Monday, July 25, 2011

London Recap

I love my family and I love traveling, but there is definitely a certain amount that I love when its combined.  Fortunately one week is the happy amount that I can enjoy both equally.  The problem with traveling with 4 adults is that we all have varying interesting and abilities.  My father is a history junky and loves to see as many sights as possible, while my mother would prefer to spend her days shopping.  Fortunateily, my sister who planned the week, minimized the shopping and maximized the touring.

I got in to London on Thursday, which was a few days before Ma and Pop Griswold made it into town.  Sis and I wandered around Kensington Palace and Hyde and Holland park, getting a feel for Sis' new neighborhood. On Friday I was sent out to explore London on my own, so I went to the British Museum.  The place was packed, far busier than any of the Smithsonian I've visited.  I really enjoyed the Ancient Egypt area and wrestled my way to see the Rosetta stone. I only lasted an hour before all of the crowds started to stress me out.  I'm fairly certain I missed about half of the museum, but it'l be there for another visit.
Rosetta Stone
On Saturday Sis and I went to the Churchill War Rooms  which was a fascinating museum and historic location.  The museum weaves throughout the former cabinet war rooms fro WWII preserved mostly in its original condition.  There is also a large gallery decide to Churchill and his accomplishments. Although the museum isn't free like many of the others, it was definitely worth the visit.

Sunday the Griswolds arrived, they were fighting jetlag but didn't have much energy.  I decided to head to Notting Hill and Portobello Market (sadly no Hugh Grant sightings)  The "antiques" that many people were selling, where mostly old clothes but it was a nice neighborhood to walk through, and I bought a pretty scarf.
Portobello Street. Notting Hill, London

St. Pauls
Monday was the opening day of extreme sightseeing.  We took one of the hop-on-hop-off busses around the city to get the street view of most of the major sights.  We hopped off at St. Pauls (or St. Marks depending on if you as my Dad and I)
Tower of London 

 and then to the Tower of London (home of the crown jewels)
We took the boat back before navigating our way through the tube during a busy rush hour.

me & sis on the boat back to Central London
Pop and I at Hampton Court
Tuesday was dedicated to some royal property,  Hampton Court (home to Henry the VIII) and Windsor castle, although we missed the entrance by 10 minutes. Hampton court was very interesting to see how medieval palaces were kept and how they function, but I was definitely bummed that we didnt get into Windsor since it is a current castle that HRH travels to on holiday.  That evening was the dinner with the in-laws which marks the 3rd time we've all been together in the 4 years sis and b.i.l. have been together. (the previous 2 were at the wedding!)

Old Globe Theatre
On Wednesday, my dad and I were left to sight see alone.  Fortunately, I have figured out the basics of the underground so we made it to the London eye easily.  After waiting in line for 20 minutes, we were told that the eye had broken and they were unsure when it would reopen.  Totally bummed, Pop and I walked along the south bank to the recreated Shakespeare Old Globe Theatre.  We got a prime seat on the patio for lunch and enjoyed the people watching until our matinee showing of All is well that ends well. The play was a lot of fun and has inspired me to read more Shakespeare (not that optimistic about how long that will last).  After the play Sis, Ma and b.i.l. went back to the house but Pop and I walked back up to the eye to see if it was running again.  It was, but the line was 3x what it was earlier and my dad had no interest in standing in the rain.  Fortunately he decide to pay to upgrade our tickets to the fastpass so we didn't have to wait as long. (highly recommend this!)  My pop is the best!  The view was spectacular, even though it was cloudy.

front gate of Buckingham Palace
On my final full day, we got up early and went down to see the changing of the guards, which ended up begin a contact sport for spectators.  I had a prime location but was getting to knocked around to enjoy it, so I gave up.  ( I mean come on.. its not like the Queen was coming out to say hello)  It was certainly elaborate, but it lost points when the band started playing  New York, New York and My way (fairly certain that wasn't apart of the original changing of the guards...) After lunch, the whole Griswold clan went to Westminister Abbey.  The Abbey is a fascinating place with a lot of famous crypts and most recently the wedding of Prince William and Kate.

London was fantastic, and now that Sis and B.i.l. will be living there I know I'll be back to visit again (and most certainly for the 2012 Olympic games)  But now,  the next phase of my adventures must begin.  I' have moved out of my storage unit and am now visiting my folks in NY before heading out to Spain in September.

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