Luggage needed to be at the front desk for 9:15am so my mom and I had a 7am wake up call. Since we needed to get dressed and finish packing I didn’t want to be rushed. We ended up bringing the luggage down to the front lobby for 9:15am and then going for breakfast. By about 9:30ish my mom and I were hanging out in the lobby bored as could be.
By 10am we were all loaded onto the coach bus and on our way to the airport.
This is pretty much what I saw on the entire drive to the airport.
Once at the airport we had to check in, check our bags and go through security. I ended up having my carry on bag search which sucked. My macbook was already out of the bag, but I had to take my camera and flash out of their case as well as everything else out of the carry on bag. Then they pushed me aside and I basically scrambled to try to put everything back into my bag before it got pushed off the table.
Once in the waiting area we basically waited. I charged my ipod and iphone and just waited till it was time to board the plane.
My mom and I boarded the plane shortly after 2:10pm Paris time and were told that we would land in Toronto by 4:30pm
I napped while on the plane, watched the movies (cant remember what they were) and took photos of the view from out the window.
Once we landed my mom and I went through customs pretty quickly and met my dad at the pick up spot. We then went out to dinner, came home and started to unpack. By 9pm Toronto time/3am Paris time I was exhausted and ready for bed.
My vacation was over, but I had the best time and I cant wait to go back to Europe in a few years.
Today is my last day in Europe. With the night before being a late evening my mom and I decided to sleep in little bit so that we could be well rested for a busy day.
The morning started off with a metro ride to a Harley Davidson Store to get some shirts for my brother and father. We then took the metro to see the Arc De Triomphe.
I took a video of the traffic driving around in a circle because I was shocked at how insane it is. All you hear is car horns. It’s very nerve racking. There are no lines on the road and the cars drive and change spots so often that I got stressed just watching. We decided that we didn’t need to climb up to the top, so we decided to walk down the road instead. We stopped into Swarovski and I purchased a ring.
These stairs lead up to the second floor in the Swarovski store.
The rings I purchased. I gave my sister the blue one.
After that it was another metor ride to the Musee Du Louve for some photos. I wasn’t interested in going inside, so we didn’t.
Instead my mom and I made our way to the Pont Des Arts Bridge which is famous for being covered in locks.
My mom and I even put our own lock onto the bridge.
Afterwards my mom and I decided we should probably have something to eat. It was about 2:30pm by this point so we stopped into a little shop called Le Relais Du Pont Neuf. I ordered a Hamburger with fries and a salad to eat and a Sprit to drink. Price wise the food wasn’t too bad at 10 Euros, however the sprit was 5.50 Euors. The food sucked though. My burger was pretty raw in the middle, so I didn’t eat all of it. There was also cheese on the top and bottom of the burger, which I had asked to be removed when I ordered the burger.
My mom and I walked around a little shopping area after we ate. It started to rain so we ducked into a store and I ended up purchasing 2 pairs of earrings.
We then caught the Metro and were back at the hotel by 5pm. We decided to eat dinner at a cute little Italian Restaurant later in the evening across from our hotel.
After dinner my mom and I started to pack up our belongings. Our luggage was due at the front desk for 9:15am tomorrow morning.
Today started out great. It was the first morning that my mom and I were able to sleep in a little bit. There was no 6am wake up call today, instead we were able to get up around 7-8am. Having spoken to Damien the night before I knew we had more time in the morning then originally planned, which was nice because there were some stores on Oxford Street that I wanted to go into. I kept seeing people with these bubble like umbrella’s and I wanted one for myself, as well I saw a pair of shoes in the window of a store that I wanted to try on.
The shoe’s ended up sucking. I’m a size smaller in Europe and they just didn’t feel like they fit right so I decided against them. As for the umbrella I ended up picking this one instead.
Once our little shopping experience was over we made our way to the Bond Street Underground station and took the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich for The O2. In total it only took us about 15 minutes. Once we had arrived, I sent Damien a message telling him so and thus began the impossible mission of trying to find him. The original plan was that he would park in one of the parking lots or car parks as they call them in Europe, however the car park was closed, so he had to park somewhere else. We were talking on the phone and I was trying to figure out where to go and I basically ended up walking my mom and I in a circle. At this point Damien ditched his car and came to find us.
