Friday, July 10, 2009

We walked 10.4 miles today.

Not much time to write tonight, as we need to get up super-early tomorrow for a tour of the Highlands and Loch Ness. Today we saw Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles Cathedral, and other interesting things along the Royal Mile. In the evening, we took a really fun literary pub tour. Pics following shortly so I can hit the hay.

P.S. - best B&B ever. Beds and room are awesome, breakfast was amazing, hosts are great. :D:D:D


Un-captioned London:

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Whirlwind recap of London...

We're on the train to Edinburgh right now, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to fill y'all in on our time in London.

We came in early from Paris Monday morning, and the proprietress of our hotel graciously allowed us to leave our bags in our room for the day. We stopped at the local Marks and Spencer Simply Food for some breakfast egg salad sandwiches (which we actually ended up doing for the rest of the time as well), went to the London tourist info bureau to buy London Passes, and headed for the Tower. We spent most of the day there (until 4:45) - having a Beefeater tour, seeing the crown jewels, checking out the three-floor exhibit on Henry VIII (which was sweet), eating at the cafe, and - wait for it - seeing Prince William. He was there randomly for a charity event, and we just happened to be in the right place at the right time to get fairly close to him. Liz got some good pictures - poor kid looks like he's balding already. :P By this time, it started to pour and we were beat (and it was too late to go to anything else by this time) so we went back to the hotel to rest for a second before going to a pub for my birthday. We went to a local pub/restaurant and had some strong, tasty cider and some interesting grub - I got a "poacher's pie" which supposedly had pheasant, wild boar, venison, and rabbit in it, Liz got a shepherd's pie, and Becky got a ham and potato pie (even though she doesn't like ham). Everything was really good, and we ended with some lovely bread and butter pudding and a blackberry/apple crumble. It was a good birthday. :)

Tuesday we checked out Westminster Abbey (where the audioguide was narrated by Jeremy Irons!), went to the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum, had lunch at a pub that was so packed that it took forever to get our delicious food, ran through the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery, and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, picked up some toothpaste and lotion at Boots, and had a cool dinner at a noodle bar called Wagamama. It was another successful day.

Wednesday we had a cool tour at Shakespeare's Globe and a look through the exhibition hall, went over to St. Paul's Cathedral, had a sandwich at M&S, had tea at a place called Tea, ran in at King's Cross station to print our train tickets, checked out the awesome artifacts at the British Library, and went to Kensington Palace to see the state rooms, Diana's dresses, and a cute exhibit about debutantes. We had decided earlier that we had ripped through so much money that we would forgo seeing a musical and instead did some laundry, and finished the day with some grrrreeeeeeeasy fish and chips. Yum. Our room smelled.

Along the same lines as not seeing a musical, we decided not to spend the money to go to Windsor Castle, so instead we ran over to the Tate Modern (terrible), couldn't see anything at Buckingham Palace during the changing of the guard, and ran into the Victoria and Albert Museum. We came back to Victoria Station, got lunch and sandwiches for dinner on the train, got our bags from the hotel, and started getting on the tube at Victoria when they announced that the King's Cross underground station was closed due to power failure and that we'd have to walk from the next closest station. We made it to the train with about 12 minutes to spare - we had to ask someone which train was ours because the announcement boards in the regular station were also affected by the power failure. Whew. It was a close one. The ride has been pretty good - for the first time, we have seats actually facing each other with nobody else around. We should be getting into Edinburgh in about 40 minutes. Hopefully I can get some pictures up soon. Love and miss you all!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


No blog 'til maybe Edinburgh tomorrow night - I'm on the hotel computer since the wi-fi at the hotel is on the fritz. London has been amazing, though, and we're sad to leave tomorrow. Talk to everyone more soon - hopefully pics tomorrow, too!

Love you all!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Last round of Paris pics...

... are here:

Also, it's 10 here and still pretty much completely light. What's up with that? I have to get up in 7 hours!

Last day in Paris...

We packed in some great things on our last day in this fun city! Early on the docket today was the Musee d'Orsay, which was awesome. We got there right before the doors opened, and the line to buy tickets was HUGE! Thankfully, we had Museum Passes, so we got to go right in. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed all of the Impressionism, Naturalism, and just the variety of other things. The Art Nouveau furniture was pretty cool, too. I took very few pictures, unlike everyone else, who - like at the Louvre yesterday - were just running through and taking pictures of absolutely everything. I don't know if they think their pictures are going to turn out well, but I'm going to go with no. Anyway, other than the stupid crowds, we thoroughly enjoyed our three hours there.

