I couldn't have been more organized and excited for my trip to Europe. Obviously I was organized, everyone saw my color coded itinerary. So, when I came down with the flu the day before I left, everything seemed to spin out of control. Who would think I would get sick the day before I left? Didn't I get my tonsils out just for this reason? Well, of course I didn't get Strep Throat. I got the full fledge flu equipped with a 103.6 fever.
My camera broke four days before I left thus triggering two trips to Chinatown to get it fixed along with a nice fee of $120. After the flu decided to get comfortable and stay for a while, everything seemed to go wrong. The copier at Kinkos was broken when I went to make copies of my passport. Not to mention, I was in San Francisco for work the weekend before and had two days to get organized and packed before leaving for Europe. I believe this is also where the flu decided to tag along back to New York City with me.
Luckily, I have the best parents in the world. My Dad took full responsibility of getting me all the antibiotics, including Tamiflu, and sleeping pills I needed while my Mom graciously booked me a hotel at the London Heathrow Airport, which turned out to be the nicest hotel I stayed in during the entire trip. Airport security at Newark was the hardest to handle. Once they started to board, I popped some sleeping pills and waited impatiently to sit down again for five and a half hours. I slept the entire flight.
When I landed in London, I went directly to my hotel, checked in, popped some more sleeping pills and slept for five more hours. My fever broke sometime during my sleep and when I woke up I felt at least 75% better. After a long hot tub, I got dressed and headed to the Heathrow Express towards Paddington Station. From Paddington Station I hopped on the Bakerloo line in the Tube and exited at Piccadilly Circus! After a sigh of relief, meaning I can't believe I made it, I met my friend Matt and we headed towards the restaurant for dinner.
Since Matt lives in London, Sara and I decided to let him choose the restaurant. He did well. He chose Gaucho, an Argentinian Restaurant on Charlotte Street. Check out this decor!
It is a little over the top but not for me on my first night in London! I loved it. Food, decor and all!
We shared the Empanadas for a starter. We tried all three, the Ground Beef & Olive, Corn Pepper & Basile, and Ham & Cheese.
For dinner Matt and I both had the Bife de Lomo Fillet. In London they pronounce it exactly how it is spelled, including the "t" on the end. Sara had a pasta dish which was also very tasty.
It was fairly obvious I wasn't feeling too hot when Matt asked if anyone wanted dessert and Sara replied, Alexis always wants dessert and I said actually I don't want dessert. However, Matt got the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake with a Coffee Biscuit and Chocolate Sauce. I had one bite. That one bite was delicious!
My first night in London ended after dinner. I was exhausted and not feeling well. I had a big next day and knew I needed as much sleep as I could get.
I met Matt in Leicester Square, which I've nicknamed "Mini Hollywood," the next morning. After a quick breakfast we headed to Trafalgar Square where I heard the story of the Battle of Trafalgar.
After we headed to The Mall. The Mall is the road running from Buckingham Palace at its western end to Admiralty Arch and on to Trafalgar Square at its eastern end. The picture below is looking through the arches into Trafalgar Square.
I apparently being in the same City as the Pope once wasn't enough for me. I had to make sure I was in the same city as him twice. Good thing he agreed with me. London was apparently more crowded than usual because of the Pope's visit. However, compared to New York City, it still didn't seem crowded.
Along The Mall, they were setting up for transporting the Pope back and forth from Buckingham Palace. There was a lot of activity going on throughout the day. I saw a lot of soldiers on horseback, which had street cleaners immediately following.
Everyone was lined up outside Buckingham Palace to get a look at the Pope and Queen.
After our Mall parade and a slight stroll through St. James Park (where they had "Please do not feel the pelican" signs), we headed around the corner to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.
We walked through the Victoria Tower Gardens which were beautiful.
And headed over Lambeth Road Bridge crossing the Thames River to the Eastern side of London. There was a great view of the London Eye from the bridge.
I got really excited when I saw the Millennium Bridge, also known to me as the Harry Potter Bridge.
I heard from everyone that I needed to go to Tate Modern. I was pleased to find out that it was free, or by donation. We spent about an hour perusing the museum. I saw more exciting, beautiful, amazing pieces in one room of the Tate than you see in all of MOMA.
I bought the Tate Artist Timeline. This way I could remember all the artists I saw. I am still trying to decide what to do with it. I would love to frame it however, it is quite long.
Our tummies started to growl right around Borough Market. Perfect Timing. So we made a slight detour to put the growling at ease. The market was wonderful. It was so colorful with different types of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats and smelled amazing. We all decided on the prize winning best cheeseburgers.
We also saw Sir Francis Drake's ship the Golden Hind.
Of course we made it all the way to the London Bridge, which is by no means falling down!
After our five mile walk, we took the train to Greenwich. Before we walked through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, under the river, and into Greenwich, I got the history of the Old Royal Naval College (ORNC) which is now Trinity College of Music.
We spent some time walking through Greenwich Market. I am sure glad we did too. This is the only place during my whole time in Europe I found any sort of hand made arts and craft gifts for friends. I won't spoil the surprises yet!
We then took a short tour of the college and headed up the hill to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich to see the Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT.
I was spent after this. But, we kept trucking along. Like most girls, I absolutely had to see Notting Hill. It's like this unwritten rule you have to do if you're a girl visiting London. So, we took the train to Notting Hill. I guess I was expecting to see the actual garden they crawled into in the movie. That was not the case. Notting Hill is just a very cute neighborhood with restaurants and shops.
I believe I accomplished a lot in London for one day. By the time we were finished with Greenwich, I wanted nothing more than to soak in a hot tub and eat a delicious dinner. So that is what I did. I soaked my feet and ordered room service.
It was early to bed for me that night because the next morning at 5:00am, I was off to my second adventure, Milan, Italy!
Stay tuned for some exciting adventures all through Italy!