Winning London

I have quite a lot to talk about again, so here it goes:

Elizabeth and I went to London for MLK weekend (the great thing about living on a military base is that we get all American holidays off while the rest of Europe is still trucking along like normal).  We took the train on Friday to Nurnberg flughafen, hopped on a plane, and two games of M.A.S.H. and a couple sudoku puzzles later, we were in London!   We were pretty ecstatic from the moment we arrived (7:30 pm London time), and quickly bought Train and Tube tickets to Russell Square.  When we arrived on the Tube, the line to the lift was very long, so we thought we’d take the stairs. Quick tip: Never take the stairs when going up from an underground train.  There’s a reason the line to the lift is long, and when traveling an unfamiliar place, always go with the crowd. We climbed at least 10 flights straight up, luggage in hand. Brilliant!

We bought Saturday and Sunday day Tube tickets for zones 1 & 2 (plenty of ground to cover), and after wandering around for a bit, we found our hotel.  We packed in a TON of walking, photographing, seeing sights, seeing people, etc. on Saturday and Sunday, so I’m going to highlight my several favorite parts of the trip by listing the

Reasons why I loved London:

  • The Tube
    • German trains are easy to navigate, I suppose, but for some reason Elizabeth and I still struggle.  Perhaps it’s the language barrier, or maybe just my tendency to stress out way too much when I have to be a certain place at a certain time (thank you, Mom, for teaching me that being “on time” really means at least an hour early 🙂 ).  Anyway, the Tube was great, very easy to navigate, and we definitely got our money’s worth for those day tickets on Saturday and Sunday.  Again, get with it, America. Public transportation is the way to go.
  • Sunshine
    • Yes, unusual for London but lucky for us, I didn’t use my umbrella one time all weekend!  Quite a nice change from dreary Vilseck weather.  We not only had no rain, but we had SUN! Beautiful weather made the whole trip 10X more enjoyable.
  • Changing of the Guards
    • Saturday morning, Elizabeth and I made our way to Buckingham Palace where there were crowds and crowds of people.  After the lift incident, we figured we’d better join the crowd because it must be something important.  Somehow we ended up right at the front of one of the gates, where we stood clueless for about 15 minutes.  Finally, we overheard Constable Steve (a solid man who took his job Very Seriously) telling someone what everyone was waiting for: the changing of the guards! What a thing to stumble upon.  We stayed put, and while it felt much like the Girl Talk concert circa 2008 (although this time it was pushy, whiney Germans I wasn’t letting in front of me instead of sweaty teenage girls), it was well worth the wait.  First came the bagpipers in one cluster, then the guards (fluffy hats [what’s the name for those things again? “fluffy guard hats” isn’t yielding anything promising on Google, unsurprisingly] and rifles and everything!), then finally the band led by a guard and a dog! Very interesting and traditional show of sorts.  Unfortunately we didn’t see Willy or Harry, which is probably a good thing because I might have fainted.
  • Piccadilly Circus
    • Piccadilly Circus is like Times Square, but less claustrophobic and much cuter.  We went here Saturday night, and it was crazy fun.  Another thing I loved about London is that everything is open late– in Germany most places close at 6 or 7 (except for restaurants), but Piccadilly Circus was hopping in the p.m.
  • Tower Bridge
    • God, so beautiful.  The architecture and history of it all makes me want to move here! Pictures below.
  • Kensington Gardens
    • This was my absolute FAVORITE part of London.  This was the first place we went Sunday morning and it really started my day off right.  The park is huge and just absolutely beautiful.  There were people everywhere, but mostly locals (running or walking or just hanging out with their families), and even a toy sail boat race (like in Stuart Little!).  It seemed unreal, and it’s definitely the image I’ll think of now when someone mentions London.  We saw and posed several times with the famous Peter Pan statue, and heard a little boy say, in an English accent of course, “Mum! Pee-tuh Pahn!”  Which brings me to my next point:
  • Men & Toddlers (separately)
    • For some reason, both of these things are cuter in London.  Accents definitely play a big role in the kids being so cute, and for some reason all of the men (seriously, all of them) seemed more attractive than American & German men.  London makes ’em tall and thin, wearing scarves and pea coats with elbow patches.  That’s all I have to say about that.
  • A boatload of other things…
    • We saw a million things in London, so check my Facebook for all the photos, would ya? It would be the longest entry in the world if I wrote about everything we did.

