Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Final Post Europe 2018

I am sitting on a plane making my way back to good old America. This will be my final post for Europe 2018. Wow…what a trip. It was the first time I traveled with Annelies and Paradis to Europe, and I would say it was fantastic. They are perfect traveling companions, and I’m not just saying that because they are my daughters. They are organized, yet relaxed…adaptable, as situations so often require with travel…excellent navigators…constantly aware of their surroundings…open to learning new things…excited about an adventure…and it appears at times they like me. 

Having two full weeks to transverse our way through London and Paris was perfect. We covered a lot of ground during the fourteen days, but it was enjoyable. We took the time to laugh, and explore, and just sit back and relax.

As with every year of my life, 2018 will be filled with change. I do not have any trips booked, but I would like to take my annual journey south while Minnesota remains cold, and I would love, love, love to get to Australia if my budget can handle it. I also have New York Hamilton tickets for August, so that may turn out to be a long weekend this summer. 

For my statistic fans…

  • Land Miles: 594
  • Airline miles: 8,018
  • Steps: 159,680
  • Miles: 62.9
  • Flights of Stairs: 298
  • Chocolate Croissants: 13 (that is just MY count)
  • Lost Oyster Cards: 1 (again…me)
  • Unscripted Conversations with my Children: 1,292
  • Current views: 46,567
Thanks for following me my friends. Each one of you encourages me to keep up on writing this blog during my travels even when I’m bone tired, and I cannot tell you how much I love looking through this thing months and years past each adventure. 

Happy travels!
Blogger in her Happy Place

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Day Thirteen: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Lacock & Bath

Day thirteen of Europe 2018 started very early with a 6:30am departure. We made our way to Victoria Coach Station and got on board a bus that would transverse us over 300 miles in England.

Our first stop was Windsor Castle. We stepped inside the church that will host the royal wedding this May. We were even fortunate enough to catch the changing of the guards. I love bagpipes.

Next stop was Stonehenge. It was cold. Very cold. This was our coldest day while here, but the skies were clear which was nice.

Next stop was Lacock, a small town that makes you feel as if you are taking a step back in time. They filmed many movies here because of that, including Pride & Prejudice and Harry Potter.

Next was Bath, where we visited the Roman Baths. These photos do not do it justice, as it was just beautiful all lit up at night.

A Church in Bath
We returned late that evening. It was a lovely day touring a bit of the countryside.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Day Twelve: St Paul's Cathedral, Globe Theater, Tims & Rat Pack

Day twelve of Europe 2018 began with a trip to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We strapped on a couple audio tours and made our way around the huge church. it is big.

 To get to the top you have to climb 528 steps...and so we did. Paradis doesn’t dig heights, I am claustrophobic, and Anna doesn’t enjoy exercise so this was a challenge for us. But we made it. Check out Anna’s time lapse video.

Top of St. Paul's Cathedral
Hold on Tight Little Girl

After the Cathedral we needed a snack so we stopped at our friend Mickey D’s. It was the most beautiful McDonalds We had ever seen. 

We walked across Millennium Bridge to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. This is a copy of the original, but it was amazing to be inside. 

Paradis has been talking non-stop about a pair of “Tim’s” so she bought a pair. 

On our last free night in London (tomorrow we are on a tour) we wanted to catch another show. We chose Rat Pack. Let’s just say we didn’t go back in after the intermission. But it was a fun evening in London.

We walked 5.6 miles and climbed 49 flights of stairs today. 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Day Eleven: Piccadilly & Hamilton!

Day eleven of Europe 2018 is the original reason for planning this see Hamilton. I purchased tickets one year ago, and when I did it seemed like an eternity away.

We all slept in and enjoyed the morning. We made our way to Piccadilly and did some shopping.

Piccadilly Square
From there we went to Victoria Station. Immediately upon exiting you see this...Victoria Palace Theater. It is absolutely gorgeous.

We went to a local pub for a bite to eat and a few drinks (they seem to like gin here), and returned to the theater for the show.

At Hamilton!

I had an extra ticket due to Renata not being able to join us. They use a paperless/credit card system to avoid after-market sales, and I loved it. It stops resale of tickets, which frustrates me to no end. I completely agree with an open market but I so wish those that put work into the show would get that extra money. How it works is you use the credit card you purchased your tickets with to enter the theater. Cool. Anyway...I had to sell one of my tickets and they wouldn't let me sell it directly to someone outside. So one of the box office people escorted me to the Return Queue and basically auditioned it off. The guy that bought it, giving cash directly to me, was a lighting designer here in London. It was fun to talk with him about his thoughts about Hamilton. Hamilton is of course a story about America, and it was interesting to be in the audience with a bunch of Brits who of course we went to war with to become independent.

As for the show itself, it was amazing. Paradis and I saw the original cast (yes, including Lin himself) in New York March of 2016. I was worried I would be disappointed, but I wasn't at all. The cast was spectacular, the set is simplistically stunning, and the choreography is mesmerizing.

We got back on the Underground for a return trip home, and again saw America in their Evening Standard. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Day Ten: London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, House of Parliament and Jamie

Day ten of Europe 2018 started with this blogger oversleeping. I was wearing ear plugs, and didn't hear my alarm (which was going off for forty-five minutes!). We still managed to get to London Bridge at 9:30am. The self-paced tour was actually really enjoyable. It is amazing to learn about the building of these engineering feats.

The most entertaining part was lying on the glass insert in the middle of the bridge. Notice the first photo with both girls clearly 'on the edge' of the glass. They were refusing to join me despite the signs stating "this holds six elephants". Check out the video showing how reserved Annelies was about getting on the ground with me (and notice at the end when I said "this feels good" because it felt great to be lying down!).

Tower Bridge London
Next we made our way to Buckingham Palace to see the guards. It was windy, and cold.

We went to a park to have a picnic (we packed our own food). People were obsessed with the one squirrel we saw; they kept taking pictures. It was hilarious.

She gets tired of my photos
Obsession with the Squirrel
Annelies hated the pigeons and we had to leave early because they wouldn't leave...
...Paradis was trying to make friends with them.
Next we made our way to Houses of Parliament. It took us nearly an hour to simply pick up our reserved tickets, and make our way through security. For a funny story about our security experience, check out the quote wall. We had a bit of time to kill, so we stopped the cafe for tea, hot chocolate and chai.

The guided tour with Amanda was absolutely fabulous. We learned so much, and to see the inside of the Parliament which I have seen only on video was amazing. I wish I could have taken photos, but the beautiful window from inside the bathroom (no lie) will have to do. Can you imagine how amazing the rest of the tour was?

On our way home via the Underground I saw everyone reading the Evening Standard. Check out the headline...I cannot escape from American politics. Ugh.

Our apartment is near a Dominos and the girls have been talking about getting it nearly every night. I try not to eat chain American food while in another country, as that is always available. Tonight I broke down. They were both very happy (and despite their happiness, they are still tired of me taking photos).

We ate some good greasy pizza, garlic bread, potato wedges (a think in England for Dominos) and chocolate cookies. Yum. We changed, and made our way to Apollo Theater to see Everybody's Talking about Jamie. Oh. My. Word. What a show! It was absolutely fabulous! Great message, fabulous acting, and amazing set.

Day ten ended with me falling into bed without brushing my teeth (and that is huge). I've got some sort of hip issue that I've been in deniable about for a few months now, and this trip has been challenging. The girls are tired of me saying "slow down, my hip is killing me". Today we walked nearly seven-and-a-half miles, which included forty-five flights of stairs! But we have four days remaining, so my hip will just need to absorb some ibuprofen and suck it up.