Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Greetings from London!!

Greetings from London!

Mike and I are here in the UK for a couple of weeks splitting our time between England and Scotland.  The trip all started because Mike's sister, Kelly, is getting married today (!!!), but since we knew we'd be without our furniture in Berlin, we decided to tack on an extra week in the UK and do a little tour of Scotland.  It's a rough life we live, I know ;)

We arrived in London bright and early Saturday morning and made our way straight to Kelly and Sean's flat (look at me, I'm so British calling it a "flat").  The four of us headed out shortly afterwards to pick up the rental car.  None of us expected it to take quite as long as it did to pick up the rental car, but an hour later, we were on the road with Mike and Kelly's dad heading up north to Sunderland.   Sean's father's family is from Sunderland and everyone is a huge Sunderland fan.  When we realized that they were playing at home this Sunday, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go and watch a match (there I go again, calling a game a match! So British!).

Because it took so long to pick up the car, we were cutting it close for our dinner reservation, but luckily we made it just in time. Dinner was at an Italian restaurant and it was delicious.  Sean's parents, his grandmother and two cousins joined us and we had a great time.  After dinner, we all headed to the pub for a fun Saturday night.  Sean's cousins had planned a bachelor party (sorry, stag party) for him, so eventually, Mike, Sean and the rest of the guys headed out, while Kelly, myself, Mike's dad and Sean's parents stayed at the pub. It was a fun first night in the U.K. and definitely felt authentic.

Sunday morning was a little rough for Mike and Sean, but they persevered and we headed to the pub for a quick drink (mainly of water) before heading to the match.  I've never been to a Major League Soccer match in the US, but I can't imagine it being as intense as the soccer matches here.  The fans were loud and so into the game, chanting and singing anytime anything exciting (or disappointing) happened.  Despite the fact that Sunderland lost, it was still a ton of fun.

We ended up getting stuck in major traffic on the way back from London and didn't get back home from dropping off the car until almost eleven.  We were all pretty exhausted and happy to settle into our beds (or air mattress for Mike and I).

The next day, Kelly and Sean had to work, so Mike and I set out to do some sightseeing.  Both of us had been to London before, but I'm 99% sure I had the swine flu when I was there last time circa 2009, so we figured we'd do a walking tour to see a lot of major sights in a short amount of time.

We spent the morning at the Tate Modern museum.  I know modern art isn't for everyone, but I love it and Mike can usually get on board.  We were there for two hours and only got through one floor out of six! The guide book recommended doing sight seeing and then spending the rest of your day at the museum, which probably would have been a better strategy and allowed us to see more, but oh well.  We had Indian food to eat for lunch! Since we were meeting the Sandeman's tour in Covent Garden, we found Dishoom Covent Garden for lunch.  We both thought it was delicious, although they never believe Mike when he says he wants it really spicy.

After lunch, we met Rachel, our tour guide in Covent Garden.  Our group of about 25 followed her all around London as she told us all about the kings and queens and the history of England.  She was probably the best Sandeman's tour guide we've had because she had people acting out different kings and queens and really got the crowd involved.  That being said, neither Mike nor I thought the tour itself was especially great.  We both felt the tour included a lot of walking and talking and not a lot of sight seeing, especially in the first half.  I think if I were giving advice, I'd say go with the Big Red Bus tour because you get more sights, even though you have to pay a little more.  We did manage to see a few things and the stories behind them were interesting.

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery

Our tour guide Rachel

Buckingham Palace

The London Eye

Big Ben

Abe Lincoln?

Westminster Abbey

I don't regret doing the tour, but I'm glad that this wasn't our first time in London because it wasn't the best tour, but that's okay.  We'll be back!

We ended the night at a pub by Kelly and Sean's flat. Sean's brother, sister, sister's boyfriend and parents all joined us.  Even Giorgio, Mike's dad's dog who has come to live with Kelly and Sean, joined us!! I'd say he enjoyed his evening out, just as much as the rest of us!

Such a cute little family!

Today is the first wedding, which is the court ceremony, so I'll be back with a post about that, but now I'm off to digest the English breakfast Kelly and Sean made us!