london

"for a second fear begins to take over. you're heading so far from home and anything familiar. so far above the water that appears endless. so far from land. i closed my eyes and tried to sleep but my mind races. i think i love to travel because deep down, its terrifying. its scary to head to a place where you're completely thrown out of your routine. your language might be worthless. no one knows your name or face. if you get sick, you won't know a doctor to call. i'm such an adrenaline junky that i think all the fear makes me love it all the more.i laid my head down again to try to sleep and look out the window to the dark sky. i faintly see a line that i know is the ocean horizon...then i look up and see the stars. my stars. following me. the same stars i can see from my windows at home...my little piece of home is following me and the world doesn't seem so big now."

i jotted that down on my flight on the way over to europe last saturday. a little free association i guess. cal's dad and step-mom gifted us kids with an 8 day trip to london/paris for christmas. we have been looking forward to this trip for months. it's also the longest we have ever been gone from the kids and thanks to some AMAZING people in our life, we were able to leave the kids without worrying about them. i had never been to england but had been to paris and LOVED it. cal had been to both but wasn't thrilled about going back to paris. he told me how much he hated it when he went as an 18 year old with another guy friend of his. he ate and mcdonalds while he was there and even got robbed. not exactly my kind of paris trip. haha. he remembered everyone treating americans terrible and no one speaking english. i had a very different experience from that and tried to tell him to have an open mind. 

so we get to london at 5am sunday after flying all night long (with no sleep) and we take the train to our hotel at st. pancras kings cross. i later learned the the london bombings in the underground were all from trains leaving this station...crazy...glad i didn't know that while we were there. sunday was a wash because we hadn't had any sleep. we were in the weird "do you stay up and go to bed early or do you take a nap" phase. we decided to do a little of both. power nap and an early dinner so we could get some rest. i loved our hotel, they even had american plugs in part of our room! so accommodating. the restaurant was GREAT and the drinks were awesome too..we had our dinner the first night there. then we headed across the street to a local pub. apparently if the tap doesn't say ice cold, your beer isn't going to be cold. i learned a hard and hot lesson.

monday we all headed out together to see the london hot spots. first stop was buckingham palace and we actually just happened to walk up on the changing of the guards. really neat. we walked from there through the park and to westminster abbey... i LOVE (I MEAN LOVE) kate middleton and wills, so it was neat to tour the church where they got married. i took the whole day off to watch that wedding and it was neat to see in person. its a beautiful church with so much history. also a lot of graves inside the church, which i hadn't seen much of before. after that we went our separate ways from the group. cal and i realized it was our only full day in london and we didn't want to miss a damn thing, so we walked the town and saw it all. we walked 13 miles to be exact haha. we decided super last minute in the late afternoon that we we're going to go see wicked. when cal and i got engaged in nyc back in 2009, i had been DYING to see wicked since it had come out. we tried 2-3 different times on that trip to get lottery tickets (it was like the hype of hamilton at the time) and we never could get any. i was so disappointed. when we saw how much cheaper the tickets were in london, we knew we just had to do it. we ate food in the room to try to make it to the show in time and just barely made it. when the show started i got teary eyed thinking how long i had waited to see this show and how i was now seeing it with my HUSBAND, not fiance, almost 10 years later.... in LONDON. the show left us speechless. as it ended, we both had tears in our eyes. cal told me that he was really just going to the show for me, he didn't care much about it. but he left saying it was the greatest show he had ever seen.. and the crazy part was that elphaba was an understudy! she totally stole the show too. mind blowing.

the real mvps.

the real mvps.

tuesday we were road tripping. our plan was oxford > cotswolds > stratford up avon > possibly over to wales. we ended up not making it to wales but loveeeed seeing the english countryside. in oxford we went to their museum of natural history. the science nerd in me LOOOOVED this stop. most of their exhibits said "please touch" which i thought was fucking amazing. what a great way to learn.... laying your hands on a literal 4.5 trillion year old meteorite... and dinosaur eggs. it was the best museum i have ever been to. everything from mummies, shrunken heads, meteorites (and tons of crystals for my other geology lovers out there), t-rex bones, some of the first guns, to all kind of taxidermy. it was outstanding. 

favorite thing in the whole museum!!!!!!

favorite thing in the whole museum!!!!!!

from there we went through cotswolds (so freaking beautiful) to stratford upon avon. this drive was so crazy because the landscape and vegetation (not any of the structures) looked JUST like east tennessee. if i never saw any of the homes or walls, i would've 100% thought i was driving home from chattanooga. crazy! when we got to stratford we went straight to an english pub called the old thatch tavern and had an outstanding lunch. after lunch we went to see shakespeare's homes and tour the city. its such a cute town set on the river. pretty neat to see buildings that were actual hotels in midieval times.

after stratford we headed back to london...besides the curbs we hit every few minutes, haha!, cal's dad did an awesome job of driving us on the other side of the road! definitely not a job i would've wanted to take on!

william shakespeare's birthplace (april 23, 1564)

william shakespeare's birthplace (april 23, 1564)

hotel from medieval times.

hotel from medieval times.

wednesday we boarded the eurostar train (which goes under the ocean in the english channel!!!!!) to paris!...paris blog (part 2 of our trip) coming soon!

 

xoxo-hannah