Sunday, July 28, 2013

DBS Euro Trip 2013 - London Calling

I haven't written a lot this summer.  It's seems like DB~ and I weren't really doing interesting this year, but we were scrimping and saving every sheckel we could find to take our vacation to Europe this summer.  We decided to semi blitz Europe by going to London, Brussels, and Paris over a period of 9 days.  Eventually, our feet would tell us this would be a bad idea.

Once we got to Heathrow, the best and most economical way into town would be to take the Underground to London.  This was only 11 pounds (about $15 dollars, man the exchange rate sucks) and took us to the Vauxhall station just 10 minutes from our hotel.

The very first thing we see when we get topside from the Underground is the MI-6 building.  I mean...the first thing we see is James Bond's headquarters.  It's a very impressive looking building sitting right on the Thames River, even if the area directly around it is a little edgy.  Thankfully, our hotel area 10 minutes by foot was much nicer.

We were just a couple minute walk away from an area of town known as Southbank, which is a trendy/touristy area highlighted by the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel that gives great views of London.  To stave off the jet lag, we set our stuff down in our room (thankfully it was ready at 10:30 am local time) and head off to explore.  The first thing we did was ride the London Eye.

The Eye is an engineering marvel in terms of its gigantic nature, but I'm sure that many Londoners consider it to be an architectural blight as it is very imposing on the surrounding skyline.  For as big of an attraction as the Eye is, the line moves surprisingly quick.  Each pod holds around 25-30 people and the Eye never stops moving.  It just slows down a little for the people to get out and then the next group gets on.  There's probably 30-40 pods so at any time there's 1000-1200 people on this thing.  The views really are spectacular.

After the Eye, we had our first meal at a real hole in the wall English pub called....The Hole In the Wall.  I went with Bangers and Mash (sausage and mashed potatoes), while DB~ chose an Onion and Cheese sandwich.  She doesn't eat onions back home, but chose to eat them here for some reason.  It was a nice intro to England and gave us some energy to get through the afternoon.

We crossed the Westminster bridge and headed towards Parliament and Big Ben (look kids, Big Ben...Parliament) and got to hear Big Ben chime on the top of the hour.  When you look at things in London (and later in Brussels and Paris) you realize the amount of detail work that went into construction back then.  It's hard to imagine that any building built today would have such hand carved details and gargoyles and figures to it.

After seeing some more governmental type buildings, such as 10 Downing Street from behind a security gate, it was around 5:30 pm.  We decided to eat dinner now, as DB~ was rapidly losing energy since we both only slept 2-3 hours on the flight.  Across from 10 Downing was a cool looking English restaurant with dark colored wood and brass called The Red Lion.  I had Fish and Chips and DB~ went with a Salmon Filet (she was being very picky about where she selected her Fish and Chips, for some reason again).

The fish was crunchy and the chips (fries, if you weren't sure) were fine.  The British were big on serving peas, so I asked for some other vegetable instead (I had peas with my Bangers and Mash).  It's the tempura batter on the fish that really makes it.  Not surprisingly, it was only us and 2 other American-looking couples eating dinner at this time.

On the way back to the hotel, about a 15 minute walk, DB~ was practically falling asleep as she moved.  We covered a lot of ground on foot, but that was nothing compared to the Death March we would go on the next day.

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