Sunday, June 19, 2016

England/France Trip: Part 3

On my prior trip to London, I went to Buckingham Palace and watched the Changing of the Guards. So Buckingham wasn't high on my wish list for this trip.  But Adam wanted to see it, so at the beginning of the day, we decided to head to the Palace. 

There was a lot of hullabaloo going on, and we were surprised to learn that it was the opening day of Parliament, and soon the Queen would be headed out to open the session. We decided we simply must stay to see the Queen.

There was so much pomp and circumstance as we waited for the Queen's Arrival. The beef-eaters lined up, and there were so many horses. A kind police officer spent the better part of a half-hour telling us about the ceremony and the history of Buckingham. His love for his country was infectious. 

The band started playing God Save the Queen, as she rolled by in her carriage! Oh, how I wish I had my zoom lens that day! But it was the most magical moment of the trip. I can't believe we saw the Queen! I could make out her little hat, hair, and purple suit. She looks great for her age!

After our brief visit with the Queen, we hopped on the tube for our date with the grand Tower of London. One of the main reasons for me wanting to return to London, was that I did not visit the tower on my first trip, and I was dying to go. I am just that nerdy. And we probably spent 3 hours wandering the tower on this gloomy,  rainy day.  

We marveled over the crown jewels, minus the crown, which was missing because we had seen it on the Queen's head an hour earlier. 

We loved wandering the rooms and the narrow staircases. I couldn't help but think of one of my favorite books growing up, Tower of Terror by R.L. Stine, which was loosely based on the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower.

One of my major interests in the Tower, of course related to Tudor History. So to see the monument that was placed at the sight where some of the most famous Tudors lost their heads (Lady Jane Grey, Anne Boleyn, and Katherine Howard) was somewhat overwhelming to me. I also saw King Henry VIII's armor, and the traitors gate, where it is rumored Anne Boleyn entered the tower to live out the last days of her life. 

Can we discuss for a moment how much I love the tube in London? It is so easy, so reliable, and so convenient. After our trip to the tower, we went back to the room to relax a while before our next event, which was the Jack the Ripper Walking tour. Something I was massively looking forward to. But unfortunately, this was the first time the tube wasn't reliable. As the train stalled for 15 minutes, making us too late to make the tour. I was DEVASTATED. I may have cried on a street corner in White Chapel for five miserable minutes.  

But I got my act together, and I refused to let that one missed opportunity ruin my trip. I can always go back (I hope). So instead we wandered around White Chapel a bit, and grabbed dinner at a "pie shop." I got a lamb pie, with a picture of the poor lamb right on the pastry! Then we caught the tube back to the hotel, which was once again, totally reliable. 

The tube never was unreliable again. 

Click here to follow this blog on bloglovin and keep up with all my posts!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend & The Cotton Row 10k

The week that we got back from Europe was one tough entrance back into reality. On the way home from the airport, our car started shaking and the check engine light came on. We had to replace some ignition cords, which cost a lot of money and was one big inconvenience. I was dog tired with jet lag for a couple of days, and I could not seem to catch a good night's sleep no matter how hard I tried. And then I came down with my first ever case of food poisoning, and I literally thought I was going to die. Thankfully, Adam talked me out of going to the hospital, and Adam went on a late night run to Wal-Mart for Gatorade and stomach medicine. He is the best.

So believe me that after a week of that nonsense, I was more than glad to have a three day weekend, where my bestie Jana came to visit.

We spent time floating around the lazy river and ate yummy gelato on Saturday. On Sunday, we got together with a group of friends, and we did the Escape Pod game. It was so fun. We were "locked" in a room, and we had to follow clues to bust out! Unfortunately, we got really close to solving the puzzle when our time ran out. <whomp, whomp>. I blame math, but I'm looking forward to trying again another time!

On Memorial Day itself, I did the run I do ALMOST every year, The Cotton Row. However, this year I upgraded from the 5K to the 10k.  It was an enjoyable race, truly one of my favorite courses. There is one BACK-BREAKING hill, but once you get up it, the race is literally all down hill from there. I will happily do the 10k again next year!

Click here to follow this blog on bloglovin and keep up with all my posts!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

England/France Trip: Part 2

Our first full day in London was also my 30th birthday! We started the day with breakfast at a local coffee chain we ate at numerous times, Cafe Nerro. I fell in love with their tomato/mozzarella croissants. Delicious. 

