A Travellerspoint blog

Everything London! Just a little later than planned.

This morning we woke up and made another wonderful breakfast of bananas, yogurt, English muffins, some British tea and orange juice. We watched the morning BBC news, took a quick shower and then we were out the door. We had a very busy day ahead of us!

We had planned to leave our apartment quite early to get into Westminster Abbey when it opened at 9:30 a.m. Since our travel cards were off-peak cards, we "hired" or rented Barclay bikes to bike to the city. It was only a 20 minute ride into Parliament Square. We had a little bit of trouble getting the bikes out because we did not have a rental card, but after some struggle we finally figured it out. We asked the lady inside our building but she did not know until Laura found out you not only rent the bikes but the time spent on the bikes as well. Josh and I navigated the streets, always staying on the left, crossed the river Thames, and made it to Westminster Abbey. Once there, we went to the nearest bike drop off, but much to our dismay, there were no spaces available. We entered in our bike information and got 15 minutes added to our used time and went to the next drop-off point. After visiting 2 points, we finally found one with 1 free spot. We put Josh's bike in the free spot and Laura set off to find a spot for her bike. With no cell service it was a little worrisome, but we planned to meet up at Big Ben. Josh walked back toward Big Ben alone and stood outside took some pictures and hung out by the police there while Laura cycled through the borough of Westminster searching for a drop-off point. After visiting 4 of them, she finally found a free one in front of a group of townhouses. Our conclusion? On a Monday morning, the citizens of London leave their homes and bike into the cities for their jobs; thus the ones near the abbey and in the main city were full. Laura returned and bike and briskly walked to meet Josh, who was slightly worried. Josh had set his alarm for thirty minutes before he was going to head out to find Laura but she made it back pretty quickly. We then went to Westminster Abbey. Although our London Passes said the site was a fast pass entry, this was false. We had to get in line with everyone else... Bummer. But, the line went quickly and we were able to easily grab our free audio tour handsets. While there are no photos allowed, inside the Abbey was gorgeous and grandiose. You were also not allowed to walk on the unknown soldiers grave which is gated off. Throughout the Abbey there are graves along the ground where famous and influential people are buried. For those who chose not to be buried there, such as Shakespeare, there are commemorating marble statues. In poets corner are several famous poets includes Lewis Carroll and TS Elliott. Isaac Newton also is buried there. Handel has a rather large section commemorating his life. He is buried there as well. Many kings and queens also have large burial areas within the Abbey. They date back all the way to the 1200s. While walking around they observed a moment of silence to reflect and pray. In one of the areas of the abbey, there is a whole in the wall, that was later filled with glass, where a world war bomb went off. Also, Oliver Cromwell, who led the civil war against the monarchy was buried there, but after the monarchy got back into power, they dug him up, hung his dead body and chopped off his head.... Gross! We saw a room where the monks who would have lived in the abbey would have lived. After visiting the Abbey museum and gift shop, we left and it was drizzling rather hard (we would expect nothing else from London). While we were hoping to do a river cruise ride on a nice and sunny day to see a different view of the city, we decided to still move forward with our plans. On the cruise there was an upper and lower deck. The lower deck features cushioned chairs and a bar/eatery. Josh and I purchased a coke and ice cream bar made with a hard chocolate shell, ice cream, and cookie dough. After finishing our snack, we went to the upper deck and braved the misting rain to see the sites. The river cruise featured a wonderful guided tour. Along the way we passed: Big Ben, London eye, the globe, HMS Belfast and even one of the oldest bars in London (The Anchor) where Shakespeare and his actors used to come. After a 30 minute cruise, we arrived at London Bridge, where we headed to the Tower of London. Our tour guide on the cruise requested a tip as we excited for beer money that he proudly announced. While it was rainy we walked along the wall of the tower into the exhibits where we learned about how the tower housed royalty, prisoners, the Crown Jewels and even at one point wild animals. One interesting fact was that six ravens were kept at the tower and they will said to be good luck. Even today, the tower keeps them ( and even an extra just in case). The Crown Jewels were awesome. There was about a 15-20 minute queue and once inside you could not take pictures. The Crown Jewels have faced many trials and tribulations. In the 1600s they were destroyed. Then, they were nearly stolen and destroyed in a fire. One neat thing about the Crown Jewels is kings and queens that follow will take parts of their predecessors and use it on theirs. We saw the towers that archers would use to defend the castle, a gate that lead into the water called traitors gate, and warning the two ravens they have bite!

After the Tower of London we went up into the tower bridge and learned about its history, steam engine rooms and got gorgeous views of the city. First we went up in the bridge which has a walkway way above the bridge below that mentioned other famous bridges and also had short movies on how the bridge was decided upon and also how it was made. They also had a themed room all about famous British people of the 60's. We took a elevator back down the London bridge and then visited the steam room with giant movie parts for generating the steam used for lifting up the bridge to allow large ships through.

