Arrrrgh. I've been trying to upload our vacation pictures but it's starting to drive me crazy. From the slow uploads, to the sites throwing the pictures out of order, to the total upload limits. Arrrgh. So although I'm sure you're all in agony waiting to see our vacation pictures, you'll have to wait a wee bit longer.
In the mean time, I thought I'd write a little bit about our trip, beginning with our first three days, which we spent in England. We left on a Friday evening -- running a wee bit late for our plane. We flew on Virgin Atlantic, which we loved. We didn't sleep much on the overnight flight but we were determined to make the most of our first day in London. We couldn't check into our hotel, a small place a half block from Marble Arch, right away, but we were able to drop off our bags, change clothes and brush our teeth! Then we hit a nearby coffee shop for breakfast and caffeine. We jumped on the tube and made our way to St. Paul's Cathedral. I have a huge soft spot for St. Paul's because when I lived in London, my dorm room looked across the Thames right at the cathedral's enormous dome. So I was happy to see it again. We wandered around the grounds and headed inside only to discover there was a 10 pound charge to look around! So we took a quick glance while backing out of the ticket line. If you don't know, the exchange rate between dollars and pounds is lousy right now. A pound costs nearly $2, so our visit would have been $40! We looked around the crypt (free) and then set off in search of Rob's ancestor -- Sir Rowland Hill.
Rob is a distant relation of the legendary British postmaster. Fortunately, the St. Paul's gift shop worker we asked just happened to be an expert on Sir Rowland Hill and pointed us precisely to the nearby statute of him. We were so excited to take a picture of Rob in front of the statute but a giant truck was parked right in front of it. Unbelievable! But we were able to angle a couple pics around it a bit. Then we jumped in a taxi to see a few sights by car -- we drove down the Strand, home of the Savoy Hotel and the Royal Courts of Justice; we drove through Trafalgar Square; and we ended up at Parliament and Big Ben. We stared across the river at the London Eye, which was new to London since I lived there way back in 1998-99! Then we walked across the street to Westminster Abbey, one of my favorite places in the world. You really have to see it to believe it, and I was thrilled that Rob was equally impressed as I always am. You are just swimming through history there, with the tombs and memorials of kings, queens, poets, scientists, and great people known and unknown around every corner. We even found the memorial bust for Sir Rowland Hill!
We were a little rushed though because we had a lunch date with my friend Philip, my favorite friend from my LSE days. We hadn't seen each other since Philip's wedding in Monroe, Lousiana, to the lovely Ashley in the spring of 2005. We got to see Philip and Ashley and their baby Blair (so beautiful) at a great pub in their neighborhood on the north side of London. I was really excited for Rob and Philip to get to know each other a bit more, as I've always thought of them as kindred spirits, especially in their football-loving ways. (Philip loves the Broncos as much as Rob loves the Giants.) We had a fantastic time and I was thrilled to learn that Philip and his family are moving to Atlanta soon, so hopefully it won't be another two years until we see them again. I can't believe Philip is a dad -- I can't believe we're all grown up! I knew Philip back when he had a tongue ring. In fact, when my friend Erica and I set out to get navel piercings in NYC several years back, it was Philip I called for a piercing salon rec. Now he's an investment banker, a husband, a dad, and about to live in the Atlanta suburbs. But he's still wicked cool. :)
After lunch, we checked into our hotel, showered and napped. Mmm sleep. Then we headed back out to the new Tate Modern, just steps away from my old dorm in Southwark but it was still under construction when I was there. We got there by way of the Millenium Footbridge, which was pretty cool at dusk, despite the steady drizzle. The Tate was great and had a cool exhibit on cities around the world. After the museum, we wandered over to my dorm where the light in my old room was on! And I was FLOORED to see a Starbucks next door. Back in the olden days, there was nothing at all nearby, certainly not hot caffeinated beverages! Then it was off to a gastropub for dinner, which was divine, especially the cold pea mousse. Seriously. This vacation was all about sleeping on the cheap but eating freely, and we did that particularly well our first night in London. We walked from the gastropub for about 20 minutes through the Knightsbridge area and past Harrod's. Then we headed back to the hotel and hit the sack as exhaustion was setting in!
Whew! I'm not sure I can keep up with this level of detail, nor that it's very interesting... but at least this lets you know why we were so exhausted when we got back from vacation. So much to see, so little time, and Type A Katherine taking the touristing helm. Tomorrow I'll try to post some pictures and some of the highlights of the rest of our trip. No promises on the pictures though. The internet seems to hate me right now.