Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 2nd: Mission Accomplished

Mark and I got up fairly early the next morning, too. More sleep would have been nice, but we had to fly back to the US in the afternoon so we wanted to make the most of the little bit of time we had left in London.

I tried something different for breakfast; it was a poached egg (I think) with spinach and hollandaise sauce on an english muffin. It was really good. Mark had the French toast again (and to Mark's amusement, so did the French lady from the day before).

The dining room in the hotel. The whole building was decorated like this; it looked really cool. You can just see the tables at the bottom of the picture; instead of normal wooden chairs at the tables, most of them had comfy armchairs. I told Mark we should get some lights like that for our house.

After breakfast we went back to the room, finished packing while we watched some sort of fitness class going on in the park outside ('why are people swim-running in the park?' Mark asked at one point), then made our way downstairs and checked out. The hotel was really nice...I'd definitely like to stay there again sometime!

We had a whole list of things we wanted to try to see in the morning, but things started getting dropped from the list pretty fast because almost immediately we ran into problems getting on the Tube. The station closest to the hotel was essentially closed because of some sort of problem on the Northern line, so we walked to the next station further north. It was about ten minutes away, and by the time we got there, it was also closed. We decided to try to take a bus to a different Tube station to catch a different line, but every single bus going to that station was so ridiculously full that you couldn't even squeeze past the doors to get on, let alone cram our bags in there, too. We finally gave up and walked about fifteen minutes or so further along to a different station and caught the Tube to our first stop for the day.

We saw this monument down a side street and stopped to check it out. Turns out it's a monument commemorating the Great London Fire of 1666 and was built in the 1670's. According to the plaque on the bottom, the fire burned for three days, consumed more than 13,000 houses, and burned through 436 acres of the city.

I thought the street off to the side of the monument looked neat, too. 

We walked a little further down the street and reached the London Bridge. It had a great view of the Shard...

...and the Tower Bridge in the distance. 

We really lucked out again with the weather!

After checking out the view for a few minutes we turned around, got back on the Tube, and went over to Notting Hill. It was a really pretty area and there were all sorts of cool little shops; I'm definitely going back there the next time we're in London. I quickly did some damage to my wallet in a tiny dress shop (so much for having extra space left in my bag), then we walked a bit further down to a cool store that we had seen on TV: the Portobello Print and Map Shop. They sell vintage maps and prints - not reproductions, but the real things - and had some really amazing stuff. Everything comes matted and ready for framing, and the older maps come with certificates of authenticity. We spent a while flipping through all of the maps and prints; I eventually picked out a few prints from an old nature book. They had been hand colored; two of them were of some sort of leopard and had the most ridiculous looks on their faces, which is mostly why I bought them...they cracked me up. We also bought this:

It's a hand colored map from 1694 and shows California as an island. That was apparently not an unusual mistake that mapmakers made back then. I like how it just fades into nothing up to the north.  :)

We eventually finished wandering around and made our way back to the Tube and over to Paddington Station. It would have been awesome to spend more time in London, but it was time to head back to the US.

We at least had time to grab lunch at Paddington - a pasty and some mango lemonade. I don't know what it is about European train stations, but I've had some great food from random little food stands in a few of them now. The pasty tasted almost exactly like the ones my mom used to make. We finished our food just in time to catch the next train to Heathrow, checked in and made it through security, and started to wander toward the gate.

There were hardly any people in this one section. It kind of looked like a set from a movie.

Mark and I still had some time before our flight boarded, so we wandered through the duty free store. Turns out they were offering whiskey and scotch tastings, so that helped kill some time. Mark hemmed and hawed a bit and eventually bought himself a bottle to bring home. 

We eventually boarded the flight (a Boeing first time on one of those. They are HUGE! Like, 9 seats across huge) and taxied out. There was an A380 off to the side behind a couple other planes. I still want to fly in one of those someday. We wound up in a big jumbly mess of other planes all pointed at each other on the taxiways and I figured we'd be sitting on the ground forever, but the mess seemed to sort itself out fairly quickly and we were off the ground in a few minutes.

Bye, England...I'll see you again someday!

I spent most of the flight back watching movies and inhaling any food they put anywhere near me. Lunch was really good...some sort of chicken curry. I like when they actually feed you on flights.   :)

We made it to Dulles just fine after getting routed a bit out of the way around some storms. Start to finish we had a really good trip, and while it would have been nice to stay longer I think we did really well for the short amount of time we had in London. If anything, I thought the trip was appropriately silly, considering we basically flew to London just to see Monty seemed fitting that a ridiculous show should be the purpose behind a ridiculous trip. And we may have set a new bar for ourselves for ridiculous trips...we didn't use a single minute of leave, made it to London, had a very nice weekend, and made it in to our evening shifts on Thursday on time. Perfect.   :)

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