London baby!

Trip Start Apr 15, 2009
Trip End Jul 10, 2009

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A 6 hour plane flight with British Airways (premium economy of course :) ) was all it took to arrive in the land of kings, queens and pints of lager! It was a good flight, no complaints about BA at all - hostesses were all very polite and helpful, and the seats were comfy.

We jumped on the Heathrow Express train, and arrived 15 mins later at the front of our hotel across from Paddington Station. Although it was early (about 7.30 am) they let us check into our room, which was handy as a nap was needed! Neither Jase or I are very good at sleeping on planes. So we napped, then it was off to explore!

We wandered down to Kensington Gardens to see the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain - which wasn't going!! Bit of a disappointment, but we kept going until we got to Kensington Palace, where Diana had lived until she died. It was also the home of Queen Victoria when she was young. The State Apartments were fantastic, beautiful history in every room. That night we had dinner at a little Italian restaurant down the road, and retired pretty early.

Day two (Wednesday) was again a "bus" day - we caught the open top bus to Madame Tussaud's, where we had a great time getting pics with all the celebrities! From there we caught the bus to Trafalgar Square, where a whole group of singing, yelling Spainish soccer supporters were celebrating their Champions League win - very noisy!!! We had a bit of lunch, and walked down to the Strand (I spent a lot of the time in London spotting streets from Monopoly!). We found the Australian Embassy, and pledged our compulsory vote for the daylight savings referendum - didn't want to arrive home to find a fine in our letterbox :) We rode the bus through the city then, went over the Tower Bridge (which was a bit exciting), and saw a lot of the sights. Got off at the Tower of London, but it turned out that we didn't have enough time to see it before it closed, so we had to put that off for a couple of days. We battled the peak hour crowds and had a bit of shop on Regent St (where I purchased myself a pretty new phone :) ) and caught the tube back to Paddington Station. It was a quiet and cheap dinner back in the hotel room that night, as we were up early the next day.

A big Greyline tour bus picked us up at 8am the next morning to take us on a day trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. The English countryside is absolutely breathtaking - so green and almost postcard-perfect! Lots more history at Windsor, however Queenie was not in residence to offer us a cuppa!! We also managed to see part of the Changing of the Guard, before we rushed back to the bus. We stopped at a very cute little English pub in Stonehenge, and were served up some of the best chicken pie I've ever tasted!! So yummy!! Stonehenge itself was downright eerie - lots of black clouds came over the site as we stood there, which made for some really great photos! We passed Royal Ascot race track as we were heading out to Bath, which was good to see. Bath was a pretty little place, very much an English village, and the old Roman baths were very interesting. It was a long day but we saw some fantastic things, and finished up with a nice dinner.

On Friday we mastered the London tube - so easy to use and great to get around! We saw the Tower of London (wouldn't want to be any taller than 6 ft in those days!!), and went for a ride on the London Eye - what a great view! We got a few good shots of Big Ben, and walked over to Westminister Abbey to find a flower exhibition preventing anyone from seeing the inside!! I was a bit annoyed about that! But we made do with some photos of the outside, and caught the tube to Buckingham Palace. That evening we met up with Lauren, a good friend from school, and her boyfriend, and had quite a big night in an English pub :) And yes, it was an interesting experience catching the tube in the middle of London after a few ales!!!!

All in all, we LOVED our time in London - just so much history and things to do. We are making a few changes to our itinerary to have more days there at the end of the trip, perhaps to head out of the city again to see a bit more of the countryside. Looking forward to going back!!
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