Friday, June 6, 2014

And so it begins...London Blog, Summer 2014 Pt.1

Here we are, another summer, another trip to London, and another blog series to share it with all of you. Over the last couple weeks as I prepared to leave Phoenix I received a lot of comments and complements from people saying how much they enjoyed the blog last summer. To all of you I say, thank you! And I hope you enjoy this summer's edition. And to any new readers I have, welcome! I hope you enjoy my adventures and expeditions in fun and madness as I explore more of the city I love and have come to view as a second home, London, as well as visits to Prague and studying in Oxford. It's going to be a very interesting next several weeks for sure!

I've been in London now for two and a half days and have taken my time a bit to get adjusted back to London life, it's a bit different from Phoenix, to say the least. I have yet to break out my Canon DSLR so what follows are snap shots of my trip so far, through the lens of my iPhone. But I'll be sure to get snap happy day after tomorrow when I start exploring Prague. With a little over 11 weeks total that I'll be "across the pond" I'm pretty sure I'm going to break all previous records of how many pictures I can take on a trip. :)

I'll save the commentary for the photos, so let's get right to them.

Enjoy!

First off, I am loving the new British Airways iPhone app, especially the pics that accompany each destination. 
Fortune cookie, how about the next several weeks?

Made a bit of a sneaky purchase a few days before I left. I had a gift card for Sephora and splurged on some mini lip glosses from Bite and an awesome eye shadow palette with eye liner, primer, and mascara from Too Faced. I'll be road testing all of this over the course of the summer. I've already used a few of the Bite glosses and I'm loving them so far.

The day finally arrives!

At the airport, giving all my devices one last top up charge while organizing all my stuff, including the year's travel journal. I also think I spy a stow away. Stay tuned for the continued adventures of the Talking Squirrel in a future blog post. You never know what he'll get up to.

Enjoyed an iced decaf latte. I didn't want caffeine because I was going to be trying to sleep in a few hours but it was so hot the day I left Phoenix, by the time I got to my gate area I needed an iced something. And the barrista was seriously the nicest guy and just what I needed after a fairly stressful previous few days trying to get everything ready to go.

Goodbye Phoenix!

We took off a little late, so by the time we got in the air the sun was down and Phoenix was all lit up.

Barely slept. Checked the Map Your Journey feature and we're getting closer!

Breakfast arrived, and so did tea. Time to fill out my landing card.

"Gets you back to you". Yep, it did. I needed that bit of a boost.

Time to put on some makeup, so I don't totally scare people when we land, while finishing the BBC News. Overall the flight went well, much smoother than past flights. In addition to the BBC News I also watched Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing (I nearly squeed out loud when I saw that as an option! And I definitely laughed out loud at least a couple times.)

Clouds over England.

Making our final approach, with me in the reflection.

So, the black RuMe pouch became my new favorite travel item. I'm going to try to get a "What's in my carryon" post up soon and will explain in more detail then why I love it so much.

London!

So, this was a bit of a wonderful surprise. Normally I think we take a different approach, or it's been cloudy, but for the first time I was able to see Central London out my window. Here you can see the River Thames under the wing.

In the top right corner area of this shot you can see the City with the Gherkin, the Heron, Tower 42, and all the other sky scrapers that make up the City financial area. If you look straight across to the left you'll see St. Paul's Cathedral. And if you look just above the lower edge of the plane window you can see the Shard, the angle is a bit hard to see it in this shot though.

Another shot, St. Paul's isn't visible here but the Shard is a little easier to make out.


Can you tell I was excited by my surprise view?

Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

Hello London!!!

As soon as we landed it started raining. 

Hello! Now time to get to the passport check and then baggage.

Including this shot for my friend Taylor who will be an international student at Middlesex University this fall. I found your meeting point Taylor!

Home at last. View from my new room for the summer. :)

Sitting on the front porch while waiting for Alicia and Alex to get home. It turned into a gorgeous evening by the time I got into town from Heathrow.



So, I'm still enough of an Arizona girl that I got a bit chilly as the sun started to go down. Can we just take a moment to appreciate that I was sitting in front of a lovely fire? In June? Loving it.

I will gladly accept this forecast.

This is the face of a very happy girl about to go say hello to London and do some exploring.



Getting back towards the area I stayed in last summer.


Cut through the One New Change Centre to get to St. Paul's. I love this view of it and the way the Cathedral reflects of the glass.


So, it's definitely cooler than it was last summer, but still, every bench was occupied and by the late afternoon when I passed back by the grass was full of people just hanging out.



St. Paul's from the Millennium Bridge.

Looking east. You can see the Shard to the right and the Tower Bridge in the middle distance.



At the OXO.

Walking along the Queen's Walk.


The National Theatre is going through some construction.

I spy the London Eye!

And Big Ben! I purposely walked in this direction yesterday because I wanted to see both St. Paul's and Big Ben. St. Paul's became a favorite place last summer. And it never feels like I'm in London until I've seen Big Ben. So I was happy to see both of my favorite places on my first full day in London.


Nerd alert. ITV billboard featuring nearly all of my favorite people! :)

So, since I was in the area, I met Alicia for a quick coffee near her office, called Scooter Bar, it had this adorable dog just hanging out in the back, and by the front door in a big baby buggy was a cat all curled up taking an afternoon nap. Loved that place! And their lattes are very good.

Time to reverse the route and slowly head home.


Bob's Lobster, set up in an old VW fan. You can order lobster, crap, ahi tuna, and prosecco. And then sit by the river in a deck chair or hammock. Seriously, you find the coolest things along the South Bank.

It's always fun to watch these guys skate.

Loving the green trees!

On the way back I stopped in at the Tate Modern. I walked around a bit, but while I have an appreciation for contemporary art I really don't understand it. But I did get some awesome views from the upper level. The Tate Modern is a free museums so it's worth it to stop in for a quick look, even if you don't stay that long.

It is a cool building on the inside, and they have a nice little cafe just in from the lobby. I stopped for a bottle of water.


Heading back up Ludgate Hill.

Memorial for the Blitz workers.



Two London icons.

First purchase of the trip. So glamorous. But my new Converse are just a bit long and my heel keeps slipping.

Sitting in the rose garden at St. Paul's waiting for Alicia to pass through on her way home from work.

This is one of two squirrels that were getting so lucky being fed by passing tourists.

So, sitting in the rose garden I was somehow picking up Cloud wifi. It wasn't enough to check Facebook but it was enough to pull emails. I got this one from Twitter. If this is true, it would be epically awesome.

It was warmer earlier but now I'm bundled back up with my coat and scarf. The sun was starting to go down behind the buildings and the wind was picking up.

Day 1. I think I won. :) Day 2 hasn't been as much but I'm pretty confident I'll be able to get to 10k every day.

Day 2 and today I took it a little easier today. By noon I was in Covent Garden. I did a tiny bit of shopping but mostly just looked around. Considering how long I'm going to be here I need to pace myself.

Street performer getting set up.


The first trip to Caffe Nero of many more to come. The iced latte frappes are THE BEST THINGS EVER!!!! And this pain au chocolate was so flaky and fluffy I died and went to pastry heaven.

My view for most of the afternoon.

Caught up on my journal then did some writing on my iPad. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

Walking back to Holborn Station to get the Tube back to the flat.

Heading down into the Underground.

Overall it has been a fantastic couple of days. Now it's time for a quiet evening at home. I think I wore myself out a little bit yesterday and I need some rest before I travel to Prague tomorrow. I'll post again in another few days to catch you all up on what I get up to in Prague with Hannah. 

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