{ First Day in London }

   When I start planning a trip, I get really excited as the first little details start falling into place. Then a month or so later I begin getting really overwhelmed-it takes me a good month of just enjoying the excitement before reality hits that I have to actually plan the trip. After I start digging into all the fun things we will do, my anxiety starts to fade away and I get super excited again about what we are about to experience.The thought of planning a 13 day trip to Europe was making itself to the very top of the “most overwhelming things to do” list of mine. (The whole building a house thing was right up there too, but I had quite a bit longer to fret about that one). As the time was getting closer I felt like I was in my panic mode for a lot longer than usual, and with all the day to day life we were trying to live, the planning always seemed to be on the back burner.

At Christmas time when we had surprised Brianna and Austin with “Their” trip, ( a great story I must remember to write down in it’s entirety-it was pretty intense), we had ordered a series of Rick Steves’ travel books to go right along with it. With our Rick Steves’ books in hand, we sat down to sort out every little detail of this trip. Brianna was my get it done girl. She made up a whole master notebook and started researching and organizing some of our activities for London and Paris. As we would look online for updated details and reviews of each site, we would mark down our favorite activities and then Aaron would type them into his master Excel spreadsheet. It was really nice to have an hour by hour guide to go by. I felt like we got to see so much more that way.

We secured the best babysitters possible-(two loving set of grandparents) for the rest of the kids. My parents for the first week, and Aaron’s parent’s for the second week plus a few extra days to visit once we got back. After all the meticulously planning of shuttles and overlapping airline schedules, schedules for the kids, clean church clothes, and what seemed like a hundred other things, I finally felt like I could stop planning, and start enjoying. London England Day 1 blog-34London England Day 1 blog-1

Our flight from Atlanta was an 8 hour overnight flight, which turned out being perfect for us to adjust to the different time zone. We felt pretty rested by the time we got there, but I was having a hard time after the flight and felt really sick. I was grateful for our schedule because at that point I didn’t really remember or care about anything. We ended up taking a different but faster train to Paddington station where we were able to catch the tube that stopped within 3 blocks from our hotel, and were lucky enough to be able to check in early. I asked Aaron for a blessing because I felt REALLY rough at that point. I rested for a few minutes while the Aaron and the kids freshened up, and ate a few snacks we had brought with us. Luckily, we had figured in a bit more time then we needed so we weren’t too far off schedule by the time we left the hotel.

London England Day 1 blog-2London England Day 1 blog-3

Our first stop was to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

London England Day 1 blog-4London England Day 1 blog-8London England Day 1 blog-11London England Day 1 blog-27London England Day 1 blog-28

I just loved all the details on the buildings-really amazing!

London England Day 1 blog-7London England Day 1 blog-6London England Day 1 blog-12London England Day 1 blog-10London England Day 1 blog-9

It felt like at every turn we would see a new angle of Big Ben and would stop to snap a picture of it.

London England Day 1 blog-24London England Day 1 blog-13

Because the first weekend of our trip happened to land over Easter, the touring hours for Westminster Abbey was pretty specific. We wanted to make sure that we had time to see it, so we made sure it was at the top of our list. The outside was filled with tiny little details and the almost 1000 year old church had so much history in it. I’ll admit by the end I couldn’t keep straight all the kings and queens that were buried or honored there, but it was a pretty impressive site.

London England Day 1 blog-22

London England Day 1 blog-14London England Day 1 blog-15London England Day 1 blog-23London England Day 1 blog-16London England Day 1 blog-18London England Day 1 blog-20

Although there were no pictures allowed inside of the church , there was a beautiful courtyard just outside. I loved the stained glass windows and gothic arches that lined the walls of the walkways.

London England Day 1 blog-19London England Day 1 blog-17

Love my sweet 14 year old.