We wanted to try to go to the Globe for a tour and walked along the river Thames to get there. We were also extremely hungry, we had wanted to eat at this restaurant called the anchor. We walked by on the way to the globe and it was a very expensive restaurant. When we finally got there we found out tours were closed for the day because there was a performance. We got to view the exhibit about the globe but did not go inside. One interesting thing about the building is the globe burnt down and what was rebuilt was a replica. Shows are still regularly performed though. 
We then grabbed a bite to eat at a shop called EAT. We both got steak with red wine meat pies there. Laura got mash potatoes and gravy with hers. They were delicious! Definitely a break that was needed. 
After, we headed to Abbey road where we first stopped at Wafflemeister. We got a "cream and cookies" waffle to share which was delicious. While on our way to abbey road Laura was stopped by another local asking if we knew where a particular road was!? We must look like we are locals.
Then we walked for a while (which we later found out we could have taken the metro) to Abbey road where we took the traditional Beatles picture. There were already people there and it was rush hour but that did not stop us from getting some amazing pictures and video. We then signed Josh and his dad's name on the wall of Abbey road Studio. 
From there we traveled home for a much needed break our legs were tired after a long day of walking.
After taking a break, we headed out to the arcade near the London Eye. We went to this Namco arcade that had a large number of games there! Since we had the London pass we were given 3 token each which allowed us to play three games! We played a race car game, a motor cycle game, and another racing game all for free which was fun! We had hoped to also go ice skating, but we ran out of time. Instead, we stopped by a shop and got some wine and strawberry soda. We got back to the room and decided to have some pasta, we had wine and the cheese we had gotten a few days before,too. 

Posted by travelspark 14:59 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Day 2

