Sunday, September 23, 2012

We are finally back from our trip! It lasted a little over two weeks, quite a long time to be away from home for me. My husband and I traveled to death yesterday changing three flights from Santorini to Athens to London to LAX. From the time we left our hotel in Santorini early in the morning at 5 AM to when we got in our house, a whole 24 hours went by. By the time we picked up Kelly from our friend's house and had dinner, we were so sleep deprived that we could barely walk or talk. Was is worth it? Absolutely! I loved traveling and I think we will try to do more of it from now on! So now I want to share some pictures of our trip and document it while the memory is still fresh!

When we got married last year, with moving to a new house, having a wedding in China (nuts!) and receiving relatives and hosting new house parties, we completely ran out of both time and money to have our honeymoon, since these things require planning and we were so planned out, the honeymoon trip took place this year.  Actually things were not any less chaotic when we left our house this year than last, but we just went for it anyway!

When we arrived in London, I immediately forgot how to speak English since I didn't have the British accent that everyone around there seemed to carry. Our hotel was in the Covent Garden, not necessarily a family neighborhood because I saw mostly very young working professionals in their 20s and almost no kids. It was quite convenient to take the Tube everywhere, it seemed to be the preferred form of transportation for Londoners, so that was what we did aside from coming from the airport. The city has a way faster rhythm than LA, and it was also very exciting. We arrived at our hotel in the early afternoon, not wanting to waste anytime, we headed out immediately to see sights. We visited museums that day and after heading back to the hotel to freshen up in the evening, we head out to search for some dinner. The thing I noticed about London and also Paris is that it can be quite unpleasant to be on a major street with all the noise and traffic, but if you turn into the small alleys you quite often discover a string of cafes and shops, adding in that the surrounding buildings are so very old and full of history, it instantly becomes a magical place!
That first evening we had Indian curries for dinner and walked on those old cobble stone streets dimly shiny reflecting the street lamps. After dinner we looked at shop displays, ( everything closes way early) and found a British pub, or as they just call it in London, a pub. We sat among Londoners and watched people having a jug of beer at the end of day and chatting away with friends. It left quite an impression on me, as it was everything I imagined London to be, but better because I was actually there.

It was quite a task to find a breakfast place for Jeff and me. We Californians are used to sitting in breakfast cafes sipping coffee and having some waffles or scrambled eggs, not so in London, or at least not where we stayed. I decided that it would be a good idea to have some London breakfast, after much walking and searching, and found that super cute kitty in the picture above standing by the window sill, we found a very good place with beans and poached tomatoes.  The way coffee works there, correct me if I'm wrong, is that people don't really drink drip coffee. Black coffee is just a small cup of espresso, and white coffee is the general terms of coffee with milk.  Depending on the amount of milk you want, you called it cafe latte or Cappuccino etc. It took me a while to realize what this white coffee business was about, so I thought it was worth mentioning. Coffee everywhere was pretty good though, I have no complaint on that!

In my touristy mind, being in London you have to have fish and chips and at least see the sights once. Certain places like the Buckingham Palace is only open a few months of the year, so it is a good idea to keep these things in mind when you time the trip. I loved the Buckingham Palace, since it is still functioning as a real palace, it is in pristine condition and a great pleasure to visit. We made a half day excursion outside of the city and visited the Windsor Castle, saw the Queen's dollhouse, which was such a inspiration for me to start working on my disgruntled little dollhouse. We also got a tour to the Royal Kitchen in Windsor Castle, there were so few people there that it practically felt like a private tour, which was so enjoyable!

Before we left home I wanted to see a concert of some sort in London. The one we managed to see was a piano recital in Wigmore Hall. It was so funny that one of the piece was composed and originally premiered a hundred years ago or so on the same day in Wigmore Hall. After the concert Jeff and I went to get some late night dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant near by, and the pianist and his friends sat down not too far away from us and had dinner at the same restaurant.

It is quite amazing when we were at some of the restaurants or pubs and saw signs of the restaurant established from the 1800s, definitely not something you regularly see in the U.S.

Dinning out in general though, seemed extremely expensive. It is twice as expensive to eat in London as it is in the U.S., so we didn't see restaurants packed like in densely populated cities such as San Francisco.

Before our trip in London draw to a close, we visited a few shops and I snatched up a little purse in Jigsaw London. A vacation for a girl is not complete without a little shopping, right? But more on that later!

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