Friday, May 08, 2015

London, England

In March 2014, Drew & I dropped the dogs off at the boarders and headed down to Nuremberg, to head to London, England. This was our first flight with Ryanair. Ryanair is fantastic! It was under 200 euros RT to London Stansted. It was a 2 hour direct flight, of course one of the things I remember about this trip was how I was so sick. 2 days before I had finally called sick out of work only to find out I had a sinus infection! Flying, or traveling of any kind while you are sick is just the worst!
We arrived in London early afternoon, gaining an hour since Germany is an hour a head of England. Since England is not a part of the European Union we had to go through customs (make sure when traveling you have the address of where you are staying, IDK why they asked for it, but they did) and I got another stamp in my passport. :)
London Stansted is an hour out of the city of London. I did research and found a bus that would take us to the main train station, Victoria station, and from there we could use the tube to our hotel. Only thing, was that the lines were incredibly long and when we finally got to talk to someone, he said that it was better to take the tube on our own because our hotel was no where near where they would drop us off. So we followed the signs (Everything's in English! YAY!) and found the train.We talked to the cashier and told her where we wanted to go, and she gave us directions and the tube station where we wanted to go to.
London <3

Be fair warned, London is expensive! At the time the Pound to USD rate was not in our favor, 2 years later it is still not in our favor, but at the time 1 USD equaled 1.64 £. To get to the city of London it costs us 30£ per person! That included a day trip unlimited rides, which eventually worked out in our favor.
While Drew was purchasing the tickets, I was being a lookie-loo and looking at all the maps and tourists attractions. This was one of the times it's a good thing I like to browse. At the time they were offering with the purchase of two tickets, we would get Buy One Get One on the tourist attractions, which helped out a lot!
We finally made it on the tube, it was a comfortable ride, they sell drinks and food, but we decided to wait until we got to our hotel to eat. When we made it onto the Brown line (it was where our hotel was located) we realized that we would be passing right through King's Cross Station!!! =D I think the simplest way to describe why this was so exciting to me is because I LOVE LOVE LOVE Harry Potter. We HAD to stop off and see Platform 9 3/4. For those of you who don't know what Platform 9 3/4 is, shame on you, but I'll share the basic information, it is the fictional location for departure of train to Hogwarts, selling magic artifacts and wizarding gear.So with our bags we stopped off at King's Cross Station in search of Platform 9 3/4.
Cellphone Selfie @ King's Cross

Like a kid in a candy store.

King's Cross station is not what I thought it was going to be. I'll blame it on the movies, or maybe my lack of knowing what a train station is supposed to be like. But we found it! (Did I mention how glad I was things were in English?) There was even a whole section dedicated to Harry Potter!! I was in heaven.

After our little detour, we got back on the tube and headed towards the hotel. After exiting the tube station we had NO idea where to go. Our phones weren't as smart as they are now. So we started walking and found the hotel about 10 minutes away! Score! I rented an apartment through, So Quartier NW6 , we paid 230 pounds for the weekend, it was the cheapest I could find, and it wasn't too bad, the walls were cracking and it was on a busy street, but for the price it wasn't too bad. It was located above a Tesco market, to save money we bought groceries and cooked meals our selves.
By the time we settled in the sun had set, I'm not entirely sure where our day went, and we were exhausted, we asked the concierge where we could get some Fish & Chips, before heading to London I've never had Fish & Chips, so Drew suggested we get some, when in London right? The concierge suggested a little ship 5 minutes up the road, it was amazing! We watched the cooks make it from scratch, it was beer battered! YUM! I loved it so much that's all I ate while we were there.
The next morning we woke up early, had some breakfast and headed back to the tube station. We purchased Oyster Cards, (Oyster is a plastic Smart Card which can hold pay as you go credit, Travel cards and Bus & Tram season tickets. You can use an Oyster card to travel on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London) then headed off into the city.
The tube is fantastic, it actually tells you where the sights are! Not to mention everything is in English. Haha.
Paddington Bear

Our first destination was to the London Eye. This was one of the attractions that we were able to use our BOGO coupons from the London Stansted Express. We waited in line to purchase tickets for 20 minutes. I'd suggest going earlier if you don't want to wait. But we had to since we used the BOGO coupon.

London Bridge from the London Eye

In the London Eye

From the London Eye we found a Hop On Hop Off bus. We usually use these in every city we travel to that has one, and usually it's a great deal, but honestly in my opinion it was a complete waste of money. The tube is easier, quicker, and cheaper. But if you want to see the London Skyline and sit on the top of a double-decker bus, do it.
In London we checked out all the major sites, the Tower of London, London Bridge, Tower Bridge (We have a thing for bridges) Buckingham Place, etc.
Tower Bridge
 I loved the Tower of London. The Royal Crown Jewels are located here as well. The Tower of London has served as everything from a royal residence to a zoo for exotic animals, but it remains best known as a fearsome prison and torture chamber. First constructed in the wake of the Norman Conquest in 1066, the Tower has held some of Great Britain’s most prominent inmates, including disgraced royals, would-be revolutionaries and even Nazi officers. Fun fact: England’s Tower of London is required to have at least seven captive ravens on its grounds at all times. According to legend, in the 17th century King Charles II heard a prophecy that the Tower would fall if the ravens were allowed to fly away, prompting him to clip the wings of several of the birds. The tradition continues to this day, and the Tower even keeps its own “ravenmaster” on staff.
Tower of London

Ticket to get in

Sidles' @ Tower of London

Grey Coat Guard

No Pictures were allowed inside. 

From the Tower of London, we caught the HOHO bus to Parliament, and checked out the area, including the famous Westminster Abbey. But the church wasn't open, so we continued walking to the next bus stop.

Everything in the Picture screams London to me

We ended up at Buckingham Palace. I'm sure this is on everyone's list when visiting. It's cool and all but damn there are a lot of people. We got to see the guards, although they were in their grey winter coats, they weren't going to change back into the famous red ones for another 2 weeks.

Famous Buckingham Palace Guard

From Buckingham Palace we headed to the Hard Rock Cafe, the Original Hard Rock, it has been in the same location since 1971! How cool is that?

We both literally laughed out loud at the sign

The Original Hard Rock Cafe.

After having some drinks and dinner, we decided to call it a night, we were headed to Stonehenge in the morning. We tried to find the HOHO bus so it could take us to the tube stop furthest out, But all the HOHO buses drove pass us kept saying they were out of service. They had stopped running early. So with no other choice, we continued to walk and walk and walk until we got to a tube station. Only it was the wrong one. It didn't go to where we wanted and it we would've had to change trains 3 times! So we continued to walk until we got to the famous Victoria station. We walked what felt like forever. My medicine was starting to wear off and I was feeling like poop. (Joys of being on vacation) So we go on the tube and headed back to the hotel to get a good night sleep. Our day in London was amazing. I would love to go back again, but maybe I'll save more before heading there, and hopefully I'm not sick!