August 18, 2014

There's No Place Like London: Part 1

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I've never been accused of being "succinct" or a "woman of few words." I tend to over explain things, and have a habit of rambling. 
These faults, I am aware of. 
All of my blog posts are too long. 
This, I am also aware of.
So when I take the trip of a lifetime, you better believe that the posts are going to blow all of the other ones out of the water as far as verbosity is concerned. 
These posts will be long and there will be several. 
You have been warned. 
Feel free to scroll through the words and just look at the pictures. I won't be offended (okay...maybe a little bit). was my trip, and I can be wordy if I want to, right?
So. Here it goes...

London 7.16.14
After a 10.5 hour flight, some grocery shopping, dinner, and of course, dessert, the boy and I fell asleep pretty early. The next morning we hopped out of bed bright and early to enjoy our first day in London (Okay...I hopped. Graham's exit out of the bed was more of a roll accompanied by a groan). 
On the agenda?
Buckingham Palace
Westminster Abbey
The Churchill War Rooms
Trafalgar Square
A Traditional English Pub
The Houses of Parliament/Big Ben
I know, I know. An insanely long list for one day! But we only had five nights in London, and I was determined to fit it all in! And lucky for me, we did. We were able to walk to all of our destinations from where we were staying in Westminster (Pimlico to be exact), and saw a nice chunk of the city while we were at it. By the end of the day, I had a very grumpy husband, but I was one happy girl! 

Buckingham Palace:
The changing of the guards. A daily ritual full of pomp and circumstance that is a London tourist "must see." My husband had very few requests on the trip, and this was one of them. But, if I'm completely honest, both of us were a bit unimpressed. Not the best start to our first day in London. It was hot, crowded, and a bit underwhelming, to say the least. Despite our lack of enthusiasm, however, I will say that this was one thing we both LOVED about London: all of the old traditions and ceremonies that are still very much a part of the culture. 

Westminster Abbey:
I When you live in a place like San Diego, where the oldest buildings aren't more than 150 years old, a structure like Westminster Abbey is absolutely mind-boggling. Began in the 11th century, and rebuilt in the 13th century in the popular gothic style, it is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. Every coronation since 1066 has taken place in Westminster Abbey, and the place is literally vibrating with history. London has a very strict "no photography" policy in all of their churches, so I wasn't able to take any photos inside. should google it. Seriously. Do it.

The Churchill War Rooms:
If you're a WWII nerd and are heading to London anytime soon, go here. It was so well done, so informative and really neat too! During the Blitz of London, all of the core government functions and staff, including Winston Churchill himself, went underground into this amazingly well-preserved bunker. When the war ended, they closed it off, and it stayed sealed until it was opened as a museum in the 80's. So, some of the rooms look exactly as they did when the war ended in 1945. Pretty cool, huh?

Trafalgar Square:
The center of London, and worth the stop if you're in the neighborhood. London is the most fast-paced city I have ever been to, and Trafalgar Square is the best place to just sit and watch the city swirl around you.

A Traditional English Pub:
I ordered a meat pie, and the boy? Fish and chips. He was in heaven.

The Houses of Parliament/Big Ben
We ended our day with a stroll through Westminster, and found ourselves at the bridge overlooking The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye. The sun didn't set until after 10 pm every night we were there, but once it did, the city lit up. And it was a beautiful sight to behold.

London 7.17.14
Let me tell you. Jet lag sucks. After our full, first day in London, you would think that we just fell into bed and slept like zombies, right? Wrong. We fell asleep fine, but then at 3:30 in the morning, both the boy and I woke up, and were WIDE AWAKE. For TWO hours. Which sucked, because we had a tour scheduled for 7 am the next morning. I think I sailed through that day on excitement alone, because I don't know how else I was able to survive...
On the agenda?

Another official residence of the queen, and some say, her favorite! Construction of Windsor began in the 11th century under the Norman King, William the Conqueror, and is said to be the oldest and longest inhabited castle in the world. It was absolutely massive, and probably one of Graham's favorite sites in Europe. 

When people ask me, "okay...if you had to pick, what was your favorite part of the trip," my answer is, without pause, "Bath." I felt like I was swept back in time to the Georgian era, and I loved every second of it. If I have one regret from our trip it is that we didn't spend more time in Bath. An ancient Roman city that derived its name from the Roman "baths" found there, it is brimming with delightful little bits of history! I loved that the hot springs that fed the baths thousands of years ago are still alive and well today. They tell you not to touch the water...but I did anyway. I know, I'm a rebel. And at the end of the tour, they even let you drink it (after being purified, of course). Bath, the ENTIRE city of Bath mind you, is a protected World Heritage site, and the facades of the buildings are not allowed to be altered in any way. Hence the feeling of being a time traveler. Can you tell I enjoyed myself??

The most ancient site we visited while in London, and you could tell! The "vibe" of Stonehenge is an interesting one. I know it may sound cheesy, but the place just "feels" old. Something in the ground, I suppose. Stonehenge is not a "druid" structure, as many people mistakenly believe. The time frames just don't match up. Construction on Stonehenge began in 3000 BC, and continued for over a thousand years afterward. Historians and archeologists believe that Stonehenge was built by ancient "Beaker" farmers based on the burial monuments that pepper the area. We loved our visit to Stonehenge, but I do wish that we could have touched the stones! Although I do realize why they have closed the stones off to visitors in recent years...there's a lot of traffic that passes through there and it is important to keep it as well preserved as possible. Maybe next time we go, we'll fork over the big bucks and go on one of the limited tours that allows you to go inside the circle itself.

Our first two days in London were probably our busiest of the trip, but oh so fun! Stay tuned for the next segment (if you haven't lost interest already)...there's plenty more to come! 
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  1. Hi Whitney! I have a few questions for you and hopefully you won't mind answering them. I sent you a PM on Facebook but then realized that since we're not friends, my message was probably sent to your "other" folder which can only be accessed on the full Facebook website. Please, please, please check your folder when you get a chance.

    1. Hi Carina! I answered all of your questions on Facebook! Hope it helps!

  2. So happy to read your first two days! I'm now getting excited for my trip!! BTW you look gorgeous in all your pics 😘



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