We then headed to the Rodin Museum, where we had some overpriced lunch in the garden cafeteria and then headed inside to see the sculptures. There were some *cough* suggestive sculptures that I didn't take pics of, but I did catch a couple of tame subjects. :)

From here, we headed across the street to Napoleon's Tomb and Army Museum inside the Les Invalides complex. We started with the Arms and Armor exhibit, which was interesting, if a bit repetitive. We then spent a large chunk of time in the WWI and WWII exhibits, which were incredibly interesting. Speaking of interesting, I should note here that most of the museums we've been visiting have been made so much more interesting by the self-guided tours from the Rick Steves guidebooks - if you're ever thinking of making a trip like this, you MUST get his books. Hands down.

By the time we were done, it was 5, and we decided that we were tired and hungry and needed to pack everything up - we had kind of unloaded in the room since we were here for four nights. So, we're ready to get up at 5 tomorrow morning, get ready like the wind, have our last breakfast from the corner boulangerie, get to Paris Nord by 6:40ish to check in, and leave for London at 7:13. Au revoir, foreign languages. :P


Parisian girls wear genie pants.

We've walked 112 miles since we've been here. :D Love you all, good night!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Versailles and some typical Parisian sightseeing

Yesterday we spent a good deal of the day at the Versailles complex, and it was lovely. The day started with some delicious pastries from the corner shop, and was quickly plunged into darkness by the terrible woman taking 349587 years to buy tickets at the station... in addition to the Metro, Paris also has a commuter train called the RER that operates in the city and to outlying areas - when you go outside of the city, you can't use your normal transportation tickets, you have to buy a special ticket. Of course, the self-service machines only accept coins (wth), so I had to go to the window. I'm not sure what this lady was doing, but she ended up having a 400 Euro order; the rest of the line was not happy.

So, instead of getting to Versailles around 9:15, we ended up there around 9:45, which was fine; I think that place is probably packed no matter when you go. I don't really have much to say about the palace itself - we had a self-guided tour, the rooms were beautiful, it was a good hour and a half or so. We looked around a bit, got some lunch, then took a little tour through the giant garden, which spit us out by the palaces away from the palace: buildings to let the kings/queens get away from Versailles once the French gov't was moved out there. They were beautiful but arranged in a bit of a screwy way, so we ended up walking around a bit more than we had originally planned. Two fun things in that area were the theater that Marie Antoinette had built so she and her friends could put on plays, and the "country peasant house" complex, complete with dairy and water wheel. We were helped directionally by a very nice local who heard us talking confusedly - she told us to see the theater and we were very grateful for her help!

We had a long walk back to the chateau to get back into town, so we all got a little crispy from the time we spent outside, but it was really a beautiful morning and afternoon. We decided we were too weary to rush right into anything else, so we took the train and the Metro back to the hotel to rest a bit, and then headed back out. We ate at a little restaurant (eh, it was okay), and headed to the Eiffel Tower. We had to wait in line to get through metal detectors and then to buy tickets, but it really wasn't that bad. Our plan was to take the elevator up to the second floor, look around, and then take the stairs down - and that's exactly what we did. We were on the observation platform when the 10 o'clock light show started, and that was really cool. The trip down the stairs was a little daunting, but we ended up being fine. :D

We then made our way back to our neighborhood, which was hopping because it's full of bars and it was Friday night. We got crepes from the place on the corner and came back to the room to collapse for the night. It was a good day.

This morning we got up early and headed over to the Louvre to get there before it opened. We got in really quickly as soon as they opened the gates, and ended up spending - wait for it - almost 5 hours inside. By choice. We saw some cool stuff, and the set-up was very spacious and beautiful. It's still weird to us that the Italian galleries were so cramped and stuffy and everywhere else has ample seating and breezy galleries showcasing the works in a lovely fashion. Anyway, you can see some of the statuary we saw in the Photobucket album - I don't take pics of paintings because there's no point - you can't capture that beauty with a silly little digital camera. By the way, the place was packed full of people who were running around taking pictures of everything and not looking at anything. Also, people's cameras were flashing all over the place, and none of the museum workers said a thing. Italian museum workers are VIGILANT about that kind of thing... "NO PHOTO!" was frequently heard while in Italy.

After our ridiculous run through the museum, we stopped in the Tuileries for lunch, and walked the Champs-Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. We couldn't get close to the obelisk at the Place de la Concorde because they're setting up tons of seating there and all along the boulevard for Bastille Day festivities. The crowd at the Arc was ridiculous, and we were already weary, so we just had a look around and didn't go up. No big loss - we had seen the city from above last night. We sang our national anthem while there, very quietly. :D Back at the hotel, we rested for a bit, then got some Chinese take-out.

We need a break every once in a while, so we took a bit of one this evening. Full day tomorrow for our last day in town, then we leave Monday morning (my birthday) for London. Don't forget to look at the new pics! Happy 4th!