February 21, 2013

London 2.15 - 2.18.2013

February 15
The day started with a trip to Munich, oh joy! The airport! Things went swimmingly there.  No issues at all.  We got on the plane and settled in for our short trip to CDG (Paris).  I saw the Eiffel Tower way off in the distance…I believe that’s as close as I’ll get but that’s okay.  We landed with plenty of time to get through customs, lunch and even smoke.  Customs was silly.  The guy started speaking to Rachel in French.  I don’t recall how or why, but I told him that we were super spies and we were training Taylor to be a spy.  I showed him both of our passports and he ended up stamping all of them.  Not sure how great that is in an “official” passport, but whatever.  After buying lunch I passed Taylor and Kari off to a man wearing a Superman shirt.  I told them that he was a super hero so they’d be safe with him.  He said, “Only if there’s a phone booth nearby…” in his British accent.  It was pretty amusing.  Then we decided he was a super spy, as were we.  It was all pretty great.  Rachel and I went to smoke while Kari and Taylor talked to Superman.  He was heading off on a “mission” and left before we got back.  He really looked like Stone Cold Steve Austin...in a Superman shirt.  At any rate, we hopped onto our connecting flight and headed to Heathrow.  Once we got there things were still smooth.  Customs was a breeze, we managed to get our Oyster Cards with very little hassle.  Then we hopped on the tube.  We had NO idea where to go.  I looked at the map on the wall, I knew that Kensington Olympia was the station nearest the hotel.  So I picked the tube stop nearest to that and we got off there.  BIG MISTAKE.  Just because it looks close on a map of the tube does not mean it is.  Well, that depends on your definition of close.  We were about 2 miles off.  Not a huge deal…except that my rolly suitcase weighed about 40lbs, the carryon was heavy, and Rachel’s bag was no rolly and pretty dang heavy.  Wandering the streets of Chelsea and Kensington…well it wasn’t bad.  We got to see a lot of awesome things.  Including Jaguars, Bentley’s, and Range Rovers…just all over the place.  Parked in the driveways of these amazing townhomes.  HUGE townhomes.  So pretty.  We were definitely in a desirable area of town.  It made the walk nice because we didn’t have to be looking around looking for dodgy characters.  The dodgiest characters were saw were doggies.  Har har play on words.  So we FINALLY got to the hotel.  Our room was on the 8th floor.  Okay, there were only 4 floors including the attic.  But after all that walking? It felt like the 8th floor.  After a short while we figured out that they had given us the wrong room so Rachel and I went downstairs to talk to the staff about it.  She showed us another room on the second floor that was actually our room, she was unsure of what had happened.  So we switched rooms.  Both rooms were great, and honestly, had Taylor not been there…I’d probably have stayed in the first room.  But it was a “shared bathroom” room, so the bathroom was the next floor down.  Us grown up’s could handle that but it kinda freaked me out to think of sending Taylor down and away to potty or shower.  So we switched.  Both rooms were great.  The whole hotel was great.  We were very happy.  We asked the staff where nearby to eat, they told us about a few different places, including a pub on the corner.  Literally 1 townhome and across the street from the hotel.  I sent Rachel in to see if they allowed kids in there…some pubs are weird about that after certain hours.  No problem, Tay was in.  We had delicious amazing food and I drank some kind of delicious local draft beer.  Perfect ending to a pretty good travel day (minus the getting a little lost…thank Steve Jobs for maps on the iPhone).  We went to sleep pretty easily, we were all fairly exhausted but super excited about what the next day would bring.

