Sunday, March 16, 2014

London: trip over and day 1

Since I will have time in the evenings on my 6 day long adventure overseas (aka I will not be going out to the pubs late every night due to little miss!) - I am going to try to blog about interesting stuff that happens as the days roll by.  

This will be the longest post of them all because this is really my one true "tourist" day!!  I left Kansas City to head to Chicago about 12:20 and then left from Chicago to London at 6:05 - arrived about 6:30AM London time.  It was really strange because I felt like I essentially got Saturday "stolen" from me with the time change.  I still can't quite wrap my head around it!

Things to note about the trip over:
  • I thought it would be hard to say goodbye to Jimmy and Charlie but it was a LOT harder than I thought.  What's crazy is not only have I not been away from my little man for that long ever in his life, Jimmy and I haven't been apart for 6 days in probably over 5 years (before we were engaged and did long distance).  Walking away from our car at the airport, I was crying because Charlie started crying and you know, I'm emotional.  Then there were kids Charlie's age EVERYWHERE.  I swear they flocked to me.  So when I got off the plane, I was a mess.  Huge mess.   Crying in the car silently on the way to my apartment.  Get a grip.  I kept thinking to myself "what if I never quit Deloitte and I traveled every week for work?!?!".  I was very happy with the decision 23 year old Brittany made.
  • Once I got there, I was tired (only 3.5 hours of sleep on the 6 hour flight) and even though everyone advised just pushing through the day, I knew I couldn't and I would have been in a bad mood since Charlie and Jimmy were still asleep, so I went to sleep and it felt SO good.  I woke up to them face timing me after Charlie had a rough night.  Poor thing.  He didn't seem to be phased by the fact that my face was on the screen - so we'll see how this goes.
  • I felt much better after talking to them and knew I needed to get on with my day and take advantage - so that's what I did.

First stop: Lunch then Tower of London.

  • My apartment is RIGHT next to the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge.  
  • You would think lunch would have been the easy part of this.  Well, I'm a moron and didn't get any pounds before I left because I figured everyone would take my American Express.  Wrongo.  After what felt like walking around FOREVER and asking every vendor if they took that card (even KFC and Subway!), I just took my $15 cash and converted it to about 8 pounds.  And since I had already got my ticket to the Tower of London, I took advantage of the fish and chip special I saw at this one place for only 5 pounds.  Of course, the drink was extra, so now I only have 1 pound and change left.  Jimmy has been a doll in helping me talk to Amex and our bank - but in the mean time, I've stuck to places with Amex to make it easy!  (but it was good!)

Here's where the billion pictures start.  Just skip if you don't care.  But it was really neat.  LOTS of history and cool stories to go along with all the buildings and architecture. 

Outside the tower looking in

Here was a cute place I would have loved to sit down and have a drink!

Outside the Tower still

Heading in!

I hopped onto a guided tour to get some good info on everything - very helpful!

This was the Traitor's Gate and one picture of the side of the White Tower (which I eventually went into see)

Picture of the Tower Bridge from inside the grounds of the Tower of London

I loved these little houses - they are actually lived in by the folks that work at the Tower of London.  So cool.  I was obsessed with the awesome teal doors!  (But how weird that your front door opens to a billion tourists!)

I eventually left the tour and went to explore all the buildings on my own.  This one was the inside of the Beauchamp Tower and a picture the carvings prisoners that stayed their over the years engraved in the walls.  

I then made my way to the Crown Jewel exhibit - but there wasn't photography allowed.  they were SO cool and beautiful.  Lots of pictures of the current Queen and the past monarchy and what they wore for jewels.  

Then - I headed inside of the White Tower, which they said is the oldest mass tourist attraction in the world and has transformed over the years.  Lots of stuff in there about battles, armor and history about the Tower.  I have to say - this is where my legs and feet first started to hurt.  I took a few breaks to watch some of the videos they were showing.  

The million staircases up and down was one of the main reasons!  What I was astonished at was how many KIDS were there!  I kept thinking what we'd do with Charlie if he was there and there is no way he could walk all this but no way you could get a stroller around.  I would have totally used the Ergo baby (well Jimmy would have on his back), but there wasn't one person using that!  I was amazed because I thought they were all brave parents!!

 Then it was a brief tour of "Torture at the Tower" and to the Bloody Tower exhibits - which talked all about how the prisoners (however, not very many) were tortured or executed.  And a mystery of the death/murder of two young princes in those walls.  Just crazy to walk through and think of all the HISTORY there!

Another Tower Bridge pic from my walk around the wall (which was neat but LONG!).  Just so you know, you cannot turn around once you start on those things!

After all the scenery pictures, I was watching folks take pictures with the Beefeaters.  I don't think they were too pleased, but they did.  I tapped this lovely gentleman on the shoulder to ask him for a picture and he was NOT happy about it.  He said he would take a picture as long as I didn't touch him.  Who knew!?!?  I mean it's not like I put my arm around the guy!

So I was pooped.  Seriously after walking through all the exhibits that the amazing Tower of London had to offer.  But the sun was still shining and I knew I couldn't go back and jump in bed.  So I headed to starbucks (who yes, they take Amex) for a smoothie refuel.  They couldn't understand my name, so she wrote this.  I just thought it was hilarious because Jimmy calls me Berney (inside joke) and that's what it looks like.  

I decided to take a LONG walk to St. Paul's Cathedral and also walk by my office on the way there.  Which is amazingly close to my apartment, so I was happy it was easy to find.  St. Paul's Cathedral on the other hand?  When I got there, I thought I was going to faint.  Luckily, all kinds of people just sit on the steps and chill because I did just that and needed a break!

But it was beautiful outside and in - but you couldn't take pictures inside.  However, I was in shock that they had a beautiful cherry blossom tree in bloom already!  In the US, they usually don't bloom until mid-April (on our anniversary) so I had to snap a picture!

The door walking into the cathedral.  Pretty neat.

The view from the stairs.  It was quite a pretty square to sit and people watch!

This picture is random - but I went into the sushi place to see what they had (I didn't end up getting any because it was only 4PM and what they had as options I can have while pregnant, I didn't want), but it was awesome!  Just like Sakura that Jimmy and I love at home.  I told him when he comes here with me, this is a must!

 Then, a picture of my shirtless boy enjoying his lunch with dad.  I think what I missed the most was feeling somewhat cut off from the world since my work phone over here is a different number and I'm self-conscious about using to many minutes or texts or data.  So I'm trying to stick to FaceTime and only using data on wi-fi, which is fine, but just less constant communication with the family!  So I appreciated the pictures that were coming in of my sweet boy!!

Last but not least, one more picture of the Tower bridge, but at night from my apartment.  Um, yes, it's beautiful!

It's off to work tomorrow to meet all my London office friends; I'm excited to get to meet them in person vs video conference.  I have a full week of work planned until Thursday (I travel home Friday), but am looking forward to hopefully getting a little more exploring in because I want to check out Buckingham Palace!  Maybe I'll catch a glimpse of Kate and George on a walk!!?

(BTW - these kids and their accents here are so sweet, it just kills me!!)  

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  1. Cheerio! Oh, you kill me. Glad you are making the most of your trip!!

  2. Wow, looks great mama! Have fun the rest of the week, I'll do my best to keep sending pics of Chas and I