We’re still alive! My week 2 blog post is a little late, but cut me some slack, I have moved to a new country, relocated twice since moving here and have been relearning how to grocery shop, use a telephone, bake in a UK oven and more.
So our second week in the UK was a monumental one! We not only celebrated Jared’s 28th birthday, but our 10 year anniversary together/4 year wedding anniversary. And of course we chose London to celebrate. With it being our first time visiting London since our study abroad in 2008, we did the most appropriate thing, acted like typical American tourists. Our plans took a slight detour when Jared had his first overnight work outing scheduled for that Friday down on the southern coast of England in Bournemouth. So after work on Friday I took a quick 1 hour train ride to meet him on his actual birthday on the coast – it was beautiful! While Jared was out with his new coworkers I explored the seaside a little bit. I’m looking forward to going back when it’s a littler warmer, I bet it will be quite lovely. The only pictures I got were from my iPhone. We learned our lesson the hard way; make sure you take the memory card out of the computer after exporting images. Oops. At least we didn’t travel to Rome to learn that lesson.
We woke up extra early on Saturday to catch the first train out of Bournemouth to spend the rest of the weekend in London.
Day 1 in London – Saturday
First on the list was Buckingham Palace and all of its grandeur. I was keeping my eyes on the curtains to catch a glimpse of the Queen peeking out. No luck.
Then we took a stroll by Scotland Yard to get to Westminster Abbey. The church is just stunning. There was a lot of construction taking place on the exterior, so hopefully we can get the full glimpse of it in the spring. And of course you cannot visit Westminster without seeing the tall man himself, Big Ben.
After walking around the clock tower and the parliament building we took a nice afternoon stroll along the River Thames passing the London Eye, Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare Globe Theater and more to get to the Borough Market. The market is very similar to Cleveland’s West Side Market, perhaps a little bigger, but boy was it YUMMY! We dug in with some red sangria, a tomato/pesto/sea salt focaccia roll and a duck confit sandwich. Yes, it was as good as it sounded.
Then we headed over to London’s theater district to grab dinner and see a show! We had previously decided to do no or small gifts on big occasions for the next few years since we are going to be traveling so much. But in typical Jared fashion, at dinner he pulled out an amazing surprise for our anniversary. He got us tickets to Christmas at Downton on December 4. So stay tuned for an update about that. I. AM. SO. EXCITED. (What do I wear? #eek) After that amazing surprise we headed across the street to see Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. We spent 20 minutes staring at the candy counter trying to decide what all the different candy bits were. In the end we went with something that had toffee & chocolate in it since it was Charlie and the CHOCOLATE factory. Back to the show. I was a bit skeptical that they could bring the magic of the factory to life on stage, but they definitely delivered. The props, acting and costumes were spectacular. I highly recommend going to see this show if it comes near you.
After the show we ventured out to see the amazing Tower Bridge lit up and then back up the Thames to see Big Ben, Westminster, London Eye and Buckingham all lit up as well. By the end of the day we had walked 27,000 steps. My feet were dead on arrival at the hotel, which we did not even check into until midnight. It was a FULL but FUN day to say the least.
Day 2 in London – Sunday
After doing a marathon around London on Saturday, we said we would take it easy on Sunday. We really tried to, but who can sit still when you are in such an amazing place. We started the day off with a walk through the famous Hyde Park, which happens to be one of many places Jane Austen has Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth Bennet rendezvousing. The Royal Parks Marathon happened to be going on when we arrived, so we chimed in and cheered on the 1000’s of runners gliding along.
Then we grabbed some croissants and tea at an Italian café before heading into Selfridges, a notable British department store that now has its own British show, “Mr. Selfridge“. Let’s just say it’s out of our budget, but lots of pretty things to look at. After browsing for a little bit, we walked back through Hyde Park to get to The Serpentine Lake, which brought back some fond memories for Jared and I, #Flashback. We were lucky enough to win a random online ticket lottery to the annual Red Bull Flugtag that took place in London in 2008. So Jared and I and sat on the edge of the lake watching homemade flying contraptions and their crew sling themselves off a large pier all day. It was an absolute blast, and something I know we will always remember. However, we were so under prepared. No food, blankets or chairs for an 8 hour event. Next time we get so lucky, we’ll be ready.
You can see all of our Flugtag pictures here, in a really old Facebook album.
After reminiscing and watching the ducks & swans glide along the Serpentine we headed over to Kensington Palace to see the gardens. Although still really pretty, we will be back this spring to see all the flowers in bloom. Fun fact, we saw a little girl get bit by a swan. Lesson learned; do not feed the swans.
After strolling through some more of the parks many beautiful tree lined paths we headed to Harrods. Back when I studied abroad in the UK, I did a marketing practicum at Harrods, so it was fun to come back and see it again, oh and the chocolatier room, my absolute fave! Jared and I got a sampling of the various chocolatiers specialties and then hit up Harrods Christmas World. It was as magical as I hoped. We couldn’t leave without a new Christmas ornament. I am looking forward to putting it on our mini tree this year. After riding Harrods 20 million dollar Egyptian Escalator a few more times, we headed to meet a friend who has been living in Switzerland for the past two years for a quick pint. We got so many amazing travel tips from her, thanks Megan! You can check out her awesome blog, Passports & Postcards.
On our way back to the hotel to grab our bag and head back to Reading, we had to cut through Leicester Square, which is where all of the big movie premiers take place in London. We saw a big crowd gathering and looked to see what movie it was, and go figure it was a JOHNNY DEPP movie, Black Mass. If you know me at all, you know that I have loved Johnny Depp for basically my entire existence. So it was not an option, we had to squeeze through the crowd and get as close as possible in the rare chance that Johnny was actually there. I successfully nudged my way through the people and claimed a spot on the front of the fence. However, Jared was stuck behind with the camera, so I had to rely on my new, trusty rose gold iPhone 6s to capture the moment. I had no idea who was there or who was going to come out, but I saw the fancy cars lining up and the security guards getting in place, mouthing “5 minutes.” Then the doors opened and Benedict Cumberbatch walked out, known for his roles in Imitation Game, Star Trek & The Hobbit. I would have settled for just him over Kevin Bacon, BUT then he came out… Johnny Depp. Not gonna lie, I got goosebumps and a shaky hand. I tried to keep my little iPhone steady, but I was TOO EXCITED. As shifty as Captain Jack, smooth as Roux and as quirky as Benny he came and went. I can officially cross “Seeing Johnny Depp” off my bucket list.
After that adrenaline rush we headed home with sore feet, dreams made & our sweet tooth’s satisfied. It was a fantastic weekend celebrating. I am looking forward to going back to London to explore even more of the quirky and small niches in London like Camden Market, tea rooms & museums.
You can see all of the photos from our weekend in the London on Flicker >>> CLICK HERE.
Stay tuned for my next blog soon about moving into our new flat. I’ll share some pictures of our new place, because EVERYONE has been asking. Don’t get your hopes too high, it’s nothing super special.