It wasn’t weird at all meeting for the first time and that’s probably because we’ve known each other for 11 years or so. We met on yahoo chat, back when it was popular and just stayed talking throughout the years. I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to visit London, so getting to meet Damien was an added bonus.
The plan for the day was to take me to see Leeds Castle. I did not want to leave Europe unless I had seen a castle. I had already told Damien this, so he pretty much knew what he was getting himself into.
The first place we stopped at was Rochester Castle. Apparently it’s one of the best-preserved castles of its kind in the UK and it’s amazing to see.
This is what you see when you first walk into the Keep and look up. It was considered to be the Constables Room. You can see where the Great Room would be and then on top of that is the State Apartments.
This is inside the Great Room. The square holes up at the top of the image are where the wooden floor joists would have been.
The next place we visited, was across the road and was Rochester Cathedral. I took this photo from inside Rochester Castle.
Since I did not go into Westminster Abby this was the first Cathedral that I went into and it’s beautiful inside. I was told that the set up in all Cathedrals are basically the same and I was allowed to take photos while inside, which I wasn’t expecting. The lady that greeted us at the side entrance was so nice to talk to and she did a lovely job of answering all the annoying questions that I had.
This is the view from when you walk into the side entrance, which is the first entrance we walked into.
This is the view looking towards the front entrance.
This is the view after you pass thru an archway and I’m standing on the alter looking towards the front entrance.
After we left the Cathedral, we walked along the streets.
It was getting close to lunch time so we ended up popping into a cute little bakery for some sandwiches. Then it was off to Leeds Castle.
This is the side view of the castle and it took me about 10 mins to get this shot. I was waiting for a family to move out of camera view and it took them forever. I’m sure my mom and Damien were right pissed at me for taking so long.
This is the front view, I think. Or it could be the back. I’m not sure. We exited out of that door once the tour was over
The inside of the castle is beautiful and it’s still in use today for weddings, receptions and meetings, as well as open to the general public. After we had toured the castle we walked along the gardens. I found a giant play structure for kids so I went to go see what it was all about while my mom and Damien sat and talked. We decided not to go into a maze that was also on the property so we made our way back to the car. Since I had pretty much seen what I wanted to see, I was all out of ideas as to what else to see. I told Damien that he needed to think of something since he lives here, so he took my mom and I to Herne Bay.
The weather stayed gorgeous the entire day, so we really lucked out. My mom got to put her feet into the English Channel and we walked along the the Bay talking. Of course I was snapping photos of everything I saw.
For dinner Damien took us for Indian at The Six Bells in Cliffe. If I remember correctly this is what I ate.
I think this is Papadom. I could be wrong thou. lol
Mixed Starter – Chicken Tikka, Onion Bhaji and shish kebab
Mine and moms food. I ordered – Mango Delight, (tender pieces of chicken cooked in a mild almond and creamy sauce with mango) Sobji Bhanji (dried vegetables) and chicken fried rice
Damien’s food – can’t remember what he ordered
I think we were at the restaurant for more then 2 hrs. I’m not 100% sure, but my mom noticed it was 9:30pm and announced that we needed to get back to our hotel. Damien drove us to the underground station at the 02 area and we said our goodbyes and then mom and I made our way back to the hotel.
Out of all the day I was in London, today was probably the best day. For one, it didn’t rain at all and I had a blast meeting Damien. All in all it was a perfect way to end my stay in London. o
Tomorrow I was off to Paris, France.
This morning was another early 6am morning wake up for my mom and I. We used the hop on – hop off tour bus to visit Trafalger Square, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and Tower of London.
During our walk around of Trafalger Square we saw Nelson’s Ship in a bottle, The countdown to the 2012 Olympics and the National Gallery.
St Paul’s Cathedral was beautiful. My mom and I didn’t go into it because I wasn’t feeling the line up, or the walk up all the stairs. Plus we still had other sights to see and I wanted to spent more time there.
The original Cathedral burned down in 1666 and in 1706 it was replaced with the neo-classical design that stands today. It’s amazing how they look nothing alike. This photo comes from one of the the walk ways at Tower bridge.
Tower Bridge and the Tower of London were amazing. We used the hop on – hop off tour bus again. The bus drives you over Tower Bridge and stops at the Tower of London.
