inside it is still slow going for about an hour or so because you have to thread your way through narrow walkways for a good bit of the way inside. Here photos were allowed but it was so packed I couldn’t get any good shots. We went mainly to see the dinosaur exhibit. Realistic looking moving dinosaurs and of course real dinosaur bones, eggs, and fossils.  Humongous dinosaur bones.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is where Henry the Eighth and most of his many wives used to live. Photos were allowed and I should have taken some! There were characters dressed in costume as Henry the Eighth and his servants walking around the palace and they were completely in character, never broke character for a minute.  If you go make sure to do the audio tour, get the headphones. It was really something to hear how opulently he lived. There was even a working fountain of wine right outside the gates where even commoners could drink their fill of wine.

Windsor Castle

We got very lucky and snagged a reservation for a behind the ropes tour of Windsor Castle. Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world. It was very cool to see a castle in use since so many of the European castles inhabitants are long gone and you have to imagine what it looked like in its glory days. No need to imagine at Windsor, you’re seeing it complete with furnishings almost exactly as it looked hundreds of years ago.

The tour took place after the Castle closed to other guests and just like the name suggested, the ropes that usually wall off areas were down. Queen Elizabeth II was in the castle at the time we were there and at one point we were only three rooms away from her! Security seemed really lax to me, I can’t imagine getting that close to the U.S. President especially with so little security. Maybe there was a team of guards in the rooms that separated us.  Another place I wasn’t allowed to take photos. During the tour we heard about a fire in 1992 that wiped out a number of rooms in the palace and the effort it took to rebuild. A construction crew left a spotlight shining on a very old curtain. The curtain being old was brittle and dry so fire quickly caught and spread. It cost 36.5 million pounds to restore!!  I thought it was cool to hear about the rebuilding efforts but my tax dollars didn’t go towards the rebuild, not so sure I would have thought it cool if I were a British citizen. Fortunately, the fire started between two rooms where the valuables had been moved for maintenance work so a number of paintings and other items were saved.

Travel Stories

My trip over

Because of travel policies and Kevin having worked the first week there we flew over and also back separately and on two different airlines. The driver who picked me up kept commenting that he couldn’t believe I was traveling “all by myself.” He was asking a lot of questions about at what point I’d be meeting my husband. Then he made a call and started talking in his native language (not English) about me, I could tell he was talking about me and he kept nervously glancing in the rearview mirror at me. I was beginning to think this was going to turn out like Taken and I was going to be kidnapped. Then he said “Do I need to turn the heater on? I am worried you are cold because you are so tiny!” I swear to you I breathed such a sigh of relief that he’d tossed me back into the sea because I was too small a fish!

Kevin’s trip back

Lena Dunham of the show Girls was seated a few seats behind Kevin. Girls was one of the shows offered on the flight and happens to be a show Kevin likes.  Kevin knew Lena appears in the buff in a number of episodes. He debated whether or not it was appropriate to watch the show given the circumstances and came to the conclusion it was ok.

One comment

  1. Well that is quite a tale of your trip to London but it’s a shame you couldn’t take more photos to share. I do appreciate the ones you did take and I don’t know if I am ever going to get there. So glad you had good weather and you kids had a nice vacation.

    Keep the posting coming sweetie! They are so enjoyable to your family so many miles away.

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