Today Laura and I woke up super early. We took a shower and made some breakfast! We hung out watched some tv and have some bananas that's the airbnb people left for us and also English muffins which had no nooks and crannies and also I had tea with milk in it, this is probably the second time I ever had tea with milk in it! So after a bit we got dressed and laid out our plan on how to get to the bus stop. I left my jacket back at the room when we went down to the lobby and ran back up to grab it really quick. Since the room was so hot since we don't have a/c I didn't realize how cold it was outside! 50ish degrees F. So I locked up and ran back down and let Laura. We ran across the street which btw they have these cross walks that say LOOK RIGHT or LOOK LEFT and little WAIT buttons as well when you are trying to cross. Also side note their traffic lights go GREEN YELLOW RED THEN RED YELLOW GREEN. Hah weird. Then we realized we were at the wrong bus stop and needed to run back across the road and then down the road. Only had to wait just a moment for our bus the 171. Walked in on the bus and me and Laura didn't know what to show the guy to let him know we can travel for free. (Since we have the London pass with travel) so we just saved our pass then went upstairs on the double decker red bus. Up there we were with a bunch of inner city people but honestly their most bad person is still courteous sounding! Definitely not a threat. We pushed the stop button and went down and got off at our drop off point and still needed to walk a bit to the bicycle location. We ran across the road and started walking up this long road but then I thought to check my gps and it said to go the reverse way. Laura was not happy definitely didn't know where we were going but had a rough idea. Walked for a bit and talked and right as we were going to look where to go next we found the place. The place was a small opening with a few shops on either side and a ton of bicycles and also lite restaurants. We walked into the bike shop. The guy there asked us if we were ready for the London bike tour cause it was three hours long. I made a joke well as long as we are not lost at sea! The guy definitely did not get the Gillian island reference :-/. We got purple bracelets and were told to meet back in 30 minutes. We walked along the water and found a nice little beach with a beach bum that charged a £ to take a picture and also had games where you can throw a coin down and win prizes. We walked for a bit and saw these stainless steel plaques that showed your view and told you what all buildings you were looking at which was pretty neat! After a few we headed back to the bicycle clearing and sat down on some hand carved wooden furniture that was outside.
After a bit we saw other tour guides come out and then leave. Finally our tour guide came out and said hello. His name was Daniel. He was a funny man and he knew a ton about Britain and even agreed that some of their old rules and traditions were crazy but fun and why not. We got all together and started our bike tour. They asked if we wanted helmets but me and laura said no. Right away one of the other guys in the tour group popped a wheelie which was definitely impressive. We stayed together and the guide said he would have to tell us to stay on the left a bunch and to keep together. Also if you got lost to stop there, someone will remember you are gone, and he will go back and find you. Anyway we bike right by the London eye and realize currently it is the 4th tallest Ferris wheel, that actually USA in Vegas has the tallest. It is however he tallest single spoke Ferris wheel. Also when it opened in 2000 apparently it worked for 45 minutes and then broke down.
We also looked at some of the local buildings near by like the 'cheese grater' and the 'walkie talkie' building. We also saw a bridge built in World War Two mainly by women. We saw the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Commons you can be elected into. The House of Lords is old rich men who inherited their job. The queen is not allowed in the House of Commons. Also they have crazy rules where a man goes to the House of Commons and they lock him out then he has to knock and hey invite him in. Also so each house has its own bridge as well. House of Commons is yellow and House of Lords is red. We then went to the changing of the guard. Laura asked that I take a photo of this princess Diana emblem on the ground so I did. Next we stopped off and waited for a bit. We saw two guards slat a gate off to the side. The guards it turns out are real military men, they usually do guard duty for a year. Hey had real guns with real knives on the end. We saw a police car with a dog inside. Everyone same up and took photos with the dog. Definitely more of a tourist attraction than anything else. Finally we hear all these instruments down the road start coming our way. The guide reminded us that if you wanted to be told off by a policeman then you should stand in the road because the guards were coming. Also mind you the road is red because they queen comes home on this road and needed it to be her red carpet. Also we learned that when the Union Jack is flying over these palaces that means they are not there and usually tours are done. If the royal flag is flying then that means that the royal family is there currently. The police came down the road on horseback and asked everyone to move back. Then came the guards marching followed by guards playing the flute and drums.
We met a girl from Brazil who turned out had the exact same camera as Laura's so she took our photo a bunch which was super nice. We then biked off and went by a school that cost 30,000£ a year which is like 60,000$ and this is for high school. Also girls can't go to this school till they are 16 which is kinda crazy. We saw where William Wallace was hung drawn and quartered. Also I didn't realize what all that meant until now. Hung is where they hang you enough to make you pass out. They then wake you up, drawn a line on your stomach and cut you open. When they do it doesn't hit any major organs so you don't die. They then pull out all your intestines which you can live without for 10hours. Then they strap your arms and legs to horses and scare the horses to pull you apart. They take your parts and send them to the four corners of London. They then behead you, stick you on a spike and put your head by the London bridge for all to see. They did this to all traitors of the crown. After this we went to trafallgar square. Here they have the four lions and also they have a giant blue rooster. There are these four pedistals. One one is a giant blue rooster because every 18 months they change out some art. This last piece was by a feminist from Germany who won to put her art there. She did a giant blue rooster because blue is male, roosters are male, also the British people call it a cock. Anyway the headlines all read they erected a giant blue cock in the courtyard. Hilarious. After this we went to a few other spots and came back to the original meeting point. We even got beeped at by a car in a round about. We went to smithfields meat market where on certain days companies come there to sell their meats. I talked to some of the other people and one family was from New York. They had gone to Sweden and said the people there were very calculating, serious, and exact. After we got back we were hungry so went to this little multi story pub by the water. On our walk there we saw a ton of people starting to crowd around this vending cart that was giving away free beer. We had some it was fosters with clouded lemon. It tasted really good it tasted like orgina drink. We got to this restaurant and we got seated and got some waters and also some brie and toast, also we split a plate of roast leg of lamb and potatoes and bread and carrots. It was really good though service was a little slow. We left and decided we wanted to see the royal mews and the best way to do that was the underground. We walked across a bridge took some photos and then went into the underground. This got us really close to the news but we noticed on the way out that Laura's travel pass no longer was working?? We weren't sure what happened but shrugged it off.
Also wanted to note we went on the bike tour also to Westminster Abby. Which that was really neat you couldn't take photos inside but I took a few ;D. Also huge front door. Apparently in world war 2 the Germans dropped a bomb that fell right into the Abby but didn't explode! Then some people had to take it out of the abbey to a field and explode it which made a thirty meter wide crater!
Anyway we made it to the royal mews which turns out is all the royal stage coaches. We go inside and they hand you a tour guide device and headphones. We see the glass coach which is not all glass at all. We saw the Scottish coach and many others. Apparently they had a few cars there as well which queen Victoria was not a fan of. The final coach was made of gold and wood. It was huge and cost 7000£ back a hundred years ago which was a ton of money! Also they said it weighed many tons and couldn't support its own weight. It needed 8 horses to pull it at a walking pace. After we left there we decided we should go see a building named after price Albert which turns out we were too late for. So we took a leisurely stroll through a park where the Peter Pan statue is and walked along the water. We took a photo by the Prince Albert building and it was really impressive! We also walked to harrods where while we were trying to cross the street we saw a ton of young boys ranging from 10-5 years old running a muck through the streets. No parents they were definitely street kids, but they were dressed nice and had proper haircuts but it was funny to see these kids running about. We the. Wanted to go to another royal building to see all of this old queen Victoria stuff and her wardrobe etc. these kids followed us onto the underground by jumping the entrance and exit gates. I kept a eye on them to make sure they didn't pick pocket us!! We made it to this royal house where many of the royals from a long time ago grew up. We were almost too late! Walked around and visited the Kings chambers which were extravagant, the queens chambers which were less extravagant. We saw neat optical illusions where a image was cut to certain levels and the way you looked made a three d image. It's funny to see these old paintings of royalty only to realize you have friends that look like them. We saw old queen Victoria as a child drawings and dolls that she had made by hand. Finally worn out we left and walked through a garden where I found a £ on the ground!! :-) then we hopped on the underground and went to liecaster square to get some food. There is a ton of places to eat but we didn't want to spend a ton so we went to a less expensive bar and restaurant. Wierd part was when you wanted to order you had to go up to the bar, say your table number and then your order. We ran outta £s so we had to use credit card. We got a bacon cheese burger and also fries and garlic cheese bread! It was really filling, they also had some crazy bottle called HB Sauce. On the back it said 'brown sauce'?! We gave it a try, turns out it tastes like if you mixed ketchup and vinegar together which is not bad with fries! After eating there we decided to take the underground back to our apartment. Laura said her lips hurt so we stopped off at a tourist shop. They didn't have any lip balm, but they did have the boxers Laura had bought of the underground many years ago. We walked down some stairs to the underground and found a little shop where we bought some generic Chapstick. We rode many trains back and made it back to the room. Our feet exhausted, our faces a little red from sunburn. We decided to take a bath. I drew the bath and put all of the soothing things we had into the water. The bath it was well deserved. After the bath we watched the movie neighbors with Seth rogan! It was very funny! I used my battery backup and my flash drive to watch it. After the movie we decided to write up a blog and Laura plan tomorrow! Now that it is 12:47am I must run! Goodnight all!
From London with love!
-Josh and Laura