My mom and I decided that it made the most sense to do Tower Bridge first so we walked all the way back to the Bridge. Basically how it works is that you go up one side of the Bridge using the elevator, then you walk along the enclosed walkways at the top and you then come down the other side using the stairs and then you can use your ticket to see the engine rooms.
Once the Bridge was done we made our way over to the Tower of London. We purchased the audio tour which tells you about the building as you walk through at your own pace. You pretty much just walk around within the castle walls and have the options to go inside the other buildings that are there. My mom and I decided that it would be best to see the crown jewels first since it was the only building with a line up.
My mom had visited London several years ago and had already seen inside the building but she agreed to wait in line with me again. It’s a good thing she did, because they changed it all from when she saw it. When she was there, you walked into the building and turned to the right which led you to the vault which is where the jewels are kept, however when we first walked in we were instructed to turn to the left and walk through several rooms each with different videos playing explaining and showing you the crown jewels. My mom and I were listening along to the audio so everything was explained. Eventually we came to the vault that had the jewels. It was all so amazing to see and hear. I wasn’t able to take any photos due to security reasons.
Once we finished at the Tower of London we caught the hop on – hop off tour bus and made our way back to the hotel. We arrived around 3pm and dinner was Pret A Manger again. I must say I love the wraps there. Around 5:30pm my mom and I caught a cab and made our way to Her Majesty’s Theater for the 6:30pm showing of Phantom of the Opera. We had front row, center seats and the orchestra was directly in front of us. Since you arn’t allowed to take photos while the show is on, I secretly snapped one during intermission. That’s my mom’s hand in the photo. The orchestra was directly in front of us.
Once the show was over, which was amazing I might add, we tried to catch a cab. We ended up having to walk up to Piccadilly circus where we were eventually able to get one. Once back at the hotel we double checked the routes we needed to take tomorrow for the underground/tube, made a 7am wake up call and hoped into bed for tomorrow was sure to be an exciting day.
After talking to Damien for 11 years online, tomorrow was the day that I would finally get to meet him.
This morning we had an orientation bus tour allowing us to see all the main sights. Our first stop was the Royal Albert Hall. We then drove around Piccadilly Circus which is like a mini version of time square, then we did a drive around Trafalgar square. We crossed the Thames Bridge and stopped at Westminster Abby. My mom and I walked up to see Big Ben and walked along westminster bridge. After that we were off to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards. It started to lightly rain and I was worried that they would cancel the changing of the guards, but I got to see it happen and the rain held off till we were back in the bus. After that it was back to the hotel.
My mom and I grabbed something to eat at a place called Pret A Manger which is a sandwich shop that has delicious wraps and sandwich’s. We then made our way to Kensington Palace, using a hop on – hop off tour bus. I ended up purchasing a ring that looks like the Spencer family tiara. Afterwards my mom and I walked through Kensington Gardens and we ended up at the Diana Memorial Fountain. Then we walked through Hyde Park and went back to the hotel.
While we were back at the hotel we tried to figure out dinner plans. My mom had asked front desk for some suggestions and they told us that there are a few places down St. James Street, so while she was trying to map it out, I got to talk to Damien for the first time on the phone. (more on him later) Past communication has been via facebook or whatsapp (which is messaging program for the iphone). So we talked about random stuff and confirmed our plans to meet for the first time on Tuesday July 19th 2011. Afterwards while mom and I were walking around Damien suggested a restaurant for us to try. He suggested two actually, one being his favourite and another being an interesting place to eat. Since the interesting place to eat was closer to our hotel we decided to check that place out.
The restaurant is called Sketch and is on Conduit Street. Apparently it’s like a living art museum made famous by football (soccer) wives and girlfriends going there. When my mom and I arrived, we were shocked to find it closed. Apparently it’s not opened on Sundays. So I sent a text to Damien telling him so and he suggested that we go to his favourite restaurant, Il Cucciolo located on Denman Street, however that was closed as well. So my mom and I just ended up eating at a british pub.
After dinner we decided to walk up to Piccadilly Circus. It was pretty packed because there were some street dancers performing in the street. By this point it was pretty late and we didn’t want to have to walk back to our hotel on Oxford Street, so we decided to take the underground/tube for the first time. It was all pretty easy to figure out and we were back at our hotel in no time. My mom got to work on figuring out our route for tomorrow and I snuggled up in bed to try to fall asleep. Another 6am wake up call was something I was not looking forward to.