London England Day 1 blog-26

Don’t let that sunshine peaking through the archways fool you, it was so COLD there. We thought that Spring Break would be a safe time to stroll through Europe, but unfortunately spring had a late showing there this year and we were greeted with very cold temperatures. The highs most of the days we were in London were in the 30’s and would drop to the 20’s at night.COLD! Coming from Georgia, we were pretty much freezing the entire time we were there. We bundled up with all the layers we could find, and Brianna found out that a scarf really isn’t just for looking cute it. Major utilitarian use for those things. We really are so spoiled in Georgia.

London England Day 1 blog-21London England Day 1 blog-25

The London Eye is located just around the corner from the Westminster Abby, and lucky for us we had already purchased tickets online to take the 6:30 ride. We bypassed the long line out in the cold and were able to walk right on. The giant ferris wheel goes around once and takes about 30 minutes. The views were really quite spectacular, and we were glad for a nice warm place to defrost for awhile. At 443 feet high, it is the highest public lookout point in London. It was nice to have a place to sit down (since I was still feeling a bit sick) and get a beautiful overview of the whole city.

London England Day 1 blog-5London England Day 1 blog-32London England Day 1 blog-33 London England Day 1 blog-29London England Day 1 blog-31London England Day 1 blog-30

When we reached the very top, we had views from the highest point of this great city. Even though the London Eye was built in 2000, and meant to only be there for 5 few years, it has kept its popularity, and for us was really worth the ride to the top. We were lucky to have a pretty clear day and could see all the way down the Thames river and most of the city.

London England Day 1 blog-37

London England Day 1 blog-36

If we thought we had seen amazing views of the Houses of Parliament earlier, we were wrong. The views from the London Eye at sunset were so beautiful. It way pretty cool to slowly descend on the Ferris wheel as the sun was setting too and watch Big Ben and the whole complex of the Houses of Parliament light up.

London England Day 1 blog-35London England Day 1 blog-40London England Day 1 blog-41London England Day 1 blog-42

London England Day 1 blog-43

As we were nearing the end of our trip around, the mere mention of having to return to the cold elicited looks like this….

London England Day 1 blog-38

…and this. We were all enjoying the warmth a lot, and the thought of having to venture out in the cold again was less than thrilling for us. I think the only consolation was that we were starving and the thought of some good food was worth a cold nights walk to find it.

London England Day 1 blog-39London England Day 1 blog-46

We took one last look across the river at the lit up banks of the Thames, stopped for yet another picture of Big Ben (can you really have too many?) and ventured out for dinner.

London England Day 1 blog-45London England Day 1 blog-47London England Day 1 blog-44

The restaurant we had chosen online before we left for dinner was an Italian place a little bit north of town near Regents park. The mild suggestion to make a reservation was forgotten, and even on a Thursday night in low season, it was booked. We headed down the street looking for anything that looked remotely good, and found a great little pub with quick service and spot right at the counter. We got a front row view of our chef making our pizzas and popping them into the wood burning oven. I was pretty much smitten-talk about atmosphere.

London England Day 1 blog-49

Brianna and I ordered a mozzarella cheese pizza, and Aaron and Austin order one with some type of pork on it.(below) We swapped pieces so we could try them both, and  left that place full and very satisfied. By the time we made it back to the hotel we were dead tired. Our short night was catching up with us, and I think our weary feet must have walked 5 miles that day (really nothing compared to the days to come). As we dropped into bed that night, the whole day seemed a little surreal for me. I couldn’t believe we were actually here. It made all the long hours of planning so worth it, and to be with Aaron and my two oldest kids-just the four of us, was the best part.

London England Day 1 blog-48


Sharry said...

Dre + Drew - Pacific Northwest Living - DuPont, WA said...

I cannot wait to see more of your beautiful photos of Europe great photos in London!! I think Lisa, You and I should plan a little weekend somewhere in the US when Lisa gets to COLORADO in the next few years. I would love to see you girls. It was fun seeing you two together in Europe.

Lisa said...

Beautiful pics, Monae. Love them all!