London, England – Friday, August 15, 2014

Itinerary: Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square, Trafalger Square, Piccadilly Circus, Shaftesbury Ave, and Charing Cross Road.
I went on a wonderful trip this summer to a place I have always wanted to visit, London! My sister and I started planning two years ago by telling our friends this would be the year we’d go and anyone who wanted to come along was welcome to join us.

Last October when I started doing some research and seeing who was still interested in going we were a total of 10 people. By January when we booked we were four. Some friends had to drop out because of different circumstances.

Sister and I started by making a list of what we wanted to see. I broke it up by neighborhood, and then I made mock itineraries to see how many days would be efficient and affordable. We still didn’t get everything on the list done, but we did bloody well!

So the 4 of us (Sister and our two friends, S and D) agreed on 10 days and then decided on a time in August that worked best for everyone.

We left the evening of August 14th and arrived very early in the morning of August 15th.

First off, what is with having to check myself in at a kiosk at Newark? I paid a lot of money for this flight and I am on vacation. Cater to me! This is not my job, it is the job of the people who work in the airport. There should be a human being behind a counter doing all this: checking me in, checking my passport, weighting and tagging my luggage. Why am I doing this? These kiosks are more trouble than they are worth because they quit in the middle of session our session and then an airport employee had to come over and help us anyway. Unbelievable.

So the flight was uneventful, which is good.
We landed later than we were scheduled. Which is fine because the airport pickup service I arranged would take that into account and therefore we would not be charged for the driver’s waiting time. When he was 10 minutes late we called the company to let them know he had not arrived. They said he’d be where we were waiting in 3 minutes. Our driver was a total of 25 minutes late.

The rest of the day was smooth sailing. We checked into Double Tree Hilton. They give you a warm chocolate chip cookie when you check in. The room was nice and clean, and comes with a desktop computer. I love that.

After we were settled we stared touring. We were a 5 minute walking distance from Westminster Abbey. We took the scenic route through Victoria Gardens, taking lots of photos of the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben.

We went inside Westminster Abbey to take the tour. Sister and I did so in May 2013. They don’t allow photos, but I didn’t care this time and I snuck a few. I took Elizabeth I and Mary I tombs and the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots. 

Though Mary I is buried here too, only her sister Elizabeth I’s likeness is shown.

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Mary Queen of Scots. I wonder if Adelaide Kane has been here?

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Sister snuck one of the stain glass window and was reprimanded. She wanted to respond that St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome lets you take photos. lol

After a walk through Parliament Square for more photos we stopped for lunch at The Clarence. I had the fish and chips, because when in Rome London. They were strange there. When people would come in and ask to be seated, the host or hostess would say there were no seats, even though there were empty, unreserved tables.

After some souvenir shopping we walked to Trafalgar Square. My friend, S, climbed lions, which were way too high for me. We took lots of photos. We decided to saved the National Gallery for another day and instead headed to Piccadilly Circus.

Trafalgar Square. I forgot to look up why they had a giant blue rooster.

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Piccadilly Circus was a lot smaller than I thought it would be.

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From there we walked along Shaftesbury Avenue and passed by all the West End plays. I couldn’t recall exactly where Harry, Hermione, and Ron Apparated, but I did see a Rupert Street off of Shaftesbury Avenue. I should have taken a photo, but as it was I was already a block behind my sister and friends because I was stopping to take too many photos.

After browsing some secondhand bookstores on Charing Cross Road, we made our way back to Trafalgar Square and checked out a Waterstones. It’s like their Barnes and Noble. Sister bought their last paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone . I decided to wait till I saw the hardcover edition.

By this point in the day we were exhausted, so we went back to the hotel to take a nap. Late in the evening, around 10-10:30PM we searched for a place to eat, but many places were closed. We found a Subways and had a sandwich. Not my ideal choice, but it was late and our first night in London. We were a bit jet lagged.

On our way back to the hotel Sister was having some trouble with her camera. We were taking some night shots of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, when her camera was saying the memory card was full, but it was only showing the 12 photos she took in the evening. It was quite a nervous scare to have lost a whole days worth of photos plus the other stored photos on the card. Long story short – the photos were ok and on the card. The 12 photos from the evening we stored on the camera’s memory. She started the next day with a brand new memory card. 

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