February 16
This time we found the Kensington Olympia station.  It’s above ground train but goes straight to the underground at Earl’s Court.  From there we hopped on the Piccadilly Line and then switched to the Bakerloo line to that we could hit Oxford Circus.  We were looking for the Disney store, which we found.  It was only a tiny bit of trouble, nothing crazy.  I just kept telling my map that I was driving, which I was not.  Once we figured it out, we were good.  We stopped at H&M and took a picture of Taylor there to send to Danny.  Mostly because he hates H&M.  Taylor ended up getting a really cute outfit there, I did as well…it came in handy later.  After all of that, we were looking for a Claires.  We never did find the Claires in Oxford, but we did meet a beautiful chocolate brown Am Staf/Pit mix named…Yorkshire something.  I can’t remember his full name.  But it was Yorkshire something.  I want to say Pete, but I know that’s not it.  He was such a love muffin!! We seriously spent about 30mins (or more) just loving on him.  He knows tricks and he can dance.  The man was a street magazine salesmen, we bought one of his magazines…but mostly we talked about the dog.  He was a rescue and now lives with the man, goes everywhere with him.  Typically he just lays in his chair there but we were so excited about seeing him and loving on him that he got excited and hopped down to play with us.  He had a touch of arthritis, but he was spry and amazing.  I loved him.  I wish I could have brought him back with me.  He was amazing, so so so so sweet.  Reminded me of Rainbow.  We finally tore ourselves away from the pup and headed to Starbucks for a pick-me-up and some lunch.  I got some sort of iced coffee with 4 shots of espresso…definitely picked up.  I also ate this falafel thing soooo tasty.  Kari and I won the birds, Rachel and Taylor went inside to eat.  But I could not let the birds win!! Damn pigeons.  They were dive bombing us and trying to eat our eyeballs.  But we won!! We finished our food despite the little winged rats.  We found the tube, headed back to Piccadilly.  I don’t know what it is but I really enjoy Piccadilly.  The girls seemed to like it too.  It’s fun, high energy, and…just has this…feel about it.  The problem was we had to pee.  All of us.  We thought our bladders may explode.  There is NO WHERE TO PEE IN PICCADILLY!! Okay, in the tube there is a bathroom but none of us had the 50pence or 1euro to get in.  Stupid monies.  We spot some golden arches.  YES!! No.  There is a guard to the downstairs, where the bathroom is.  Rachel asks him to go down, he lets her.  He won’t let the rest of us.  So we go stand in line to buy something so we can get down there.  He, this bathroom guard, is a Jamaican man…cool accent when it’s mixed with a bit of an English accent.  He comes over and says we can go downstairs.  So we wander over.  Poor Kari was first and he says, “No no, not you, where is my darling? She goes first.” Me, being the smart ass I am, pop around Kari and say, “Here I am!” to which he begins laughing very heartily.  “How did you know I was talking about you?” He asks though the laughing.  “It’s the tattoos.” I shrug.  Cause I know it is, that’s why he let Rachel down in the first place, he saw her tattoos.  So we joke with him for a few minutes, then we go down to pee.  On the way back up he makes the other girls wait, literally parts the crowd of paying customers and grabs my hand and “twirls” me out of the store.  It was freakin’ hilarious.  I started saying I was McDonalds royalty at that point.  We ended up heading to Boots from there – think Walgreens – because I needed something for the pain.  It was creeping up more and more.  I figured it was from all the stairs and walking, no big deal.  I got some Ibuprofen and some Paramedecol or something like that…basically Tylenol.  Then we head to Cool Britannica.  Pretty much my fave souvenir shop…primarily because there are Bulldogs everywhere.  I’m easy like that.  There was a great older man in there dressed up with this crazy crow like bird (stuffed), we talked to him for a bit.  He’s thinking of getting his first tattoo which I highly support of course.  We found lots of good stuff, Danny’s requested tea…another bobble-head Stella…some stuff for Taylor’s friend Chloe...and a couple things for The Bar and The Bar Too.  I also got Gin a silly birthday present, nothing super awesome, just silly.  There was some sort of Love fest of something going on by the statue of Eros (Cupid, basically).  It almost looked like an Occupy London type of thing…but it was definitely more about peace, love and acceptance.  And the whacky tobaccy…that smell was abundant.  We went on the bus tour after that, we sat on the top open part for most of the trip.  It got COLD.  So we moved under.  But not until Kari got tons of great pics.  I got some good pics…til my camera battery died.  Stupid camera.  It was pretty fun though, we were so silly.  We wandered around Piccadilly at the end of the tour looking for food.  Everywhere had a 1 ½ or more wait time…finally I remembered Bella Italia, the place I went with Shannon and her Mom.  We headed there and waited for about 15mins…or less…to be seated.  The food was DELICIOUS.  The table next to ours…they were raging monsters.  The teenage girl was awful.  I wanted to throw things at them, but instead I just offered my services to the server in the form of whacking them with the huge pepper grinder.  Good times.  After the rude family left, a bridal party showed up.  They were so gorgeous, all of them.  It made me want to puke lol.  Then worse, they were SWEET! Rachel told the bride congrats and how cute they were (the bridesmaids were all in pink tutus with pig ears and noses, the bride was in a white tutu with cow ears and tail).  We talked with them for about 30 mins, they were Irish and so sweet.  They told me I looked 20, which was fabulous…then they thought Taylor was 17.  Which was not fabulous.  Dang tall child.  I was wondering if they had applications…in order to hang out with them you had to be hot.  Cause they were all super hot.  On the way back to the hotel we got on the tube…but before doing so there was another magazine salesman that pulled us aside.  He thought that Taylor, Kari, and Rachel were my children.  So I aged about 20 years from the walk from the restaurant to the tube.  He was a very flirty very old alcoholic (drinking wine on the street corner while selling his magazines) and he told me his name was Johnny Too Good.  Rachel was trying to get me to leave but I was amused.  Most British men, especially the older ones, are terrible flirts but completely harmless.  He had thought I was Irish, oddly, but I told him I had a proper British surname.  He asked what it was and I told him, then he said, “Really? You think that’s a proper British surname?” And I said, “Yes, of course.” Then he pointed to the building behind me.  Wyndham Theater.  He said it was one of the more famous theaters in London.  Imagine that.  Me and my proper British surname, we’re famous.  Not that I didn’t know that.  After finishing up with Johnny Too Good, we headed back to the hotel.  Easily.  Since we’d figured out the right way to take the tube to the train.  We giggled a lot, visited out favorite little convenience store to get some drinks, and went to our room.  That evening we met the co-owner of the hotel as we were talking to the desk woman.  She was from Poland, the same town as Persyda’s Mom.  Very cool.  All of the female staff we spoke too were Polish.  The co-owner of the hotel had grown up in London but his parents had emigrated from Armenia.  Sooooo cool the amount of people you meet from everywhere.  London makes me think of what New York must be like.  We headed to our room and passed out fairly quickly.  It had been a long day and we had a lot of plans for Sunday and I was in quite a bit of pain so it was time to sleep it off.

