Well, this weekend ended up a lot more busy and exhausting than I thought it would! You all hear me talk about the restaurant so much, so we are going to take a break from a typical Marvelous in My Monday post and continue to the recap of our Tour d’Europe Honeymoon! Paris and Rome are up next!
I hope that you had a marvelous Valentine’s Day weekend (check out all the ways that I love my boy and some fun alternative gift ideas here) and a marvelous start to your week! Thank you Katie for giving us an excuse to remember the brighter aspects of life!
London Day 2 (Continued)
Picking up from where we left off, Alex and I were at Buckingham Palace, and I wanted to take a little gander at the Royal Mews, being a horse-girl and all. Well, tell you what, that didn’t disappoint.
We arrived about 45ish minutes before close, but we decided to risk it and go in. So glad that we did. It was about far more than just horses (though they did have a look into the stables, the tack, and an arena at the end).
I actually wish that there had been more about the life of the horses, where they actually kept them, what their training was like, but I understand that most people aren’t so concerned with those things. Not everyone can be as cool as me. The Gold State Coach, on the other hand is pretty epic.
After this, we walked back through Westminster, across the Thames, and over to the London Eye.
Following our tour on the Eye, which, btdubs, has a really cool touchscreen thingy that tells you what you are looking at, we went to conveyor belt sushi resto Yo Sushi! We were not so impressed by the food (again) but it was fun and served its purpose.
You grab whatever comes by (which is sometimes pretty frustrating if they aren’t making/sending around what you want), and the color of the dish indicates the price. At the end they tally it up and you pay according to that. If you want something hot or specialty, you buzz a server. Fun, but the food could have been better.
After this, we (surprise surprise) went back to the hotel and knocked out.
London Day 3
This day, we actually DID make it up in time for breakfast. Which was delicious. One thing I can say about all of the places we stayed in Europe–the breakfasts were amazing. Each hotel had a completely different buffet, and different strengths, but we loved them all.
We decided the night before to forego more museums and fighting with people at the Tower of London (even though I did want to go, we wanted to see more of London and the neighborhoods if we could). I went up to Regents Park for a run (which was great) before breakfast (oh, did I forget to mention that I was running a half marathon 48 hours after we were to return to the US?? yeah, I was tapering like a champ 😀 ie walking everywhere in boots, carrying a giant camera, and eating everything in sight. Hey, I pr’ed the half so BOOM!)
If you know anything about me, you know that I am a total tourism snob. As in, I am soooo anti-establishment tourism and tours and cruises and manufactured experiences. The cruise that I went on with Alex’s family summer before last was the first I had ever been on, and I was honestly nervous about how off-put I would be by the whole thing because I know how much they love those types of things. I canNOT stand the whole double-decker-bus-you-around-and-tell-you-the-requisite-stories-about-places shindigs. I completely understand that this is a great option for many people, but the month that I lived in Jamaica before Royal Caribbean came in and created a fake “historic quarter” in the middle of an actually incredibly historic town really colored my ability to accept these types of things. Plus, live for any amount of time in a top tourist destination (NYC, Chicago), and you will soon learn to abhor all things costumed and solicitous. Also, I am in Historic Preservation, and my studies emphasized getting at the core, nitty-gritty past of a place rather than white-washing history, so that doesn’t help either.
Alex and I wanted to see a bit of the city of London itself, not just the “hot” destinations, and we weren’t interested in shopping (believe me, we were paying for our trip, aside from our plane tickets over, ourselves, and we were about to move and have to buy an apartment’s worth of things) but rather in spending any moneys on experiences. After a little bit of research, we decided on London Walks, a tour company that got high marks for being rather anti-establishment. Most of the tours are led by comedians, historians, and a motley crue of misfits, and they actually take you on foot out into the city, so it seemed to be a good fit. The Mayfair district tour fit our schedule, with the potential (if we felt like it, and if we hoofed it) to go to a Kensington tour that afternoon.
Though I am now far removed from the tour, so you will have to excuse me, I can tell you we had a great time and learned a lot about the Upper East Side of London, as it were. Our tour guide was, honestly, a little too impressed with himself, but he led a great tour, and one filled with glimpses into how the original 1%’ers lived. The houses were magnificent, the stories hilarious, and the tidbits juicy. Plus, we got to see an area of the city that we would have likely just skirted around, or, had we gone into it, would have had no clue what we were looking at.
Loved seeing where the elitist elites stay. The Connaught Hotel is one of the most famous and private hotels in London. And they take themselves very seriously. And again, Londoners drive very nice automobiles.
The tour brought us back up near the big shopping avenues of London, and by then Alex and I were beyond ravenous (duh) and decided that food >>> Kensington (sorry, Vanessa (Austin Powers)). We found a pub (that was packed), ordered lunch and a Magners, and decreed that Crabbies >> Magners. Don’t waste your time. Since Alex hadn’t gotten to see much of the city beyond Westminster (again, I had gone for a run that morning), we decided to go and explore Hyde and Kensington Parks, with designs to go to the Kensington Palace Orangerie and possibly do High Tea (this was the one touristy thing, other than the Crown Jewels and London Eye, that I was willing to admit to wanting to do). So we meandered our way through the parks and finally made our destination via the back.
Also, if you don’t think that the sign for the toilets is not the funniest/best thing ever, then we can’t be friends. #sorryimnotsorry
I think that jet lag, a ridiculous amount of walking, my running that morning, and just the excitement of the wedding finally caught up with us, and we were positively beat. Being about .25 mi from our hotel, we opted to go back and be lame. Very common themes of the trip: rising early, doing entirely too much walking, getting VERY hungry, having to pee, eating dinner at an unsocialable hour, crashing early, and sleeping HARD. Also, afternoon drinks to hold us over to the still rather unsocialable hours that we ate dinner at, and underestimating how far things really were from our hotel, etc. But we had a greeat time.
We were so unsocialable, actually, that we decided to be incredibly lame and eat at our hotel. There were some really highly rated ethic cuisine establishments near to us, but we were a) so tired and b) wanted something simple. So burger and fries and beer it was. ICe cream was procurred later. And Alex watched some idiot movie on the TV, the first time we had turned it on since being there. I rested–Paris was up next!!!
London Day 4/Paris Day 1
This is when the trip really, really got gooooood. Paris was, and is, an extraordinary place in this world, and we were incredibly spoiled by it. We had perfect weather the entire time were there (much better than the dreary London weather), and the room in our hotel had a view of Notre Dame (not a huge view, but a view nonetheless!). I knew that I would like Paris, but I anticipated returning to Rome the most: I had been there before (in winter, with UVA) and had adored it). But this time, Paris stole the show and my heart.
Morning shakeout run that was essentially an exercise in riding the struggle bus, but was necessary.
Eurostar travel over to the mainland.
We arrived into the Garde du Norde, and after some issues getting a Metro pass (and Euros, etc), we finally figured it out and emerged on the left bank at Saint Michel. And then we made our way to our favorite hotel of the trip, for our favorite 72 hours of trip.
Paris, je t’aime.
TO BE CONTINUED….
What type of tourist are you? An on-the-grounds, out-in-the-city type? Or the organized tour/expedition with the large group type?