Our plan for the morning and the afternoon was to take the train from Waterloo station over to Hampton Court Palace. Hampton Court Palace was one of the main palaces of the Tudor era (and later William & Mary), that I was so excited to see, as I'm obsessed with The Tudors! 

The train ride lasted about 30 minutes, and the palace is just a short walk over the Thames River bridge. The palace itself looks just like what you would imagine a castle from the 1500's would look like. I was so glad we had such a beautiful day to explore the grounds.

We arrived just in time to watch a  little performance featuring Lady Jane Boleyn and Thomas Culpepper. They involved the audience (we were new arrivals that would be members of Queen Katherine Howard's court). And the story told was of the arrest of both Jane & Thomas. I loved seeing the characters in historical dress, and it really was a fun show.

We spent a good couple of hours navigating the different exhibits and rooms in the castle. I loved it. We even got to sit in "throne" like chairs and pretend to be queen and king. 

The gardens were beautiful. And we spent some time walking through the famous hedge maze, taking about 20 minutes to get to the center. 

Before we left, I purchased my favorite souvenir from the trip. These are ornaments featuring Henry VIII and his six wives. LOVE them.

When we got back to the city, we ate at a pub (Earl's Court Tavern), which was right outside of our hotel. On my last trip to London, I did not like the food (outside of fish n' chips). But I enjoyed it a little more this go round. I had bangers & mash, and Adam grabbed fish n' chips. I also drank a lot of cider. 

In the evening, we went to the West End performance of Kinky Boots. I really love musicals, and it was really hard to chose which one we wanted to see on the trip. But a girlfriend praised Kinky Boots so highly that it was my final decision.

We loved it so much (even Adam who has trouble following musicals understood it). It was funny & touching. And during the last song, the whole audience stood up and danced. And since we arrived home from the trip, I've been listening to the sound track on repeat. 

Click here to follow this blog on bloglovin and keep up with all my posts!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

England/France Trip: Part 1

There was several things I had to do in order to get ready for our European adventure. I was happy we weren't leaving until Sunday, which gave me just enough time to mark everything off the to-do list. Of course, there was the seemingly endless packing. It is such a silly complaint when getting to go on a big trip, but there are few things I hate more than packing (except maybe unpacking).

But I also took time to stop by my hairdresser for a much needed trim and highlight. I'm finally blonde again (instead of dirty blonde), and I just love it. And as I been planning FOR MONTHS, I donned my UK themed jam-berry nails for the first leg of the trip!

The day of the trip we dropped Linkey off at the kennel, who wasn't concerned, he loves that place! We had a quick flight to Charlotte before boarding our 8 hour flight to Heathrow. The flight was fairly smooth (thank goodness), since Adam has a horrendous fear of flying.

Our hotel was right outside the Earl's Court Metro station in the Kensington area. Outside our hotel was plenty of activity and restaurants. I had to laugh as our hotel was on Cromwell Street, and as a true crime addict, I know that is the road of the awful home of Fred & Rosemary West.

Of course, we got to the hotel too early to check in, so we changed clothes and cleaned up in the lobby bathroom.  Then, we decided to go ahead and hit the town.

My first overseas trip was to London when I was 17, and I remember the first thing we did was head down to Westminster/Parliament to see Big Ben. And I remember how overwhelmed I felt seeing something I'd seen on TV a million times. And I wanted this to be Adam's first experience as well.

It was just as stunning as I remembered it 13 years ago. 

When I asked Adam if there was anything he particularly wanted to do in England, he reported wanting to see the MI6 building, frequently featured in Bond films. So we took a stroll south on the Thames, down to Voxhaul bridge, to pose outside of the MI6 building. Adam loved it, I just loved walking and taking in the London atmosphere.

Next up, Trafalgar square. What a beautiful area of London. With the huge statues and the people picnicking around the area, it is just a lovely place to spend a little time.

On our trip to Amsterdam four years ago, one of the first things we did was take a cruise on the canals. Adam suggested we do the same for the Thames River (as it was "our thing"). So we took an afternoon tea cruise. The treats (especially the scones) were wonderful. 

We really did enjoy taking in the main sights of London from the water. Our captain was knowledgeable, and he told us many fun tales that I hadn't already heard about the history of England. And so much was learned about the importance of the river.

One of the best aspects of the cruise came just after the cruise. When our boat had docked, the captain told us to stick around, as the Tower Bridge would soon be raised to allow a ship to pass through. It sounds silly, but it was kind of a magic moment to watch. 

Click here to follow this blog on bloglovin and keep up with all my posts!