Monday, January 14, 2013

London Zoo and The Tower of London

We knew when we booked our trip to London that nothing would be open on Christmas day, including most restaurants. We did not, however, take into account that most attractions would also be closed on Boxing Day (does anyone even know what this day is? We asked a few people and no one knew). Luckily, one thing that was open was the London Zoo.

The zoo opened at 10:00 a.m., so Hubs wanted us up and going by 9:00. We walked over to a restaurant by the tube station and had a classic English breakfast. The part that was funnies to me was it came with what we Americans call "pork and beans." I knew it was going to be a long day with lots of walking, so I ate up most everything, including the beans.

After breakfast we walked to the tube station, only to find the train drivers were all on strike, so no trains were running that day. But Hubs, being the awesome planner and pro-vacationer that he is, knew we could take the bus. We walked a few blocks to the bus station and waited while every bus on the route but ours stopped at least once and sometimes twice before ours ever showed up.
The wait did give us a chance to snap this picture with the London Eye in the background.

Eventually we did make it to the zoo, after a bus ride and a long walk to the gates.
You wouldn't believe how much this picture cost us
Not the best picture, but the best we could get.
Creating her own animal
A real, live reindeer!
Penguins came to say hello!
A playground designed by kids for kids - or so the sign said
That  morning before leaving the hotel, we had asked to borrow an umbrella. The doorman told us in his fabulous cockney accent that we wouldn't need one because it wasn't going to rain that day. If only had had been right. It rained on us a lot that day. At lunch time we had seen most of the zoo, and only had a little bit left to go, so we sought refuge in the reptile house from the rain. As we made our way down the rows of lizards and snakes, I started to feel like I was some place familiar. I knew I had never been there before, so how could I recognize the python cage? Then I realized it is because that is where the had filmed the first Harry Potter.

We had a wonderful, full day at the zoo. By the end of it, we were ready to hop the bus back to our hotel where we could get warm and dry. Shortly after arriving back, we decided to go look for some dinner and found a noodle restaurant close to our hotel, so we got takeout and went back to the hotel to eat it. While the food tasted good, it smelled sooooo bad. I tolerated the smell as long as I could after we were done, and then packed up all of the leftovers and placed them in the hall, which mad Hubs and I laugh.

The next morning we hopped on the tube to go see The Tower of London. We had been telling Little Bean about it since we planned the trip. We told her it was a castle that had lots of jewels because that is where the Crown Jewels are housed. She was so excited.

Of course it rained all day that day, and we constantly asked ourselves if we had made the best decision to be at an outdoor attraction all day. We had borrowed an umbrella from the hotel that didn't last even long enough for us to get through the castle entrance because of the wind. But we endured, cold and wet, and enjoyed every bit of the castle we saw.
Little Bean in front of Tower of London (I obviously need to fix this picture)
Little Bean refuses to smile cute for or even look at the camera anymore

Exploring the Tower
"I love castles and jewels!"
The line in the picture is to see the Crown Jewels

Henry VIII's armor with XL cod piece
Just plain cute
On the castle wall in front of Tower Bridge
One thing I had forgotten about castles is that there are lots and lots of spiral stair cases with tiny stairs, and I do mean tiny. Hubs and I had been to London and even Tower of London back in the spring of 2007, so it wasn't news to me. However, doing stairs like that when 19-20 weeks pregnant is a task! I would run out of breath so fast, and those stairs would just go on and on and on. I was secretly glad whenever Little Bean would go up the stairs first because there were times I couldn't even keep pace with her.

Little Bean loved the crown jewels and not only couldn't get enough, she kept asking to see more the while trip. She kept asking if we could get some. I wish we could too.

We had talked about going to see a pirate ship across the river from Tower of London afterward, so we walked across the Tower Bridge in the rain and wind to go see it. When we got to the other side, Little Bean was done. She was cold and wet, and all she wanted to do was go back to the hotel. After all of the stairs I had done, I couldn't argue. All I wanted was a nice cup of hot chocolate, and to get my damp gloves off my hands and to where they could dry.

That night we walked along the River Thames to find something for dinner and ended up at a pretty tasty Italian restaurant. While we were there, I asked Hubs if he thought people in London earned the equivalent amount in salary after exchange as we did, or if they earned more. He found that he would actually make less in London after the conversion. What was sad, though, is he discovered I would make A LOT more. Even for where I am, I'm underpaid. But to find out how underpaid I am even by London standards was kind of depressing and almost makes me want to move to London. Ha!

In all reality, one of the things I discovered about myself this trip is that I really do love where I live. I've been saying it all along, but it was interesting to have that fact driven home after a vacation to such an amazing place. I love my wide open spaces with new architecture and the community we live in. I really am home where I belong.


*Jess* said...

Boxing day is Dec. 26th, the day after Christmas when the servants would celebrate their holiday. They spent actual Christmas Day waiting on their employers and didn't get the day off until the next day.

Alex said...

What an amazing trip! Sounds like you're doing great!!!

twondra said...

Looks like so much fun! I'd love to go to London!

you look great and so happy! :)

Fran said...

Amazing pics!! I would agree that it's very difficult for an American to love Europe outside a holiday (like living here for good) too different, but to some extent the same is true the other way around. One would eventually settle of course, but deep down you'd miss various aspects of you mother land!
Much love, Fran

Life Happens said...

What a fabulous trip and such special time with your little family! Love all the pictures.