Thursday, April 15, 2010
Aaron, Cali, Ian, my taller brother, Caleb and I decided to dash off to London, England for a little vacation. (Really, Aaron had to work and we decided to try to sneak into his luggage!)
When we arrived in Heathrow Airport on Easter Sunday, we were greeted with some unexpected news. Amar, the owner of the apartment we had PREPAID for, met us in his mini van and said, "Welcome to England. Unfortunately, I have some HORRIBLE news. The 2 bedroom apartment you booked is occupied by some other tenants."
Did we just arrive in London after an 18 hour travel day and find out we were going to be homeless?! Luckily, Amar had an alternative. "I've got this one bedroom apartment that I'm fixing up right now that you can stay in! Hop in the van. I'll drive you past the 2 bedroom apartment you were supposed to stay in so you can see it, and then I'll take you to the new one bedroom fixer upper I'm going to put you in."
Our hands were tied.
We went to the apartment that had a list of things wrong with it:
Filthy blue carpet
an electric shower that either scorches you or freezes you
a toilet that splashes up and out onto the floor everytime it's flushed
a washer/dryer combo that takes over 3 hours for a teensy load
a bed with a plastic cover on it that makes you have hot flashes
Amar looked at our sad faces as we looked around at the place and said, "Remember. I'm going to give you 80% of your money back and I'm going to bring you a cot!"
Woo Hoo! Somehow the 80% refund made the dirty blue carpet look a little bit brighter. So, Surprise, surprise. We decided to stay.
Welcome to England!
Aaron and Ian crashed on the sweat-inducing bed for 3 hours while Caleb, Cali and I decided to explore. After walking around for an hour and a half, we discovered some comfort food at McDonalds and then headed back to the apartment to see if the 3 of us could squeeze onto the futon. For some reason, Cali decided to sit in a straight backed chair instead of joining Caleb and I on the futon for a nap!
After our nap, we headed to The Tube (the underground railway system we spent most of our vacation on). Caleb (who turned out to be brilliant as a tour guide) led us to Westminster Abbey for our first glimpse of History book English architecture. When Ian caught sight of the Abbey, he said, "This is the coolest thing I've seen in my whole life."
We found an Italian restaurant with yummy looking desserts in the window to try for dinner. When we sat down, the owner, in a thick Italian accent said, "What you like to drink." Some friends of ours had clued us in that if you want FREE WATER you have to specify that you would like TAP WATER.
We all looked at each other. None of us wanted to say, "We'd like tap water please. All around." Finally, after a moment of uncomfortable silence, Aaron said, "Tap water, please."
The owner shook his head. "No tap water. Still or sparkling." We all looked at each other. What did he say?
"Tap water!" Caleb repeated.
"No! Still or sparkling."
"Well, we don't want sparkling, so bring us the other thing!" Caleb answered. The man ended up bringing us bottles of water that we paid a pretty penny for. We learned our lesson! From then on, we always packed a bottle of water in our backpacks in case we needed a swig during dinner!
After dinner, I headed to the restroom. The toilet in our apartment did not have a good flusher, so I was looking forward to finding a toilet that would flush more than one square of toilet paper. As I got ready to stand up from my seated position on the Italian toilet, I leaned to the right just a bit, and what do you know . . . the toilet (that was to my chagrin NOT bolted down) came completely off the ground. I fell into the wall of the stall with a huge bang. I'm sure I scared the woman in the stall beside me half to death. I righted the toilet, tried to compose myself and ran back upstairs to the restaurant. Could the first day in England get any better?
On Monday morning, Caleb and I went on a jog to Richmond. The views were amazing. We saw sheep grazing, the River Thames, a canoe race, Englishman in boots, and trotted through a muddy bog. It was one of the best runs of my life.
Aaron went to work that day, so the rest of us headed off to Kensington where we met up with our neighbors, the Coopers, at the London Center. It was so fun to visit with them and see familiar faces in a very unfamiliar part of the world. The rest of the day consisted of:
*best Thai food ever at "Tut Tut"
*a stroll through Kensington Gardens
*best gelato we've ever tasted
*Ian fed a swan
*rode an outdoor carousel
*best Indian food ever
All in all -- a great day!
*tour of The Towers (got to see The Queen's Jewels)
*Went to Shakespeare's Globe
*Sat in St. Paul's Cathedral
*pictures at Abbey Road
*ate at Subway (reminded me of home)
*went out for a 15 mile run
*desecrated the grounds near Hampton Court Palace (Runner's Runs you know!)
*got lost and kept running all the way to Sunbury Lock; asked a worker where we could catch The Tube to get back home; he replied, "The Tube?!" We knew we were in trouble!
*tour of Westminster Abbey (hundreds of tombs to look at)
*rode the London Eye (hot and slow moving)
*ate a Wonder Waffle (way overpriced)
*went shopping at H&M
*ate at Subway again
*went to see Wicked at The Apollo Theater (Wow!!)
Went on a tour to see Windsor Castle, Baths, and Stonehendge. Had the most hilarious tour guide! Loved it!
Spent the entire morning traveling to a soccer game. Awesome! They have great fans! Most of them were drunk and sang lots of songs. Very entertaining.
Found a little shopping area in Notting Hill; most amazing shopping in the world!
Flew back to reality! I sure missed Nyah and Carson. Nyah had a blast in Houston, Texas, with her Grandma Joannie. She played with her Cousin Emily NONSTOP in her new treehouse. Carson spent an enjoyable week in California with Grandma and Grandpa Heber where he was visited by the tooth fairy who gave him $12 for his tooth! He's going to be pretty sad the next time he loses a tooth in Utah!