It seems like ages ago that I made the long flight of 3,300 miles to beautiful Dublin, but it has only been 12 days. This vacation is turning into separate parts, it’s almost like living in a book and each part of this trip is turning into very separate chapters.
We are trekking all over Europe and journeyed to London for a few days and exhausted ourselves fully. The term “downtime” does not seem to be in our vocabulary as we spent so much time sightseeing we crashed every night.
Prior to heading to Europe we had booked our accommodation through Airbnb.com which I had never heard of but is incredibly useful. We found what looked like a great studio apartment in a nice area of London. Upon arrival we still had not heard back from the woman we were booking from, we were sitting in the airport, about to get on the plane and had no idea how we were getting the keys. I became increasingly frustrated when she wouldn’t answer back and in true “American fashion” (I say that only because that has been pointed out twice to me now) I sent her a very nice, passive aggressive message. Honestly, it could have been worse. I only said that we were in the airport and were concerned about getting the keys and it would be great if by the time we landed in London we had an answer. This tact seemed to work though, because she responded immediately. Americans, it turns out, know how to get results.
We exited the station and took the “Tube” to Kensington, walked the 2 minutes to a very nice area next to Hyde Park and waited…and waited…and waited. It took waiting a half hour and calling twice to finally have someone come outside of the building to let us in our building and give us the key.
The flat was incredibly small stretching probably only 300 sq. ft. To our left was a small couch, a round table and a counter with a stove top that took a full day and several attempts to figure out how to get it to work. The bed was pushed against a dividing wall that, on the other side, housed a stand up shower a sink and a toilet in the smallest bathroom area I had ever seen. I looked at the flat and thought it was fine until…much to my dismay…I realized I would be going to the bathroom without a door. That’s right folks, I now had the added bonus of worrying about how I would live in a tiny space with my boyfriend and use a toilet that had NO DOOR shielding me from him. It turned into a battle of wills as each morning I insisted he take a walk around the block so I could take care of business. You don’t realize how much you take bathroom doors for granted until the option has been taken away from you.
When we arrived the sun was shining, the sky was blue, the birds were singing…all was well with the world. After dropping our bags off in our teeny tiny flat, we decided to tour the area. Hyde Park was right next door so we began a leisurely stroll through the green grounds until the rain came. It rained nonstop for the next 3 days. By the end of our walk I had successfully acquired the look of a drowned rat before finally giving in and buying an umbrella.
Our first day we saw Buckingham Palace and were going to see if the Queen was in for a cup of tea but unfortunately no such luck. I saw the guards standing in position and couldn’t help but feel so bad for them, the notice out front said the changing of the guards during the summer was every day at 11 a.m. and during the winter every other day at 11 a.m. That means they are required to stand completely still with no bathroom breaks or food for two whole days. In my opinion it’s just madness, but hey, what do I know.
Unfortunately with the rain coming down in buckets we didn’t see much the first day, it slowed us down and after walking for about 3 hours we had to give in and call it a night. We walked through Leicester Square which looks remarkably like Times Square and is tourist central. We wanted a unique restaurant that was a hidden gem in the area and settled on an Italian place that was as authentic as you get in London. After splitting a bottle of wine and having a delicious meal we caught the Tube back to our stuffy studio apartment and crashed.
Day two involved the big tourist stuff that everyone else travels to London to see. We walked through Westminster and saw the parliament building which from the outside was highly impressive. There was also a statue in the courtyard of one building of Oliver Cromwell who Nicholas said was celebrated in England but for the Irish he is known as the “perpetrator of genocide.” In the mid-1600’s he led an army to pacify Ireland who were rebellious to the English rule and massacred thousands of men, women and children. It was interesting to see how from one country to another, a man who was so hated in Ireland for murdering innocent people was memorable enough to have a statue of himself built in England.
It’s exhausting enough to just think back to that day as we walked from Westminster to see Big Ben who I continuously referred to as “the big guy.” It was great to hear him chime. Then onwards and upwards to Trafalgar Square which is known as the heart of the city. A large water fountain was in the middle of the square with statues in and around it. Nicholas has a strange obsession with lions, so it was fairly comical to see him yell “LION!” at the massive lion statues that were scattered around the square.
The London Eye would have been on my list of top things to do but we were running out of time and could only walk past the ferris wheel that stretched towards the sky. There is so much to see and do in London and 4 days, it turns out, just is not enough time. We walked down to Shakespeare’s Globe not realizing the tours were scattered and by the time we stood outside the old thatched building our time was limited, we had somewhere we had to be.