Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Day 10 *English Bus Tour #1

Last night there was one of the biggest thunder/lightening storms I've ever seen. Made it hard to sleep and we both knew we would need our rest for the morning when we headed to Stratford Upon Avon, the Cotswolds, and Oxford. ****** It was such a nice day. Though the weather wasn't actually what one would call nice it was perfect for lots of walking. And we out ran the rain the whole day. It would start to mist and it be time to head to the next spot. ***** Our tour had 11 people total and they were the nicest group to spend a day with. Stratford is where William Shakespeare was born, where he came back in his old age, and where he is buried. Really cute town.where he lived until 18 where he went to school. and where William Shakespeare is buried. *********Next we drove through a little area of the Cotswolds stopping at a couple villages. Seriously beautiful. But the scenery reminds me a lot of Oregon. The green hills, hay fields, sheep. We just don't have the gorgeous houses and gardens. **********We ended the day at Oxford. I'm seriously on beauty overload. I love English architecture. A little inspiration for C.S. Lewis' Narnia! Today was a thoroughly enjoyable day. ********Lesson learned: if your daughter says she understands when you tell her many times before the trip that there will be lots of pictures, she's just placating you. She will not get pictures of me, of her and me, and I have to be fast to get pictures of her in them. 😞

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Day 9 our new place

This morning Alicia got to sleep in a bit before we headed to the hotel breakfast, packed our bags up, and went to catch a black cab. We were a bit nervous about hailing our first cab but we walked out the hotel 5 steps to the edge of the sidewalk where I stuck my arm out to the oncoming cab and in less then 30 seconds we were on our way. So easy. We were moving on to the flat I had booked for the next 8 nights. There is something comforting about being able to unpack and relax in a place for a week. Alicia and I now have our own rooms and there is a kitchen and living room. This is the view out the dining room window.
We next headed out along the Thames to see Big Ben. Also saw the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Palace of Westminster, and some other pretty buildings. We grabbed a few groceries and headed back to our flat for the week. At dinner time I went looking for a place for some take-away where I found Tia Maria. I was hoping it was Italian but it was Brazilian and everything I brought home was disgusting. We were very unhappy with this choice. Hopefully that is the end of crappy food.************** Lesson learned: it was incredibly windy today and with all the construction in the area and trees, bits kept blowing into our eyes. We wish we had worn our sunglasses.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Day 8 *Harry Potter!

This was one of the days I was looking forward to most. We skipped breakfast and headed out at 8:30. Walked to Euston train station, bought day return tickets and jumped on our train to Watford Junction. About 25 minutes later we were catching a bus to Warner Brothers Harry Potter Tour. 30 minutes later we were having Starbucks, grabbed our reserved audio guides and started our journey through. Both Alicia and I enjoyed today immensely. So many beautiful sets, costumes, and props. Everything here is an actual part of the movie series. Not a duplicate. We spent about 4 hours here. Then we bussed to the train, trained back to the hotel and rested for a few hours. *******I rested a bit then at 6:30 I headed to the British Library without Alicia who was "knackered." The Library closes at 8 and online did not say that the main area closes at 6! So that was a bust. And I had been so excited! I then ran down the road to Nandos and grabbed take away for dinner. We gave it a 6 out of 10. But fun to try new places. I took some pictures of the train station we had arrived in London through.
St Pancras Station is gorgeous. ******We are watching some NCIS and then it is off to bed. *********Lesson learned: if you go to the hp studios in London each store along the way is different. As you are not allowed to go backwards if you see something you like buy it. You won't see it again later. I wish I had bought a tee I saw early on but figured I'd grab it later on. Oops.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Day 7 English!

Today we said goodbye to Paris and moved on to London. We were a little worried about how the Eurostar was going to work but it went smoothly. We were very lucky to have very friendly passport and customs people today. The Eurostar was very comfortable and time went quickly. We couldn't check in to our hotel so we dropped our luggage off and headed to the British Museum. I have been looking forward to this but when we got there the lines were insane. I had read there are never queues but there were massive school groups there. We gave up on that and just wandered around. Hung in Russell Square, a park, and shopped a bit.
Headed back to the hotel where we watched British tv. So far we are impressed with the shows. And always nice to watch new commercials! For dinner we found Pizza Express. It was one of the many gluten free options in the area. Yummy. We then grabbed some dessert to take back to our room where we are planning on watching the finals of The British Voice kids. Can't do much more today as things close early on Sundays. ***********Lesson Learned: Alicia has mentioned going to colleges in bigger cities before. But she's definitely realized she likes her small town. These big cities, and the mad amount of peple everywhere we go, intimidate her a little. Feeling good about Corban having a chance now.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day 6 the left bank

This morning I woke anxious to read my texts from Ben about his flight to Hawaii with Ethan and Drew. They arrived safely. ********We decided to skip breakfast and headed to the bus stop. Got there and there was no #84 which our apps said we should catch, so I ordered my first uber. We loved Notre Dame. We first checked the Cathedral out. Lots of beautiful stain glass windows, saints, candles. Incredible history.
Then we headed to the towers. Phew, that's a workout. 400 steps up spiral staircases. But it was a clear day and the views were super.
After the hike back down we headed to Shakespeare & Co. Such a fun bookstore with lots of history. If you've seen "Julie and Julia" or "Before Sunrise" or "Midnight in Paris" you would have seen this shop. They also stamp each book bought with their store stamp. Cute, cute place.
For lunch we headed to a crepe shop I had read great reviews on. It was down a charming little side street with a flower shop across the way. We both got a ham and cheese crepe and shared a mint crepe. Would like to be closer to this place. Yum. We did a little shopping and then grabbed another uber as we found out the bus we had wanted to catch this morning, also the one we wanted in the afternoon, is closed for July and August! Spent the rest of the day resting and packing for tomorrows move. We had a couple desserts from the gluten free bakery near by while watching the only English station -CNN.
Lesson learned: although I really liked our hotel I now would stay in the Latin Quarter if I ever returned. It had that French feel. Little streets everywhere with cafes and shopping. Our area has heavy car traffic and is more residential.