Thursday, June 30, 2016

Slow and steady wins the race...

Oh boy. Did we have a slow start. The last couple of days have been cold and wet. The kids continued to venture out in shorts and tank tops, forgetting, or failing to understand, that London is not Richmond (VA). Our plan this morning was to head to a Primark (think UK Old Navy) to see about some rain coats. This time, the kids were dressed appropriately, having learned their lesson two days in row. The only problem? It was gorgeous outside. And warm. Too warm for the many layers we had all had on. Oh well. Joke was on us.

From there, we decided to walk up Oxford Street, which as it turns out, is a lot of the same stores one would find in the US - including Claire's, Foot Locker, and Gap. We decided to stop for some coffee (fliter - one white and one black) before meandering to the British Museum. Only, the meandering turned into walking in circles, as apparently, Google Maps has a really hard time figuring out where exactly you are in London and which direction you are facing. Stupid app. Sky would take us in the direction the arrow was facing, only to find out after a few blocks that we had gone the wrong way. After about 30 minutes of literally walking in circles, we stopped in a Pret a Manger (we REALLY need these in the US) for some picnic food, which we enjoyed in Russell Square after asking directions to the British Museum (finally!).

First full day: Am I officially British yet? (Part Two: Post Break)

Where was I?

Right...we headed back out of the house around 5:00ish after taking a quick break to change clothes (kids were cold) and use free bathrooms. Paying for public bathrooms is interesting to me. They attempted it in Seattle (perhaps other places as well?), but when we lived there back in 2004, people were using the bathrooms to lock themselves in and do drugs. I haven't really seen these take off in the states. Here, they are usually (so it seems) in train stations and cost like 30 pence.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

First full day: Am I officially British yet? (Part One: Pre Break)

Alarms were set this time. There was no way I was sleeping in again. Even though, due to the time difference, the kids were bears to get to sleep, I was bent on waking everyone up at 7am so we could finally shake this jetlag. Little did I know the fights of the night before, would become the wake up fights today. By 8:30 am, we were all out of bed and by 9:00 am, we were out the door. It was literally, a Christmas miracle (okay, not literally. I can hear my fifth block yelling at me for misusing literally, but I'm leaving it. For effect and all. I'm calling it narrative license).

Today's first stop was Buckingham Palace for the changing of the card, scheduled to begin promptly at 11:30, but travel guides suggest getting there early as people cram in and if you aren't close, you don't see. Noted. And dismissed, sorta kinda.  We got there early-ish. I would say around 10:15, which was a full 75 minutes early. The crowds were already packing in, but the side gates had room. We gambled on going around to the front, and miraculously found a corner to shimmy into where all three kids could be at the gate. Perfect!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

And...we're off

Today was really all about getting to know our way around, but also checking out some cool attractions. First stop: Trafalgar Square, Nelson's Column and the National Gallery.

When we stepped out of the flat, the sun was shining. The air was warm. It was 1:00(We slept late.) We didn't yet have an Oyster Card (this fancy pants card that lets you ride public transportation. Okay, not fancy, but we bought the seven day cards so we could travel endlessly on the tube, buses, trams, etc. How's that for super thrifty?). We spent about an hour wandering aimlessly around Notting Hill just looking at the beautiful houses, streets and shops. We wandered through side streets, such as the beauty to the left here. I want streets like this in the states. Flower baskets hanging effortlessly from windows, unassuming doors that lead to what is invariably beautifully decorated homes awaiting you in this quaint part of town. Sigh. Can I move here?

We found our way to the Notting Hill Gate (tube station) and we were on our way! With our trusty travel guide in hand (thanks anonymous friend!), we made our way to the first stop.

Once Upon Arrival

Once we arrived in London, we needed to meander through customs, collect our luggage and figure out the way to Notting Hill and the flat. Easy enough. We arrived, but then realized we were all starving. It was nearing 10pm in London, but our bodies had not yet adjusted to the time and it felt like dinner time. We took a quick walk to a nearby grocery, bought cheese and crackers, frozen pizzas, and a few breakfast staples, including coffee and milk (some of you are giggling at that because you know me so well). We headed home, snacked up, then hit the sack.

There are no pictures to show this because we all slept from about midnight until 1pm. Yeah, I think that delayed plane, airport sleeping stuff had us all kinds of twisted up. As soon as we realized what had happened, we jumped out of bed and started the morning hustle to get out of the house. More to come as the day goes on...

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Journey Began...Ish

(With some tidbits from June 26, 2016)

I would be remiss if I didn't start at the beginning of this story. We left Richmond on June 24 to drive to Upstate NY, the home of husband's family. We left in the middle of the night, after a mere four hours of sleep in hopes of getting their quickly due the kids not needing constant bathroom breaks. For the most part, this strategy is often a raging success. This time was no different, ya know, until they woke up.

We arrived to Johnstown, NY midday, just in time for lunch. Fast forward...June 26th at 10:19 am. Our driver, Paul, arrives ahead of schedule for the trek down to the city where our plane would be departing that evening at 6:30 pm heading for a quick layover in Shannon, Ireland before carting us across the Irish Sea to London, England. We were ready, so here the journey really begins...