|I had no idea what I was looking at|
1. Bank holiday. I found out about this with about 2 weeks notice after I started work. The banks take holidays on certain days of the year besides the ususal Christmas and Easter. So now they're the national holidays similar to the MLKJr\Memorial\Labor\Veterans days in the US. By the time we got around to planning something, all the southern UK beach towns were booked solid (or required a 3 night min stay). Bummer, I'll have to use my PTO.
2. Planning trips is hard. I'm not talking about the fun stuff like sightseeing, restaurants, etc. Its the pain-in-the-ass wallet-draining logistics. The conversation goes like this.
Me: OK! Hotel is booked, got a great deal! We can check in after 3 pm.
Kerry: Hm, well, since we wanted the least expensive roundtrip train, we leave at 6 am and get there at 8.
Me: Alright so it says here we can check our luggage for a 5 pound fee, we'll do that first thing, after we buy Oyster cards. Oh and the bus to the train station doesn't run early enough so we have to park at the station over the weekend, that's 12 pounds.
Kerry: And after we check out the next morning, we'll have to store our luggage at the train station for another 8 pounds.
Me: Well there goes all my pint money.3. Oyster cards are great. They're a 5 pound deposit (refundable) pay-as-you-go London travel ticket. The daily fee is capped at the cost for a single-day unlimited travel ticket, and it works on the underground trains and buses. We went nutz with these, thanks to google maps on the iphone telling us where the underground stations were, what buses to take, and when to "alight".
4. Walk walk walk! From casual observation, I notice that incredible amounts of bread and sweets are eaten here (from my perspective, which is relatively low in flour consumption). But I don't see the levels of obesity that is common in the States; in fact most of the young guys look straight-up emaciated in their jeggings. I think this is because everyone is out walking. Even if taking public transportation, there's quite a bit of walking and stairs involved. Also, I notice way more smoking here than in the States, and I lived in a city that only put a public ban out last year (for reference some CA cities had smoking bans over 10 years ago). I think that suppresses appetites. I know I was ravenous after all the walking we did.
5. We forgot to charge the camera battery, so half the photos are from an iphone.
|Walker and tourist friendly|
|Managing the tourist crowds like a boss|
|On our way to see the crown bling|
Ended up at Harrods which is a wonderful madhouse filled with ostensibly rich Arabs. I don't think any of the shoppers spoke English. We found ourselves in the chocolates room, so I offered to buy Kerry something. The selection was so overwhelming that her decision making ability shut down. I randomly picked a few out of the nearest display case at 1.50 pounds each (yikes) - but they were top notch. I also saw "American" dry aged ribeyes going for 15 pounds per 100 grams, which is nearly $120/lb. Confusing I know - going from grams per pound (money) to pounds (weight) per dollar.
After checking in at EasyHotel, a low cost hybrid hostel/hotel room that got design ideas from cruise ships, we changed and headed out for dinner. I made reservations at a mid-priced French restaurant that had good reviews. The house wine was better than expected at a decent price. Kerry had the grilled mussels, a perfectly cooked ribeye with Bearnaise sauce, and a lemon tart. I had a goose rillette, a classic beef bourguignon, and a tarte tatin. I successfully pronounced my entire order wrong, but the server was kind enough. I am a bit worried to order when we get around to visiting France...
|Bare bones, but at least we had a window|
|Booty Wurk by paint splatter dance crew|
Hyde Park was a perfect option - wide, open, quiet, and sunny. We made our way to the Serpentine lake and I rented a rowboat. How very touristy of me, and I know Kerry thought it was very romantic. It was quite pleasant as we watched the Muslim children feed bread to the ducks and pigeons.
|And the swans weren't too shy either|
In the meantime it's back to work to make more money for traveling. Today I had to buy normal stuff that I didn't pack which is boring and irritating (since I own this stuff in the States already). But the goal is to keep that to a minimum and will hopefully be sufficiently used or worn-out before we return.