"There is no more — a higher calling — than raising children who are kind, who live with grace and who are going to be generous human beings in the world. There isn’t anything greater than that."

– Oprah Winfrey


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

London, England

I've never been one to pass up a rare opportunity.
My love of traveling is well-known and well-cultivated.
I'm up for going just about anywhere in the world. I'm blessed enough to have a best friend with whom
I travel really well and who also shares that love with a matched passion you don't find everywhere.

When the discussion about visiting England and France came up, I was exhilarated and anxious all at once.
Traveling is amazing. Being in all those different places and racking up the memories and 
experiences is pretty effin' great. I gotta say though, it does come with much stress and 
anxiety too. I've got guilt about leaving everyone behind, which I hate. Guilt is 
probably the biggest thing that keeps me from traveling more than I already do.
Figuring out all the details and technicalities always makes my stomach turn.
I hate asking people to babysit my kids. I hate the events and activities that my
kids will miss while we're away, if they come with me... missing them. Missing my husband...
It comes with a lot of stress. But that saying I've heard time and again is totally true: 

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Let me just say, with this trip, Jaclyne, the girls and I... we became richer.
What my girls missed in special lunches and field trips in kindergarten, 
they gained in life experience making wishes at the very top of the Eiffel Tower
and laying in the grass of Prince William and Princess Kate's Kensington Palace.
I'm totally okay with that. 

We landed in London after a 10 1/2 hour flight from Los Angeles.
Hear that?? 10. Of which the girls slept exactly 2. 
 Yeah. Not fun.

The flight was a long one but it really went by in a flash.
I got to watch, like, 4 movies that I'd been wanting to see.
Perks of Being a Wallflower? Really, really good movie. I'm glad I saw it.

Landing in London was a trip. On the flight over, hearing them speak
in their oh so proper British accent was music to my ears.
I pick up on dialects really quickly and love to try to speak in them.
Twice during my time in London I tried to talk like them, TO them.
One lady gave me a funny look when I asked for the loo...lol.
The other just had no reaction and I felt like a real Londoner. Pretty funny.

Of course Ella made friends wherever she went. She even got this pilot to help
her roll her luggage over to Customs for her and help push the stroller.

We took a train into Paddington Station.

The girls got a kick out of the taxis here. Instead of everyone facing forward, we all face each other.

We stayed at the Apex Temple Court Hotel.
It was beautiful and comfortable. And it smelled good, that's always a plus in my book.
Plus the staff was really good and kind to my girls. 
After a quick nap to help us adjust to the 8 hour time difference, we went to visit the city
for a bit to get a feel for the sight seeing we'd be doing tomorrow. Everything there
feels royal. Everywhere I look, every step I take, every door knob I handle...
it all feels like someone royal has been there before me. The sheer history of the place is
amazing and fascinating to me.

Picadilly Square... like Times Square but not as great.
It's lit up, but not as brightly. There are street performers everywhere.

After a low key dinner, we made our way back through Covent Garden and
down to our hotel. It had been a really long day with all the traveling and
the time change and we could've all used some extra sleep to gain strength for the days to come.

The thing is, that whole night, I couldn't sleep for more than an hour at a time.
I became really well acquainted with the BBC and finally the sounds of all the
soothing British voices lulled me to sleep.


When I think of London, the first things that really come to my mind are
the big double-decker red buses, Beg Ben, Buckingham Palace...

On our first day of really getting to see the heart of London, we got to see all of it.

The church where Princess Di and Charles got married...
St. Paul's Cathedral.

We rode the double-decker from historical place to historical place.
I was unable to fully wrap my head around where we were and what exactly we were seeing.
It was surreal and yet SO very real. We were actually in London.

We got head phones to listen to the tour as the bus guided us through all the must-sees.

Hyde Park

We got off the bus after passing through Knotting Hill, which I really loved.
We decided to go see what Harrod's had to show us...
It was nice but really, nothing holds a candle to our Nordstroms or the Macy's in NY.

Ella enjoying a cheese toastie from the Harrod's Food Hall.
This place was a foodie's dream. Every kind of food you could dream of eating, all
in one glorious hall. We chose a few things from the vast selection,
 things that we could enjoy on the rest of our bus tour.

We ended our day with a ride on the London Eye.
The sun was starting to set... mind you, it was like 9pm.
It's still crazy to me how late the sun sets over there!
Makes getting used to the time change all that much harder.

Big Ben from the London Eye.

Our night ended with a walk around the city and a lovely
Beef Wellington dinner at Simpson's-in-the-Strand Hotel.

There are too many vacation days (12) and experiences to fit into one post so I will do a series of them.

It was a lovely day in a gorgeous city.

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