Saturday, September 3, 2011

Europe Part 2– London

After leaving Dublin on Monday we flew to London.


We flew on RyanAir and for those who haven’t had the experience of flying on RyanAir I highly recommend it…its like being on a bus from Vegas to Orlando (or between two cities you would expect to ride a tacky bus with lots of merchandising). The entire inside of the airplane is a giant advertisement, from the the stickers on the overhead bins down to the tray tables. They sell lotto tickets on the drink cart and smokeless cigarettes along with other crap. I guess when your fares are that low you make it up for it in interesting ways of annoying your captive audience.
Our first day in London was kind of hum-drum, with most of the day spend in transit from Dublin we dropped our bags at our apartment, grabbed some fish and chips for lunch, then we went grocery shopping for beer and breakfast food. The day ended with us drinking in the Knotting Hill neighborhood. We didn’t see Julia or Hugh in case you were curious.
JenRob and I having beverages in Knotting Hill


Our second day in London started with a great tour of Parliament. Our tour guide was a sweat English lady that was quite knowledgeable. I feel bad that I have toured Parliament but still haven’t made it to D.C. to visit our own heads of government. Maybe next year.
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Mike and JenJan walking from our Apartment to the Tube.
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Look Kids, Big Ben…Parliament.
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Mike and JenJan outside of Westminster Abbey
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Mikey and I in front of Buckingham Palace
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Inside the Churchill War room…Matt and I elected to do this tour while the others went to Westminster (since I had already been to the Abbey a few years ago). for history buffs I highly recommend this tour. There is a really nice interactive Churchill museum in addition to the war rooms themselves.
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I think this needs to be my new motto…this is a way better motivational poster than the “successories” things.
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Matt and JenRob on the tube
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We got tickets to the Arsenal UEFA Champions series game that night…after the London riots the previous week we weren’t sure they would play the matches or if we would want to be out with a bunch of soccer hooligans…but their were Bobbies everywhere and we were fine at one of the most corporate stadiums in the EPL.
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Mike and JenJan at Emirates stadium
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The Doug sporting Red for the Gunners at Emirates stadium
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After the match (which Arsenal won) we went out near the embankment area and got a nighttime look at the London Eye.

Day 5

Our third day in London started with a squirrel attack…on our way to St Paul’s we approached a squirrel that was eating a mouse on the sidewalk of the churchyard. At first the squirrel went after Mike, I of course said “come on, its just a squirrel” then the little bastard started after me. Being that I was wearing shorts and soft shoes, rather than jeans and boots, I thought better of stomping the little shit and I too ran away like a scared child. After that we proceeded to the front doors to await the opening of the church.
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The guys on the front steps of St. Paul’s. You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the church (unless you are an oblivious and rude Chinese tourist as we found out) so we don’t have any inside photos. But the place is glorious.
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View from the top of the dome of St. Paul’s.
This was the first of may climbs to the top of tall monuments and buildings on our trip….more high aloft photos to come. The interesting part of the climb, or scary depending on your prospective, was once you left the whispering gallery and started the accent between the lower and outer dome you where on some very tight steel grate spiral stairs. They were challenging for those challenged by heights but they appeared to be better than the wood ladder-like steps that were the original way to get to the top that you could still see on the inside of the lower dome as you climbed.
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Our Beefeater at the Tower of London. This guy gave our British Parliament lady a run for the money on “Best Tour Guide” of the trip.
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It was a little busy at the Tower of London that day.
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We decided to eat our lunch while waiting in line to see the crown jewels.
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Tower Bridge (not the London Bridge as may mistake it for)
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After the Tower, Matt and JenRob and I went to the Royal Mews (carriage house and stables) near Buckingham.
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Can’t remember this pretty guys name. One of the horses that pulled the coach for Kate and William’s wedding.
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Robertson’s in front of the Wellington Arch. We went to the top of this too, but it had and elevator.
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Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery
After the Wellington Arch we did a quick run through the National Gallery (which was super packed) and then we headed to Harrods’ department store in South Kensington.  After grabbing a pastry in the food hall at Harrods’ we walking across Hyde Park to our apartment. During our nice walk it started to rain on us….the park was larger than we thought.

Day 6

Day six was our last partial day in London. We woke early, packed up and dragged our bags to the Eurostar train station (were we had a 4pm train later in the day). We placed our bags in storage so we could tour the nearby British Museum before leaving for Paris later that day.
The British Museum is free (donations optional)and thus it is SUPER BUSY. The crowds in the Egyptian rooms were a bit much for me. Luckily I had been here in April 07 with mom so I sought out other things to look at in the quieter parts of the museum.
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Robertson’s on the Stairs at the British Museum
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Mike and JenJan
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I spent a considerable amount of time in the Asian sections of the Museum…thus I saw many Buddha…coincidentally…or maybe most appropriately….this area was the calmest section of the museum.

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