London calling!

Ring, ring.

Hello? Yes, London? You’d like me to finally “see your iconic sights?” Well, alright then.

My brother, who’s never been to London or any part of Europe before, arrived yesterday and we hit the ground running. I have to say, I am quite impressed by all he managed to do after taking the overnight from NYC — especially considering he’s his father’s son. But thanks to the fact that this city has literally sprung into glory overnight, with daffodils sprouting around every corner and blue skies actually, well, staying blue, we were able to walk — and actually manage to keep our hands out of our pockets in the midst! It’s amazing how much smaller the city feels when you can walk it — and also how connected it all really is. For the past few months, since it was dark after work and I often had a destination (not to mention it was frigid), I never really got to SEE where I was going and I pretty much took the tube or the bus everywhere. But now! Oh, wow! We got around.

Our first stop was the Blackfriar Pub, one of the oldest art nouveau pubs in the city. It was bustling with Fleet Street men in suits downing pints and burgers. There was even a table of men who must’ve come over from Thatcher’s funeral, what with their ribbons and pins, who were drinking beers and singing songs. I swear, it was as if we were in a British parody of itself. We loved it. Jared had the fish ‘n’ chips, I had a chicken and mushroom pie, which definitely went straight to my thighs. We topped them off with “small” Nightingales. (In retrospect, maybe not a great idea considering all we’d do the rest of the day…)

Cheers!

Cheers!

Next, we stopped into Somerset House and walked through the fountains.

Spritz.

Spritz.

Then, I somehow managed to convince my so-not-into-art brother to see the “Becoming Picasso” exhibit at the Courtauld Gallery, which was on my list of things to do. Since it was only two rooms and 18 paintings, I felt confident he could handle the culture-overload. Plus, he’s never seen a Picasso before! I think he liked it! (I did too, and recommend it to anyone in the area over the next few weeks while it’s still on. Really shows from whence Picasso came.)

Courtauld Gallery stairwell.

Courtauld Gallery stairwell.

Then we walked over Millenium Bridge, along the Southbank and back over Westminster Bridge to see Big Ben and Parliament.

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Walking over Millennium Bridge.

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“Look kids!”

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Parliament flag at half-mast for Thatcher

At this point, even I was exhausted and needed a coffee. So we took refuge somewhere to refuel. Jared was fading, but agreed to carry on, knowing that if he didn’t, he’d be a slave to the jetlag.

Lucky us, Westminster Abbey is open til 6 on Wednesday’s and so when we rocked up at 5p.m., it was fairly empty and a delight to walk through with the audio guide. I found it fascinating to not only walk through this cathedral while a service was in session, but also see the tombs and burial plots of so many royals and dignitaries. It may have been “touristy,” but I’m really glad I went, and I’m really glad my brother got to see it too. He’s into The Tudors and a total history buff.

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Ben and Abbey, sittin’ in a tree.

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Westminster

As if that wasn’t enough, we powered on and walked through St. James’ Park, which was in full bloom. I swear, none of these flowers or greenery were here three days ago!

Spring has sprung and I lived to see the day!

Spring has sprung and I lived to see the day!

St. James' Park

St. James’ Park

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Wild at life.

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Quack.

We obsessed over every petal and duck until we finally came up at Buckingham Palace. It was the end of the day, so the crowds were thin and light. The sun was falling behind the Queen’s home just so, and we got to watch the guards do a little back-n-forth marching action.

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King of the Castle!

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Queen’s not home, but she honors Thatcher.

Finally, we got in the tube and ended the day with the most ridiculous Italian meal ever at Il Bordello; as if we had just transported ourselves over to Italy. Bellissimo! 

You speaka-Italian?

You speaka-Italian or just eata-Italian?

Today we did the requisite walk across Abbey Road (photo TK!) and checked out Sherlock Holmes’ house at 221b Baker Street.

Now we’re in Edinburgh, having just ate a chip butty (that’s a frie sandwich for this who don’t know!) cause all the restos close “around 10” here and we had a bit of a “where are we/where do we go?” wander upon first arriving.

Tomorrow we’ll have another yesterday. Castles and ghosts and haggis, oh my!

Ellie, you’re up!!!!

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