Sunday, November 27, 2011

Trevor Cross is the New Rick Steves

My long time friend Trevor Cross spent this last year living in London, so I called him up to get suggestions on things to do.  We talked and talked and talked; he had so many great recommendations, and not just your typical tour-book must-sees... he even mixed in his personal favorite, off the beaten path, recomendations!  As if I wasn't excited enough, Trevor got me even more energetic about our trip!  If you know Trevor, you know that he could get you excited about dang near anything.  I swear he could turn a Cougar fan into a Husky, just give him 15 minutes!

With Trevor as our "guide," we mapped out our tour of London on the train ride into the city!  Conor had to work that morning, so we didn't get into the city til about 4pm.  We were determined to see everything on Trevor's list in one night, and we planned on walking everywhere.... Let the madness of London commence!

Our first stop was the Borough Market to get a late lunch.  This a beautiful outdoor market that Trevor said had a Pike Place Market feel but very London local.  Since it was already starting to get dark by the time we arrived, most of the stalls were shutting down.  We walked around as quickly as possible, taking in all the smells and delicious looking food.  I wish we could have ate about 10 meals there!  Our options were limited, so we decided on some "proper" fish and chips...and it did not disappoint!

We devoured every last bite of the fish....well almost every bite.  It came with the skin on...and that got a little gross towards the end of our meal!  We walked off our lunch on the way to Shakespeare's Globe Theater.  Since it was past 5pm on a Friday night, nothing was open.  So we began the walking look-from-the-outside tour of many of London's sites.  Obviously, you can't see much of the theater from the outside, so we moved on!

Next, we saw Big Ben!  I was actually really excited about this!  I looked for Peter Pan, but unfortunately he was nowhere in sight.  ;-)  Big Ben wasn't quite as "big" as I was expecting, but a beautiful sight nonetheless.

One of the highlights of the night was riding the London Eye.  Luckily, it wasn't too crowded, so we didn't have to lose any time waiting in line.  The views were spectacular, and I'm so glad that we did this at night...not that we had a choice.  This Ferris wheel, of sorts, is absolutely massive, and was such a fun experience.  I highly recommended it to anyone traveling to London, even though it's a little bit pricey!

We kept walking through the city and made our way to Parliament, Westminster Abbey, & Buckingham Palace.  It's a different experience to explore a city at night, but we really enjoyed it.  You never know what you'll run into walking around out there... For example, on the way to the Palace, we were suddenly overtaken by an impromptu rollerblade party! About 150 rollerbladers, some packing back-pack boom-boxes, and bike escorts. Awesome! As the evening went on, the drunks of London leaving the pubs were a sight to see.  Our favorite "gentlemen", became the one who stumbled out of pub, gave a huge belch, and then exclaimed while holding his gut: "Arg... pub pain!" Ah, how lovely!
Our final stop was The Jerusalem Tavern.  This pub came highly recommended by Trevor!  He explained it as off the beaten path and something straight out of a Dickens novel.  He was absolutely right!  With a little difficulty, we finally found the place.  The front door was completely blocked by patrons and tables, so we ventured into the alley that led us to a side door.  The place was so tiny, but exactly what we were hoping for.  We squished our way through the many pub goers to make our way to the bar.  It was so wonderful to sit down and enjoy my cider!  We had just finished at least 11 miles of walking and were pretty exhausted.  We called Trevor to tell him we had made it through London and found our way to the best pub ever!  He told Conor he had to try the honey porter, which he did...and it was delicious!  Even I had a few sips, so it had to be good!  We wanted to stay forever, but the pub was closing down.  We figured it was time to get back to the train station anyway, since our flight to Venice was at 6am. 

We arrived at the station at 11:45pm, perfect timing to catch the midnight train back to our hotel....or so we thought!  Apparently, we misread the train schedule, because the last train left at 11:25....big oops!  The next train wasn't until 4am, and it's an hour ride, so there was no way we would make our flight!  After a little bit of panicing, we went to the ticket booth to try and figure out another way to get back to our hotel.  We finally discovered there was a bus that could get us where we needed to go.  So we walked outside into the bitter cold, and waited...and waited.  Forty minutes later, we thought the bus was never going to arrive and frustration set in again.  Finally the bus pulled up to the stop, and we both gave a huge sigh of relief.  Little did we know, this bus ride was going to take about 2 1/2 hours.  Utterly exhausted, we finally made it to our hotel room.  We had a wonderful (or terrible...) hour of sleep, and then packed our bags Ryan-Air style... and walked to the airport to catch our flight.  Needless to say, the Keenans were sleepy for the their arrival in Italy!

Coming up:Venice, Florence, & Rome!

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