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 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.
We ended up having to wait for a van that was to pick us up and take us to our hotel. Our Hotel was called Thistle Marble Arch and it was located on the opposite side of Oxford Street. The drive its self took longer then it should have due to traffic, but It was a nice drive I thought. There was a lady whom was going to a different hotel and she kept complaining about how long the drive was taking. I was glad when we arrived to drop her off at her hotel.
After we checked into our hotel my mom and I decided to walk along Oxford Street and see what was around us. We ended up having Mcdonald’s for dinner and then we found the Marble Arch Underground/Tube Station.
- History Lesson – Marble Arch is a white Carrara-marble monument at the junction of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and Edgware Road, almost directly opposite Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park in London, England. The arch is on a large traffic island, which also includes a very small park, in the midst of traffic. The traffic island is directly across from the Marble Arch underground/tube station. It was originally erected on The Mall as a gateway to the new Buckingham Palace. A popular story says that the arch was moved because it was too narrow for the Queen’s state coach to pass through, but, that’s not the case. The gold state coach passed under it during Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.
At 7pm we had our welcome meeting at the hotel. We met the other individuals that had booked the same tour as us and everything was explained such as how we would be getting to Paris, France and optional excursions we could participate in while in London. We opted out of the excursions because we already had a plan for what we wanted to see and do.
That evening we decided to just take it easy. We ended up staying in the hotel and unpacked, and I decided I wanted to have a shower. This resulted in 6 calls to housekeeping and the front desk because we had difficulty trying to shut off the shower. I meant to get a photo of the shower but I forgot, so I’ll do my best to describe it. The shower has two knobs and basically the first one is a large knob that works turning the shower on and off. The second knob is in front of the first knob and that controls the temperature of the water. We figured all this out once housekeeping finally came up to turn off the shower. Basically we couldn’t figure out which way to turn the knob. While housekeeping was doing it, it was explained that the large knob is turned counter clockwise to turn the shower on and clockwise to turn it off. Only thing, is that the knob is rather difficult to turn. Hence why we had an issue with it. Once we finally got the shower deal figured out I went to bed.
Tomorrow was going to be the start of several busy days and it was already after midnight and we had a 6am wake up call.
Yesterday evening I hung out with my brother and his friends a few towns over for one of his friends birthday. There was no waiting behind a velvet rope for us. It was nice. I forgot what it felt like to just be able to walk into a place without having to wait.
I’ve been hanging out with my brother and his friends more often now since my friends live far away and all have kids. It’s not like they can just come visit me whenever, which is okay; don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to hang out with people close to my age and just have some fun. I especially like the fact that I don’t have to worry about any weirdoes at the bar since I’m protected by a bunch of guys.
Anyways, while hanging out with my brothers friends, one of them was telling me about how they went to Paris for New Years so we were talking about things that he’s done while he was there and I started to realize that I should probably put a little bit more effort into looking into things that I want to do while in Paris. Seeing the Eiffel Towel is pretty much the main attraction for me and I guess I haven’t really looked into it because I am a little bit worried about the lack of crowd control while visiting, since it will be smack in the middle of summer. I’m mostly worried about the panhandlers or pickpocketers. My mom’s already been to London, England and knows her way around, so I’m not as worried, but Paris, France will be new to both of us.
Since I plan to bring my Nikon D5100 I was basically lectured about making sure I keep my camera bag in front of me at all times. I’m also worried about having to stand in long lines behind barricades only to realize that it was all a waste of time. That’s why I keep going back and forth with wanting to do the London Eye. I’ve been told it can be busy at times which would require more then an hour wait, so I’m not sure if the half hour ride would be worth it in the end. I guess it all depends on what the weather is like.
Speaking of the weather, it’s raining something nasty outside, I can hear the thunder rolling in and my power is flickering so I best get off the computer for the time being.
ps. Don’t forget about my summer holiday/vacation guest post.