Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Castles, Cathedrals and the Coast

London Eye
Canterbury Cathedral
Leed's Castle

Bright and early, we hit the ground running today!  We left the b&b at 7:15 am to catch our tour bus for the day.  First stop was Leed's castle.  This castle was built in 1050 and its first resident was Henry III.  It was passed down through a number of others, including Henry VIII!!  Close your eyes and picture what you think a Medieval Castle would look like.  I am pretty sure you are thinking the giant castle, with a drawbridge and a moat, flags flying from the top that look like crowns...well, you just imagined Leed's Castle!!  It was everything I have seen in history, in the movies and imagined in my mind.  It was fascinating!  It had 24 rooms, wine cellar, library, dining hall, painting rooms, and many others.  It was really unbelievable and almost surreal to walk through something that is almost 1000 years old!  Leed's was phenomenal!!

Back to the bus for a tour down to the English Channel.  We were able to get out on the pebble beach in front of Dover Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover.  This is the start of the English Channel between Great Britain and France.  It was cold, foggy and misty down on the coast...exactly what you would picture!!!

Next stop was Canterbury Cathedral.  Before we toured the Cathedral, we had a most popular English meal, fish and chips.  It was delish!  We made our way toward the 12th century Gothic Cathedral where St. Thomas Abeckett was killed by Henry VIII, and then became a martyr for Christian people.  This castle just blew my mind.  The hours, months and years it took to construct this immaculate building is just incomprehensible.  Seeing the intricate stained glass and carved stone and marble, is more than one can fathom.  Words cannot describe...

Leaving the Cathedral, we arrived in Greenwich, which houses the Royal Navy Barracks, Maritime Museum and other interests.  We toured the Navy Mess Hall and stood at the Prime Meridian 0 Longitude.  How cool to be at zero longitude?!?!  After a quick stop in Greenwich, we rode a catamaran under the Tower Bridge and the famous London Bridge.  After docking at the London Eye WHARF (ware house at river front..we learned this today!!!) we actually went of the giant ferris wheel called London Eye and were able to see the city of London from a 360, couple of hundred feet high view.  It was breathtaking. 

We caught the train home and relaxed at the house to unwind from our long day of eventful sightseeing! 

Just the Beginning...

Westminster Abbey

Big Ben
Buckingham Palace

Last night was a late I am going to post for yesterday and today!!  Lucky you!!  

Tuesday September 22nd...

We started off our day with breakfast and coffee outside on the patio.  We were able to sit and enjoy the fresh cool air and have a slow relaxing morning.  After getting ready for the day, we were excited and anxious to hit the city!  We took a bus and then the tube (subway) to downtown London.  After picking up our London Passes and figuring out our bearings, we headed down towards Buckingham Palace.  On our way, we watched the Queen's Military band march and play down the street.  We then walked a little farther and saw the magnificent Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth calls her home.  The line to get in to see the palace was extremely long, so we decided to do the palace tour another day.  We made our way down to a small outside cafe and had lunch there.  Then we toured the Queen's Gallery where pieces from different collections are was really amazing.  Lots of art from the great Masters and hand painted china collections.  Also, there was a 94 karat diamond pendant on display.....hello?!??!

After touring the gallery, we headed down just a little way to the Buckingham Mews.  This is where the carriages, horses and stables are that have carried/carry the past and present King and Queens of London.  We saw the carriage Princess Diana was married in, the current carriage the Queen rides in, as well as the famous golden carriage that requires 8 horses to pull!!!

Leaving the Mews, we made our way over to Westminster Abbey.  This was a sight to see for sure.  Absolutely breathtakingly beautiful....and Big Ben....there is just something about seeing these in person that is far more gratifying than any book, postcard or story can tell!  We toured Westminster Abbey for almost 2 hours...just learning the history it holds.  The Abbey dates back to the 12th century, it is Gothic style architecture and also serves as a burial ground for past Kings, Queens, Archbishops and other poets and historical figures.  We saw the original coronation chair that has been used for 38 coronations, and is still used to this day!!

Leaving Westminster, we took the red double decker bus to Trafalgar Square.  We did a little shopping, watched a lifesize chess tournament in the middle of the square and enjoyed just being there.  Saleri, an Italian restaurant, is where we had dinner before our first Theater experience in London.  It was a tiny but adorable little place and the food was outstanding!

After cheesecake and cappuccino's we made our way to Savoy Theater for Dreamboats and Petticoats.  It was an enjoyable show, set in the 60's with some of the greatest music from that time period.  Its so strange to hear the actor's with their British accents when they talk, but lose the accent then when they sing.  After taking 2 tube trains and a bus ride, we finally made it back to the B&B......and crashed!!!  

It was a fabulous day, and we had a blast...not sure it can get much better than this!!!!!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cheerio From Across the Pond

At last...we finally made it! Mom, Kim and I have been planning this girls trip to London for a few months now....and we are finally here!!! I decided to use my blog as a journal to document

all the fun things we are doing on our 9 day vacation!!!

 Yesterday, the three of us boarded a plane in Houston, and after a long restless 9 hour flight, arrived in London this morning at 7:30am. We caught a taxi to Notting Hill to our quaint shabby chic bed and breakfast, tucked in the most adorable neighborhood. As soon as we arrived, we met our host Holly and she showed us around our place. Since not one of us got a wink of sleep on the plane, we freshened up and took a 3 hour much needed nap.

After waking up, we were ready to see London!! We walked to Kensington area, had cappuccino and people watched for about an hour.  We sat outside at an adorable cafe and just took in the sights and sounds.  Then we strolled down Portabello Street which has eclectic boutiques, open air markets and all sorts of pubs and cafe's.  Kim made the first purchase of the day, a journal from AppleTree Boutique to record our trip.  We made our way up and down Portabello and decided we needed food and rest.  We stopped and got a pizza and walked back to our B&B, ate outside on the back porch and then took a stroll around the neighborhood park.  Mom, in her best Texas accent told a man walking his dogs, "You have beautiful dawwwgs!"  He said, "Excuse me?" because he could not understand what she was saying.  Kim and I got a kick out of that!!

We are now back at the b&b, getting cleaned up and ready for bed.  Tomorrow we are headed in to the city for more adventures...we are so excited!  Lots of sightseeing and fabulous times await us!!  Till tomorrow......