February 17
Sunday didn’t go quite as planned.  After breakfast I was still in a crazy amount of pain.  It was the weirdest pain.  It was shooting from my right lower hip area to my cervix.  I know, TMI.  But if you have a cervix, you know there is an odd pain that only comes from the cervix.  It happens when getting the exam and they swab the cervix, or really when anything touches it.  It’s a sensitive little bugger.  Rachel then talked me into going to the ER.  There was no way I was going to function.  The Ibuprofen and Tylenol were not cutting it, I was in agony.  So Rachel asked the woman at the front desk about the nearest hospital, she pointed it out on the map then offered to call a taxi.  Rachel explained to her what was going on and she became very concerned, it was super sweet.  She asked me if I’d like her to make me some chamomile tea while we waited for the taxi and stuff, she kept telling Rachel I’d be okay.  It was really sweet and yet another reason I love that hotel (London Visitors Hotel, by the way).  I showered and then we asked her to call a taxi for us.  Rachel and I were going to the hotel and we sent Taylor and Kari to Piccadilly to look for a Claires.  Kari’s navel ring had fallen out so she needed a new one.  They had mastered the overground to Earl’s Court then to Piccadilly, plus Kari had looked up directions to the Claires, so they were ready.  Meanwhile, we went to the ER.  It was pretty fully but they got me back fairly quickly.  I had to pee in a little tin thing, then pour it into a tube.  Weird, but effective.  The doc tested it, everything checked out fine.  He asked me my medical history then got me up on the table.  “You have adhesions.  Why didn’t they take out your cervix?” He said matter of factly.  “I don’t know.” I don’t.  “Well they should have.  You have adhesions, I can feel them here.” I’m squirming in pain as he’s touching the part of my belly that hurt, between my lower hip to bellybutton area.  Lovely.  He sits me back down at the chair and says, “I wouldn’t advise you to have surgery again unless absolutely needed…in Germany.” He didn’t seem to be a fan of the care I had received.  Which was fine, it seems every country thinks that their care is the best.  And honestly, I don’t know why they didn’t yank my cervix either.  It just seems like something left in there for scar tissue to stick to.  After that madness, the doc prescribed me…something.  Don’t know what.  Tylenol with something narcotic.  It works, I feel a little pain but not anything like it was.  I do feel stupid as hell though…the joy of narcotics.  We went to Boots to fill the prescript and then went back to call a taxi and wait.  While we were waiting a nice man asked for a light…he was a down-on-his-luck type of guy.  He was at the hotel visiting his friend (whose name I can’t remember).  She’s 93 and not looking so good, he said.  He was hoping she’d live to 100 because then you get a letter from the Queen!! I told him I’d pray for her to make it to 100 and even beyond.  So if you think about it, blog reading friends, say a prayer for her.  Our taxi finally gets there and let me just say – had I not taken the pain pills I may have died.  Rachel and I were laughing SO hard it was ludicrous.  The man drove the wrong way down a one way road.  I was saying I would be so scared to drive in London, he said, “You don’t drive.  You enjoy.” Then he floors it and starts honking at everyone.  We were cracking up so hard I’m surprised we didn’t wet out pants.  He would honk and wave at pedestrians, “Why you no wave back? I wave at you!” HONK! Then he saw a car that had passed us not long before, “I know her! I’ve seen her before, earlier.  Maybe she does not remember me.” He starts honking and waving at the Range Rover.  “Why does she not wave back?” HONK.  It continued like that for the entire trip.  When he finally dropped us off, he deducted our fair because we were fun I think.  I tipped him, probably too much, but it was SO much fun and the stress melted away because of his silliness.  I told him every time I heard a honk from then on out, I’d think of him <3 as he drove away he honked about 6 times lol.  It was fabulous.  We ended up going upstairs and making reservations to eat at Planet Hollywood at 5pm.  I felt like shit, my high from the silly man had worn off and I felt like I ruined the Sunday.  We had SO many plans to take the bus around, get off at allllll the stops (well the big ones) and take pictures.  And I ruined that.  I was getting very down.  So I decided after dinner, I was heading back to the hotel.  I told Rachel because I knew she’d get it.  She decided she’d come with me, primarily cause she was worried about me I think.  I gave Kari and Taylor precise directions to get to Platform 9 3/4.  It's not difficult, you just get on the Piccadilly line and take the Kings Cross or St. Pancras stop, Kings Cross is across from St. Pancras.  We traveled mostly on the Piccadilly line so they were pretty familiar with it.  Rachel and I got back to the hotel and started packing everything up, we had to leave the hotel at 730am to catch the bus to go to the tube.  The girls got back from being Harry Potter dorks hehe and were happy.  I still felt like a jerk and like I ruined an entire day.  I was really trying to avoid that.  Sigh.  We finished packing up, got everything squared away, and fell quickly to sleep.