I loved London, this is true, but I also want to talk about

Reasons I am happy to be back in Deutschland:

  • The Exchange Rate
    • Holy Macaroni.  Elizabeth and I thought living in a country with Euros was bad… whew! Right now, the exchange rate for pounds vs. dollars is 0.652416. Pitiful!  That is one pound = 1.53 American dollars.  Elizabeth and I were extremely frugal in our spending (I bought postcards [SEND ME YOUR ADDRESSES PLEASE! For real!] and some 99 pence tea bags.  It was harder to find inexpensive food, so we ended up eating the continental breakfast every morning (killer!), skipping lunch, then eating at a pub for dinner.  Soups were pretty cheap, so that’s what we mostly ate.
      • Sidenote:  We kept seeing “jacket potatoes” as an option on all of the menus.  Finally, on Saturday night at the pub we ate at, we asked the bartender what they are.
        • “Heh, heh, Are you serious? You’re serious?”
        • “Umm, yes?”
        • “Do you know what a potato is?”
        • Ugh. “Yes.”
        • “It’s a big one, with stuff in it. Like cheese, beans, you know.”
        • “Oh.”
        • Still standing there, laughing at us. “I guess it’s an English thing, heh heh heh…”
      • So, I ordered a jacket potato.  It was delicious! Worth feeling stupid for asking, definitely.
  • Helles and Radlers
    • Oh, how we missed the giant cheap beer.  The cheapest beer we found in London was about £4.00, which is really like $8.00 to us.  Not so fun, especially when it’s not as good as Germany’s finest.
  • The Feeling of Community
    • More than once in London I thought to myself, “I wish we could just go sit at the end of that table over there and eat our meal with those people.”  I love the feeling of community in Germany.  London was so active and fast-paced, which was a great change from the day-to-day here, but coming back to Germany I felt relaxed.  (Well, once we ran through Gatwick and finally found our terminal, I felt relaxed).  I feel like Germany is more my pace, too, at least for my every-day.  We went to Harrod’s in London which was totally foreign to me (giant, giant, giant, GIANT shopping place with everything you can imagine, all very expensive–all name brand! Lots of very rich people [wearing lots of fur] perusing the racks of pricey clothes.  We saw a newborn baby sweater for £250.00 [so, like, $400.00] which sort of grossed me out. It’s hard to believe people spend mass amounts of money on things like that like it’s normal).  I realize there are places like that everywhere in the world, though little Vilseck sure is far away from them.

So, had a wonderful time in London Town, but am definitely still excited to be living in Germany, too.  Our flight from Gatwick was at 8:05am this morning, so we had to be at the Russell Square Tube when it opened at 5:00am (we had to go from there to King’s Cross/St. Pancras, then take the train from St. Pancras to Gatwick, check in, go through security, find our gate, etc.).  We woke up at what we though was 4:40am, got ready, packed up everything, and then glanced at our watches.  Elizabeth miscalculated the time difference, so it was only 2:40am!  Haha, we were all up and ready to go two hours early (and the weird part is, I didn’t feel tired at all. ?). We went back to bed and got up at the right time, and it was kind of a rush to get to the airport on time.  I was stressin’, but luckily Elizabeth held her cool and we arrived before everyone boarded.  Note to Future Self: Always take out the baggy full of liquids in your carry-on when going through security (even if they didn’t check it on the way out of Germany) or they will unpack your whole suitcase in front of everyone and check for radioactive materials. Lesson learned.

Oh, ALSO, Elizabeth and I were asked for directions twice in London! And we gave directions both times!  We must really look like high-fashion Londoners.  Either that, or they just didn’t catch us taking pictures of literally everything we saw.

Alright, some pictures are below, but check my Facebook for the rest of them.  So many, and it takes forever to upload them to the bloggo. Enjoy!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Winning London

  1. I’m glad your title is paying tribute to Mary-Kate and Ashley’s fabulous 2001 straight-to-VHS movie haha

  2. Betsy K

    ahhhh I loved this! sounds like such a good weekend. and I agree–the men in London are freaking hot!!!

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