London was amazing. We absolutely loved that city and would love to go back someday, preferably when I’m not almost 35 weeks pregnant…
We left Thursday morning to drive down to Venice to catch our flight to London. I cried on the way to drop Abbie off with our friends and while we were dropping her off. Grrr. I tried to keep it together, but couldn’t. Maybe someday…
FYI: if you fly the budget airlines in Europe (Easyjet, Ryanair, etc), they require you to have a doctors release allowing you to fly up until you’re 36 weeks pregnant. After that, they won’t let you fly. I had a note from my doctor in the States and I also got one from my doctors here at Aviano too, thank GOD. I figured it was just a formality incase anything went wrong. Nope. Every single airline personnel we encountered asked to look at my letter. And they didn’t just glance at it, they pretty much memorized it and then discussed it with co-workers nearby and asked me to confirm how far along I was and called supervisors. That was going and coming back. It was no joke. So if you fly when you’re pregnant over here, make sure to have the doctors release!
The flight from Venice to London was 1 hr and 45 mins and then it was a 30 min train ride from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station in London. Then we had to figure out our way to our hotel using the Tube (subway), which was pretty easy. Our hotel was only a block from the Lancaster Gate tube stop. We got settled and then set out to find the Hard Rock Café in London. It’s become our tradition to eat at Hard Rock’s throughout Europe since they’re about the only places that you can get fountain Pepsi, and American burgers and a military discount. Then we decided to go on a London by night tour. It was fun being out and about at night. Normally we don’t get to be out after dark because when we have Abbie with us, we’re back at the hotel for her bed time.
(London Museum of Science)
(Harrod’s and Westminster Abbey)
(The London Eye and House of Parliaments)
(St. Paul’s Cathedral)
(The Tower Bridge and Piccadilly Circus)
I will admit, our first day there, I was pretty worried about having a baby in England. I was having cramps/ contractions and was feeling pretty uneasy about it all. The walking was really getting to me and I was so torn between wanting to see everything we wanted to see, but needing to take it easy so I didn’t overdo it. It took some of the fun out of it, but I eventually relaxed some and by Sunday I was handling all the walking around and going up and down stairs in the Tube much better.
Friday we decided to go check out the area by the House of Parliaments and Westminster Abbey. I would have loved to go into Westminster Abbey but it was £16, which equals about $25 PER PERSON, so we didn’t feel like spending $50 to see the inside of a church.
These cabs were all over London. All of the cabs are this shape, but most of them are black. I liked the ones with the British flag on them the best.
We decided to take a river cruise from the Westminster area down to The Tower of London, so here are a few pictures from that trip. It was entertaining and informative and we both enjoyed it, despite getting sprinkled on a little bit.
I would have loved to tour the Tower of London, which houses the crown jewels, but it was like £20 per person (so $32) and we only had an hour to tour the museum before it closed. We decided it wasn’t worth it since we didn’t have much time and I was moving pretty slowly, so we wouldn’t have gotten to see much. Maybe next time.
We went back to the room to relax a little and then headed to the Piccadilly Circus area again to have dinner at Bennihana’s. All during this pregnancy, I’ve been craving Japanese food, so it was pretty good. Mark and I shared a meal, like we usually do, which saved us a good $25 or more.
Our hotel was decent, but I guess I was expecting more for what we paid. ($630 for 3 nights) I had issues picking out a place because I wanted someplace nice since it was our one and only kid-free vacation while in Europe (while living here). It was nice, but TINY, as you can see below. The bathroom was so small you could BARELY open the door all the way because of the toilet. And there was mold in the bathroom too, so it smelled horrible, especially to my “Bloodhound-ish” nose. (I always have a heightened sense of smell when I’m pregnant.) It was okay, but I was hoping for something a little nicer for paying $200/night. Welcome to the super crappy exchange rate.
Saturday morning we wanted to check out the Notting Hill area and the Oxford Street area, but we technically didn’t make it to either. Mark got his Starbuck’s fix and then we took the Tube to Kensington Gardens to check out the palace.
On our walk to the Palace, we walked through this neighborhood full of ambassador’s homes. This was probably my favorite part of our visit. This street was GORGEOUS, especially with all the leaves on the ground and the homes were gigantic. Unfortunately there were “No photographs” signs pretty much EVERYWHERE, along with security cameras, so I couldn’t take pictures. Otherwise I probably would have spent an hour taking photos on this walk. I loved it. I snapped these two photos from the street before we actually got in to the gated area.
Kensington Palace is located on the west side of Hyde Park and our hotel was on the street bordering the north side. So we walked through the park after our visit to the Palace, and again, it was one of my favorite parts of our visit. The trees were beautiful and it was fun to see people walking, running, biking and playing games all over the place. And there were dogs off leashes everywhere, which was neat to see. They’d just run everywhere and play with each other and chase squirrels. I loved it.
(Kensington Palace and Gardens)
We did go on a tour of Kensington Palace. They had it done up in some sort of weird fairytale-ish setting with tree branches and stuff throughout the rooms. I would have preferred to just see it normally, without all the weird lights and displays. I would absolutely LOVE to be given free reign in a palace like this and just wander through it and see what it’s like. We only saw a small portion of it, but it was still huge and it was neat to see all the big rooms and intricate details. Even the stair cases were huge – like 8+ feet wide and spirally, so the rooms for the staircases alone were like 3 times the size of our living room. It’s hard to believe places like this were built for just one family. Apparently William and Kate are going to move in to Kensington Palace in a year or two and it’s where Princess Diana lived also.
After our walk through the park, which about killed me since I had to pee so bad, we rested at the hotel for a bit and then headed down to the Victoria Station area to eat at a pub and to see Wicked. I’ve seen at least 10 to 15 professional Broadway shows and Wicked was definitely in my top two. Both Mark and I thought it was excellent. I didn’t really know what it was about, besides the Witched Witch from The Wizard of Oz, but I still had high expectations for it, and it didn’t disappoint. I could have listened to the girl that played Elphaba sing all day. Her voice was amazing. If you ever get the chance to see Wicked, GO!!
Overall, our trip to London was a success and I had fun waddling all over the place. It was so nice to spend time with my husband without having to play the parent role also and the trip just refreshed my memory as to why I love him so much. We have so much fun traveling together and I love how relaxed and at ease I feel with him. He makes me laugh more than anyone else and we laughed a lot on our trip. It was great to reconnect with him before we become a family of 4 (plus 2 weina dogs).