As I mentioned yesterday, my husband and I took a super secret vacation the week after Christmas. I didn’t intend for it to be so secret – and in fact, didn’t realize just how secretive I kept it until I shared my Flickr pics with friends and got lots of, “you went to Paris?!” responses.
We booked the trip very last minute and with the holiday and my graduation – it just became a topic that fell by the wayside. I also failed to plan anything for this trip (something that I kind of regret).
I have always wanted to go to London and Paris. I still hold on to a dream of moving to Europe and living an uber fabulous life. This short trip just solidified that dream for me.
If I had to do it all over again, aside from wishing I had done some actual planning, I wouldn’t have squeezed in 2 large cities into 1 week. We definitely rushed around to catch the sights (something I like to refer to as “marathon sight-seeing”) and it left us exhausted. We need a vacation from our vacation!
We spent 3 full days in London and 2 full days in Paris (2 days were lost traveling).
I bring to you… the jolly good time in London.
We flew out on December 26th. I was so unprepared for this trip that we didn’t even pack until the MORNING OF THE FLIGHT (another decision I regretted… as I was feeling pretty unstylish abroad). With the layover in Ottawa and the time difference, we didn’t get into London until Sunday morning.
We stayed at the London Bridge Hotel. It was a great location (right outside of an Underground stop and very close to the Tower Bridge and Tower of London). Our room was a shoebox but it was very cute and clean. Our bed took up the majority of the room (and it was not very comfortable) but overall, I liked the hotel.
Breakfast was included and while it wasn’t anything impressive (most hotel included breakfasts are just a buffet of crap) – I did appreciate the french pressed coffee. Regretfully, I never took the plunge and drank tea.
Because we had such a short amount of time there and SO MUCH TO SEE, we did one of those open bus tours. I love those things! Because of the off season, the tour company offered a 2 day pass for the price of 1. We checked out: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Tower of London… so much. To keep your attention, I’m just going to post a bunch of pictures of what we saw.
Buckingham Palace (so much smaller than I imagined it):
Tower of London (a part of it):
The Top of the Monument to the Great Fire of London (you climb 311 steps…and get a certificate):
Inside the London Eye:
And that’s just a small chunk of our trip. Another highlight was checking out a play in the west End. Originally I wanted to check out “Wicked” but read the paper and saw that Keira Knightley was starring in a play. I got starstruck and opted to see that show. So we went and saw The Misanthrope. We walked into the box office at 2:15pm one day and asked if there were any available tickets for the 7pm show. The guy said there were standing room only seats available (boo!) and then mentioned that there were box seats still available that normally fetched 125 pounds A PIECE. But since it was the day of and they weren’t sold yet, they offered them to us for half off. SCORE!
As for eats… here is where I wished I would have planned better. I didn’t know that London was voted one of the best vegetarian cities IN THE WORLD. We basically winged it most of the time and ate at a few unmemorable places. We did grab indian food one night but apparently went to a not very impressive indian restaurant (um – I thought London was known for having great indian food?).
But one day (our last day… which happened to be a half day since we were flying out that afternoon) – I forced Jeremy to make the quick trip to Harrod’s. When I realized that I couldn’t afford a pair of socks there, we decided to grab lunch. Due to the time crunch, we ran across the street to the Harrod’s food court type place and dined at a Lebanese restaurant that offered appetizers on a conveyor belt:
And the last thing I want to mention is the Tate Modern Museum. I *love* modern art. It is unbelievably entertaining (much more so than 16th century art). One of their big exhibits was the “Big Black Box”. And its just what the title describes. It is a giant black box that you walk into.
It is pitch black and as you’re walking in, you can’t see a damn thing. You run into people and you wonder what the f you’re doing. And then you reach the back of the box and turn around. At this point, you realize that (1) your eyes have dilated and (2) you can see EVERYONE walking into the box. So you can see the people who are scared of the unknown and you can see those people who have no issue running into the dark. Weird.
Also in this museum was a featured artist named Paul McCarthy. There was an art installation in a separate room with a giant sign warning of graphic images, nudity, blah blah blah. Of course I had to go in.
Oh.my.god. I watched a video of a man throwing around raw meat in a bathtub and dry heaving, a man rubbing what looked like lip balm on his weiner and I don’t even remember what else… the images are burned into my brain FOREVER. You really should read his wikipedia entry. Go ahead. Go. This man is REAL.
We also went on a Jack the Ripper walking tour (led by the author of a Jack the Ripper book that I giddily purchased and had him sign like a dork).
It was freezing and it drizzled/lightly rained for 2 of the days we were there. I definitely would love to go back but PLAN my trip a bit better. Maybe planning a trip (and perhaps giving myself more time there) would allow me to actually RELAX on the trip and not make me feel like I was running a damn marathon.
And I never drank any English tea!