We’ve been back from Europe nearly a month now, and I was immediately sucked back into the Mom Vortex. With school starting not long after we returned, there was a lot to be done with regard to getting everyone ready. I dove headlong into it and to be honest, I haven’t completely organized or edited half of my photos and video yet. Yikes!
Now that everything is settling (well, sort of) after the whirlwind of this summer, I am prepared to share with our readers the wonderful trip that we took. This was the first trip my husband and I have taken together (not a work trip) with no children in nine years. Nine looooong years, people. Wtf would we even talk about? I figured I would just sit and drool at all of Europe’s grandeur, and well, not really feel the need to say much of anything. Oh, and eat everything. Yeah, I told my trainer that I was sorry, but I would be eating all of the food. All. Of. The. Food.
My husband–King of the Workaholics–promised me he wouldn’t answer a single work email on the entire trip, and despite my catching him reading one, to the best of my knowledge he kept his promise and didn’t actually respond to one. Baby steps. For someone who works so much and literally breathes what he does, he did pretty well at being in the moment. He still wanted to Chevy Chase everything, but we really couldn’t take that much time in one place as I really would have liked.
I’d never been to Europe before. I’d dreamt of it ever since I was a child, but it took me all these years to finally get there. I’d always felt a strong connection to the UK, but after tracing my mother’s side of the family to Scotland and England, I was quite excited to get my feet on the ground there. We’d originally planned to visit Scotland as well, but we decided to save that for another trip. We really had to condense a lot into a relatively short amount of time.
Below was my first glimpse of England. I’m from Florida. There’s a lot of green in Florida. But the green in Europe is a whole different kind of green. My heart leapt with excitement. My fourth Great Grandfather left London 196 years ago and came to New York. I wondered what he would think of one of his descendants returning.
First glimpse of England.
My first observation of England was how clean everything was. The bathrooms, the streets, the tube stations and trains. I also noted a distinct lack of advertisements. In the US we have grown so used to seeing advertisements everywhere we look. I did see some–particularly in tube stations–but nothing like what we have in the United States. Another observation was the amount of flowers. In the tube stations there are some nice fresh flower stands, and you see a lot of flowers on the streets and adorning business fronts. The contrast between the colorful flowers, brick and stone buildings was pleasing to the eye.
Lovely flowers on the street.
Seeing streets and buildings that were so much older than anything that we have in the US was the coolest. When you think about how young the US really is, it’s amazing to think that not long ago we were a savage new world. It’s mind-blowing.
The architecture in London was beautiful and detailed. You could literally spend weeks just photographing the buildings. We only had days. Even though we covered a lot of ground and saw a lot of the main sights, we still didn’t hit everything we wanted to see.
A corner of the Parliament building from a park at sunset.
Sunset view of Big Ben.
Double decker buses downtown.
We had a few days in London before we headed off to other adventures, so we wasted no time and hit the pavement right after checking into our hotel. We got our subway cards and traveled the hell out of the Underground. We took the train just about everywhere. It was easy and convenient and I couldn’t get over how much classier things like announcing your next stop sounded with a British accent. As I walked the streets of London, I imagined ancestors walking the same streets and how different their view was from the one I was seeing.
My husband implored me not to break out my Hyacinth Bucket voice. Please, I ignored that shit. I Hyacinth Bucket-ed every damn thing I saw. Especially those lovely country estates that had a “swimming pool, sauna and room for a pony.” Not loud enough for anyone to hear me in public (that would be rude!), but back in the hotel room and driving around in the rental car I let it all out. Poor hubs.
The hubs at Buckingham Palace. “Oh look, we’re home!”
Out in front of Buckingham Palace, I told my husband that I was certain that there was probably a swimming pool, sauna and room for several ponies in there! The perfectly manicured gardens were lovely. We walked completely around the Palace. There were huge spikes at the top of the back and side walls. Ouch!
Now that’s a front gate!
The Tower of London was very interesting. SO much history there. It has been a prison, armory, zoo and even the home of the Royal Mint. Processions would begin at the Tower and go to Westminster Abbey for each monarch crowned, beginning in the early 14th century until the late 1600s. Despite the fact that only 7 people were executed there up until the 20th century and World Wars I and II, the Tower has a reputation of being a place of death and horrific torture. Perhaps the most recognizable death associated with the Tower was that of Anne Boleyn, who was beheaded there in 1536.
Tower of London.
Entering Tower of London.
White Tower, Tower of London.
The Tower of London is also home to the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. I stood in line to see these because, anyone who knows me knows I HAD to be royalty in a past life, and these baubles must be missing me. The fact that there was a moving platform in front of the jewels was a stroke of brilliance, seeing as I certainly would have plastered my face against the glass cases and well, drool and fingerprints, guys. They were breathtakingly beautiful.
St. Edward’s Crown, courtesy Wikipedia.
Lioness and Lesser Kudu, Grosvenor Gardens, London.
Tower Bridge selfie!
The temperature was glorious while we were there, and I enjoyed the hell out of not sweating constantly. It’s quite a wonderful change of pace when you are used to living somewhere where your clothes are stuck to you after just going to the mailbox. We did a lot of urban hiking. London is a lovely city for walking. There are many green spaces. I found this interesting article from 2014, which stated that green spaces make up 47 percent of London. Some of the trees in London are quite old. The oldest is an ancient yew tree in the churchyard at St. Andrew’s Church in Totteridge, which has been aged at approximately 2,000 years!
Yew Tee The Yew Tree in St. Andrews Church, Totteridge Village that experts claim to be over 2000 years old and the oldest in London. 02/09/08. BP. Tim Jones.
What a whirlwind! But it didn’t end there! Stay tuned for more of London including a very famous road, street art and the way to Hogwarts!