February 18
We woke up at 6am and started getting ready.  I wore my outfit from H&M, a tank dress with leggings, with a sweater over the top.  It was super comfy on my belly.  By 730 we were out the door and headed towards the bus stop…which we eventually found.  We took the bus to the…Nightsbridge? I don’t know, some tube station that was on the Piccadilly line.  From there it was straight to Heathrow.  We had enough time to cash in the rest of our Oyster card, I got cash back from mine because I had exactly 20pound left on there, and Taylor and Kari’s got refunded to my card and popped up the next day.  We went into Heathrow, got through customs and security, and then found food.  We ate at a coffee place.  I carried my food onto the plane with me cause I didn’t want to rush eating, my stomach already hurt enough.  When we got into Paris is when everything got jacked up.  Our flight out of Heathrow was delayed for whatever reason so we made it to Paris with 30mins to get to our flight.  Which could have been easy…but it wasn’t.  We ended up being outside the security part of the airport, then had to go back through security…then more or less run to the gate.  I didn’t run.  It may have jostled something loose.  But Kari and Rachel were running.  I was walking briskly.  We made it, just barely, and completely out of breath.  Phew.  Once we got to Munich things continued on their bad streak.  No luggage.  Sad.  I guess our luggage didn’t run as fast as the girls did.  We filed a claim and the got in the Jeep and headed home.  Our luggage showed up on the 19th and all was well.  Thus ends the day by day account of the journey of 4 silly American girls to London.

In closing, it was amazing.  I very highly recommend the London Visitors Hotel, it was amazing.  I also recommend the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital if you need care.  They were awesome.  And Bella Italia in Piccadilly is absolutely delish!! I want to go back.  Right right right now!!!

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