August 22, 2011

London :: Part One

The journey from Paris to London was eventful but that is a story for another time. Let's just say that the United Kingdom customs people who work at the train station should be given an extra dose of happy in their morning coffees. The train ride was neat though and it was nice to be able to just kick back and relax after a whirlwind 2 days at Disney.

When we arrived in London we were all fairly exhausted. We said goodbye to Josh and Gina, after receiving excellent tube directions from them and Kinley, and headed off to our home away from home for the next 5 days! We rented an apartment from a very nice man and his son at Charleston House in West Kensington, two tube stops from the Boyds. The apartment was perfect for our needs. It had a small kitchen, a computer and TV (which we never turned on), a cozy little bed and a bathroom. It was so nice to have a kitchen. Philip made me breakfast in bed most days and we were able to pack our own lunches and buy desserts to eat in the room rather than paying big bucks to eat out. Here are some pictures of our place for the week:

Our first day in London was Monday. We all made the executive decision the night before to sleep in and meet up for lunch. We ate lunch outside in front of the Britan Supreme Court building. It was nice to have the sun join us for our snack. We were also able to snap a picture of the Parliament building and Big Ben with some rare blue sky and sunshine!
After lunch we went to tour Westminster Abbey. We took an audio tour and learned a lot. They had a children's scavenger hunt that was fun to help Kinley complete. We saw several monuments and graves including Charles Dickens, Handel, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The church building itself is oddly set up but absolutely beautiful. The ceilings in several of the rooms are very intricate. One of our favorite things was the prayer on the hour every hour. The Chaplan came over the speaker reminding the visitors that we are in a church building and its primary purpose is for worship. He then asks for silence and says a prayer over the speaker. It was really nice and a great contrast to Notre Dame which felt very unlike a church.

We spent the late afternoon exploring the British Library. A free attraction and a must see in my opinion. Inside the library they have an excellent gallery. They have a display of Handel's Messiah written out in his own handwriting, Jane Eyre, Beethoven's tuning fork, Henry VIII's prayer scroll and other really neat artifacts. We could have spent several more hours there but unfortunately they close at 6pm. We enjoyed Indian food for dinner before heading back to the apartment for some much needed rest.

Day 2::
This morning we visited with my grandpa's cousin's daughter Caitlin. She showed us around some of her favorite places in London. We walked through Hyde Park and the visited the National Gallery before having a picnic lunch in Trafalgar Square. Pictured below.

In the afternoon we met up with the Boyds and explored the British Natural History Museum. They had a fabulous display of gems and jewels which included a display with 12,000 different colored diamonds. After the museum we took a walk to Hyde Park which is HUGE and really quite pretty. We went to see Princess Diana's memorial fountain which was closed for annual maintenance (in June, weird). We stopped at a cafe and had our first tea experience. Delicious!

Then we walked on to see Peter Pans statue and Kensington Palace. We took a double decker bus home and sat on the top. It was a really neat way to travel the city and see some of the sights.

The best part about apartment dwelling while on vacation is that you can enjoy fabulous home cooked meals with friends. Gina graciously cooked for us on several occasions. Tonight we had pancakes with nutella and strawberries!

Stay tuned for more London posts :)

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