Posted by travelspark 16:50 Comments (0)

Made it to London!

We have arrived in London and walking around the beautiful city, we were able to stop in at a local English pub and get some fish and chips for lunch! We stopped by many local stores and crafts fair locations, we saw Big Ben, the London eye, we saw they had a festival set up in London to resemble Coney Island! Neat to see the people of London out and about. We got some cotton candy and walked by the London eye. We walked across the mellinium bridge got lost but found our way to a vintage British car show. Walking to our hotel we stopped off at this huge building with a art gallery on he first floor and asked directions. Turns out this building was our apartment on the 20th floor!

Laura and I took a nap then went out on the town for some brick oven pizza we got at a local shop.
One thing I will say is that everything is expensive in the UK. Something that is 10£ is really like 19$ but all in all it's all been worth it.
Got back to our place watched some tv. Though what's funny is most tv stations said goodnight we will be back on at 7:00 am. Or things like that. Most shows too were American shows though not a comedy to be found on any channel, we watched some of the movie 2012 ;D

Much fun and we will post more soon!
-Josh and Laura

Posted by travelspark 01:00 Comments (0)

We made it to the airport!

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IMG_1831.jpg It's 6:39 pm EST and we have made it to the airport thanks to Deborah and Ken Sabel. Security was completely empty and so far there are very few people at the airport! Excited to head out in a few hours, nervous that we may have forgotten something. So far just our itinerary which we will download from our home computer. We have said our goodbyes to our familys and belle and felix. London here we come!
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Posted by travelspark 17:52 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Bringing Shoes that Fit!

How to stretch Crocs!

overcast 80 °F

When planning for the trip I wanted to find a cute flat that matched all of my outfits, was comfortable and came in a size 11. (Little did I know that was a near to impossible feat!). What I found was a Crocs Kadee ballet flat in black with excellent reviews on comfort and durability. It seemed perfect, came in size 11 and was shipped to my house the next day.
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When I first got the shoes, they seemed a little tight, but I had read that Crocs naturally stretch. After a day of painfully wearing them to work, I found out they didn't stretch as quickly as I would have liked. After a little bit of internet searching, I found a solution.

How to Stretch Crocs!

Step 1: Grab Your Crocs
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Step 2: Find a fuzzy pair of socks
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Step 3: Put the Crocs in the dryer on Medium for 3 minutes.
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Step 4: Pull them out immediately after 3 minutes and put them on!
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Results... they were too big!

So back to the dryer they went! I put them in for 2 minutes on Medium and pulled them out, putting the shoes on with no socks. Surprisingly, they had already shrunk after 2 minutes. With some gentle pulling and walking around, my Crocs now fit!

Success!

Posted by travelspark 15:11 Archived in USA Tagged shoes packing_list crocs Comments (0)

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