Hello! So sorry for the silence and thank you for standing by while I gallivanted through London. I’m back and I’m so excited to tell you all about our trip, so let’s jump right in! (And click the pics for larger/better images!)
First things first, travel companions are key. It’s highly recommended that when traveling overseas for an extended amount of time that you choose your mate carefully. Nette? I love her. We are each other’s Maids of Honor, for pete’s sake, but knowing one another for 22 years made it that much easier to just BE. There was no judgment when one became crabby or hangry or cold or rained upon… or all of the above. Plus, there’s not one other person on this planet that brings out my inner dork the way she does. Like so:
Secondly, it’s important when planning a Life List trip to plan carefully… but don’t overplan! For example, the first few days there we had every intention of waking up at 9am, but were both burrowed under the covers until 11am. Oops. But we went with it because hey, it’s vacation! Another point was that we knew the weather would be wonky, so we waited to purchase bus tour tickets and our admission to the London Eye. Once we had a good idea of what the weather would be (rainy/sunny), we made our choices that way. Because hello, it’s far better to be riding around on a big red tour bus in the rain than it is to be at the top of the London Eye with miserable rainy downpours. Even though we went up to the top of the Shard during a rainstorm, the sun cleared enough toward the end to allow us some crazy good photos! In the end, our “non-plan plan” worked amazingly: we did and saw everything we wanted, without feeling pressured, rushed or overwhelmed.
Along the lines of not planning too much, we were open to suggestions or changes to the loose non-plan. We scrapped the long trip to Olympic Park and the Westfield Stratford (a huge mall) and added a trip to Kings Cross to Platform 9 3/4! <– Harry Potter reference, for those who live under a rock. I don’t think these two pictures even capture the absolute childlike joy we felt.
We rubbed elbows with some awesome locals who claimed we “didn’t look like the type to be drinking a lager” (took that as a compliment, thankyouverymuch) and played obvious tourist with equal dedication.
The food… oh the food. The stereotype about British food didn’t really apply with us, so we either went to too many fancy places or we just chose very well. We only had ONE meal each that disappointed in our entire week there. The offender was a pub near our hotel that should definitely stick with drinks only. Nette’s pork schnitzel could have shriveled a slug with its salt content and/or acted as a chewtoy for her boxer puppy. My beef & stout pie was passable, only because I’m a sucker for pastry crust, but the rest of the plate was ewgross. Gummy mashed potatoes and bland, barely blanched cabbage and carrots. On the other hand, we had a phenomenal Champagne High Tea at The Ritz, a luxurious three course meal at The Dorchester and a ridiculously great meal at Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. Nette and I both fell in love with clotted cream – who knew it’s like butter, but better?!? We became regulars every morning at Pret A Manger: Strong cappuccino with a yogurt and granola parfait or a croissant were my go-tos. It’s a very good thing Pret isn’t anywhere near me, because I’m still dreaming of the most perfect almond croissant. Seriously. Life-changing. And one night at our hotel’s restaurant, our dinner consisted of a bottle of Mumm champagne (holy GOOD) and dessert. Death by Chocolate for Nette. Sticky Toffee Pudding for me. Shutyourfaceitwassogood.
I adore London, for lack of a better description, for being old. Even the most run-down neighborhoods manage to stand up with dignified pomp, while the masterpieces astound equally in their enthralling and meticulous architectural beauty. We could have stayed at St. Paul’s Cathedral for hours. Luckily, that gorgeous domed icon kept appearing in many and varied ways! It seemed every turn of the corner led to a new perspective of modern meets history. An observant person will be dazzled often.
Happily, we checked everything off the list: The London Eye, St. Paul’s, The Dorchester, High Tea(s), Bus Tour, Millennium Bridge, The Shard, Borough Market, Platform 9 3/4. But you know what’s awesome about trips like this? It’s that yes, you remember the big ticket items, but what you remember the most are the little things.
- The degree of puffy swelling we endured due to the flights. There were multiple nights of soaking angry feet and legs in an icy bathtub.
- Nette getting shut in the door of a tour bus while trying to exit.
- The one. horrendous. meal.
- Our absolute amazement in realizing how spoiled we Americans are with our FREE access to WiFi.
- Overweight luggage. Oops.
- Clotted cream!!!
- That the flower arrangements at The Dorchester were exactly my dream wedding colors.
- Our self-photo-bombing technique.
- Finding Nette’s wedding jewelry and getting all teary.
- That our fiances were adorably worried/concerned/attentive during our trip. We are truly loved.
- The world’s most bizarre shower setup.
- That this was our last big trip before Nette and I are both hitched and starting to think about making a family! We are incredibly grateful that we have so many memories to put into our life treasure box.
I feel blessed, grateful and so, so lucky that London 2013 happened, and happened so amazingly well. Mighty Peach List # 43? Done! Cheerio!