Tuesday, April 6, 2010

London Day 1

Call me old fashioned, but I definitely have some paranoia regarding blogging about vacation while still on vacation. So, now that we are back in town, we are so excited to share some highlights of our adventure with you!

Lucky for us, the tube runs all the way to Heathrow Airport, so getting to the hotel wasn't difficult. Well, not too difficult. Getting two massive suitcases, a carry-on suitcase, a backpack, a purse, our coats, and ourselves onto the train was slightly awkward. At one point I was actually buried underneath our luggage to accommodate other passengers who were determined to sit through our journey into town. This was the intro to Lesson #1: London is FULL of tourists. The tube, the streets, the sites, the shops...are all buzzing with people.

When we arrived at Park Plaza before 10am, we were worried whether they would be able to accommodate us that early. Amazingly, they had a room prepared and we were able to unload and clean up. Here's our hotel in the middle of downtown Westminster (picture taken from the London Eye, so it's a bit hazy):

Hello Wedgewood china mugs.

Hello modern, beautiful bathroom.

Hello crazy model looking over our room (that's the closet).

We embraced the opportunity to explore our hotel, unload our baggage, organize our room, and freshen up after the long flight. After a brief rest, we set out for our first day on the town. Our hotel sits just to one side of Westminster bridge...

..which also is home to Big Ben and the London Eye...

...and Parliament.

Needless to say, we were introduced to quite a few famous places right off the bat. Several vendors were selling snacks on the bridge, and we thought it might be nice to eat something. This led us into Lesson #2: London loves cash. Granted, vendors accepting cash only didn't come as much of a surprise, but as we continued on our search for lunch we realized that many establishments did not accept credit cards. We finally found a cozy, crowded pub that accepted plastic and enjoyed a traditional British meal - fish and chips! It was very good and seemed a much better option than steak and kidney pudding. I know, I'm sure you think I'm close-minded, but that just sounds awful!

We decided to spend our first afternoon on a double decker bus tour. That way we could get a feel for the city and sights. We saw a few sites that we actually didn't return to later - London Bridge, Tower Bridge, City Hall, and the Tower of London. We would have loved to have seen everything up close, but we just didn't have the time! On the tour we experienced our first London rain, which is why we don't really have any pictures from that day. Taking pictures in an open-roofed, moving vehicle while it's raining was just a little more than we could handle on the first day, but we had fun nonetheless and our guide was entertaining.

After the bus ride, we wandered through Piccadilly Circus to Chinatown. We passed a few mom and pop shops that looked promising for dinner, but again...we had no cash with us (refer to Lesson #2)! It worked out for the best because we ended up eating delicious pad thai at a restaurant further down the road.

It was a long day, and after dinner we were ready to kick back and relax. We headed back to the hotel for a movie and some much needed sleep!

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