A Jolly Good Time

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.
London Bridge Hotel room
London Bridge Hotel room

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.

Tower Bridge:
The Tower Bridge in London

Buckingham Palace (so much smaller than I imagined it):
Outside of Buckingham Palace

Westminster Abbey:
Westminster Abbey

Tower of London (a part of it):
Tower of London

Big Ben:
Big Ben!

Trafalgar Square:
Trafalgar Square in London

The Top of the Monument to the Great Fire of London (you climb 311 steps…and get a certificate):
Top of the Monument to the Great Fire of London

Inside the London Eye:
A View from 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!
The Misanthrope - London

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:
Conveyor Belt Lebanese Cuisine

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.
The Black Box of the Tate Modern Museum
Tate Modern Museum London

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!

10 Comments

Filed under Charm City Kim Travels

10 responses to “A Jolly Good Time

  1. 1) Jealous, jealous, jealous!

    2) Love the ear flaps. I hate them on everyone else.

    3) One of the items on my list of things to do before I die is actually to take an impromptu trip. Another is to travel to Europe. Please see 1.

    Thanks! The ear flaps saved me on that trip. It was so frickin’ cold.

    And go! Our whole thought for going was that we should get in these impromptu trips before kids and whatnot.

  2. Hmm, never thought it could be like this…. very strange

  3. I LOVE London. I spent a semester abroad over there and want to go back so badly.

    You guys saw a ton in 3 days and will just have to plan another trip back! And plan to spend a Saturday there in order to check out the Portobello Market in Notting Hill. By far, one of my favorite places when I was over there.

    Oh and so glad you got a deal on theater tickets. My roommate and I used to buy day of single “student” tickets and we saw a ton for SO cheap.

    I definitely missed a ton of things… so yes, another trip is definitely in order!

    I’ve always wished that I studied abroad for a semester. I was such a wimp when I was younger and now I regret never taking a chance!

  4. Kt

    I almost think to sight-see, you need to marathon through it! Looks like you saw the majority of what you needed to in London.

    And lucky for you, next time you guys come over, we brought English brand tea home and we make it here almost everyday. We’ll have to make you a cup (with milk)!

    Please do! I’ll feel less like a fraud if I’m getting tea from people who actually drink it (and from someone who is a Brit).

    We picked up some loose leaf “morning tea” but I haven’t made it yet. I need to get it from people who I deem “pro” first. :-)

  5. *sigh*

    I want to go! When I did my semester abroad in Italy, we took a fast, super whirlwind 3 day weekend trip to London – we were there for 3 nights and it was the most exhausting trip I’ve ever taken. We rushed around to see everything, saw a good amount of stuff but not nearly enough, and I’m dying to go back to have more time!

    I drink “English” style tea all the time – it’s so delicious. It’s pretty much replaced coffee for me, and I couldn’t be happier!

    You studied abroad in Italy?! Man – I really sucked at taking advantage of my youth and doing something fun like that!!

    Okay – I really need to take the plunge with tea. :-)

  6. The Far away one

    You want to drink some English tea? Go to my mother’s house. She has loads of Typhoo I took over because my dad became addicted. It’s cheaper than a flight. I suppose it’s better in winter, but did you by any chance blow your nose while in London and notice it was black? I love the Tate Modern too! I was there the first summer it opened. There was a big metal tower piece you climbed up and it had doors. As you could only go up a few people at a time, one could get up to much mischief at the top of a tower with a big metal door…

    Your mom asked us to bring her tea but we totally forgot. And I thought she asked for Liptons?

    Why would my snot be black in London?!

  7. Loved seeing all the pictures of your trip. It makes me want to visit London now.

    Thanks for sharing!

    I recommend a visit!

  8. OMG! I loved London! Looks like you had a chance to see a lot of things…though I’m sure hurriedly. I want to go back for the London Eye! Amazing all that you took in in just a few days. I was there over a week and barely got all that stuff in.

    We were marathon sight-seeing! While we saw a lot, we were honestly exhausted when the entire trip was over.

  9. The Far away one

    What she really wants is this Lipton flavoured tea which had a French name so she thinks must come from France direct. She doesn’t get the concept of branding… Lipton doesn’t mean much over here, if it even exists. I tried to explain this, but you know the deal
    London is the dirtiest city in Europe. The water is so hard that you can’t lather soap to wash. Clean face as you leave int he morning, feels grimy in like 10 minutes. Air pollution leads to black snot. Like I said, I loved there in summer which is probably much worse. But it is why I love Edinburgh sooooo much more!!!! But everyone has to do London at least once!

    Jeremy said he had black snot and said it was due to the air pollution. I guess I didn’t even notice!!

    And Edinburgh is still my absolute favorite city that I’ve visited. It would be cool if I could move there!

  10. Pingback: Reflection of my 20s Part 2 « Charm City Kim

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