Monday, July 30, 2012

London, England 2010

If you can't have tea with the Queen, 
have beers with your friends!

Chrisy, Nicole, Nikkiy and myself.
Since the Summer Olympics are underway in London, I thought I should get my s*#@ together and finally complete this blog from my trip to London almost two years ago!

Upon arrival at Heathrow we made a team decision to skip taking the subway into the city because we wanted to ride in one of London's cute black cabs also known as a hackney carriage.  Since Heathrow is so far from the center of London, it was not cheap.  But we had fun just the same. They are very large and hold quite a lot of luggage.  We had five people and bags, and the car had no problem hauling all of us to our hotel.

Subway stop - London Bridge
London is a beautiful, and expensive city.  We were lucky enough to have great hotel hookups thanks to my friend Nicole.  After getting squared away in our rooms, we headed out to explore the city.  We have always been big fans of the subway  systems in each of the cities we visit, so we picked up our three day passes for the Tube, as it's called in London, and headed out to get lost!  First priority...find some food, preferable fish and chips!  London is where I fell in love with vinegar on my chips (aka fries). 

All the Americans prior to drinks
A few years back I met my friend Lisa, a native to England, on a summer internship program at the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.  For the last fifteen years, I told her over and over "I promise, someday I'll come over for a visit."  While I was invited many times, once even for her wedding, I failed to get my butt on a plane and visit her.  I have no good reason for not getting there before then for a visit.

Stop Moving, you're jacking up the picture!
Not only did I finally make it over, but I bought five of my rowdy American friends  with me.  As hard as we tried at every opportunity to embarrass Lisa and her husband, we failed.  Lisa does fairly great job at challenging me in the rowdy competition.  Lisa and her husband Anthony joined us the first evening that we were in London at "The Eye", a giant Ferris-wheel in the middle of London.  Just to prove that it's impossible to embarrass Lisa, she found me by screaming my name over and over in the middle of the crowded area almost at the top of her lungs until finally I heard her!  This is the exact reason I love Lisa!  Best welcome I've ever had to a city!
Lisa, trying to be inconspicuous!

After we met up and rode "The Eye", we headed out for some pints of beer and a trip down memory lane.  Many of those stories are not meant to be repeated in a public blog, but after a few beers, we were on our way to repeating some of those memories. Since this was just our first night, we decided to head back home and get some sleep so we could get up early and see some sights.  We did still have a few nights to make bad decisions!

Changing of the Guard
The next morning Mike, Phillip and myself got up and around just a little earlier than the room with all the girls in it, so we headed out to get some breakfast and a good spot at Buckingham Palace to view the changing of the guard.

There were thousands of people everywhere. I've seen guard changes before in other cities, but in London it's the longest ceremony I have ever seen and it's done to marching band music.  And not only is it marching band music, but they played crazy songs like "A whole new world" from Aladdin.  I think there might have even been a Britney Spears song in there someplace.  I really wasn't expecting that.

Notting Hill at Portobello Road Market
After the changing of the guard we decided to grabbed some lunch.  We found a cozy spot (sorry the restaurant name escapes me now) close to the Notting Hill area and ordered ourselves some more fish and chips and a few pints of beer while waited for the rest of our group to meet up with us.  Once we were all together we made our way through the colorful streets of Notting Hill to the Portobello Market for a little shopping entertainment. This was the perfect opportunity for us to stock up on souvenirs as everything is very cheap.

This picture makes me laugh every time!
After a few hours of shopping it was time for dinner and drinks.  Many, many hours after that, we eventually all ended up back at our hotel, some by cab and some by foot.  It was a long night of over consumption as you can see by the picture, everyone seemed to have a good time.  This picture is about the only one that was not incriminating, so please feel free to use your imagination!  Actually you might have to, cause I'm not even sure any of us can remember what exactly happened....I only remember that I was one of the walkers that night, and that we were a LONG ways away from the hotel.
Nicole, Mike and myself at the end of the night.!

On our last day in London we spent a majority of our time trying to fit in as many sights as possible.  Big Ben, London Bridge, Westminster Abby, The Tower of London just to name a few.  We spent a lot of time on our feet and really pushed through to see as much as we could.  We finished the night with at the Shakespeare's Globe where we saw "MacBeth".  

Shakespear's Globe Theater

 I would say that when visiting cities, my attention span only allows me about three days tops before I'm ready to move on to the next location, but London is one of those cities that I will probably visit again someday because I simply didn't have enough time to do most of the things I wanted to.

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