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Thursday, December 31, 2009

London Calling

First... some photos from our last day in Paris.

(the honey and macarons that I talked about in my last blog)

(Stella - the cheap beer in Paris @ our hotel's lounge. Me & a Kir Royal for our final dinner in Paris. Mike and his nasty Desperado... tequilla flavored beer. Who would want tequilla flavored beer?)

We did it again.

We fell asleep. For 12 hours yesterday. This time in London.

We win.

We got off the Eurostar at 8:30 AM in London after a 2.5 hour train ride, so I guess maybe we were pooped. We walked into a cafe at the station to let whatever bit of rush hour traffic might be left on the Underground over the holidays pass. The place was packed and there was a bit of a line which is always a good sign. We got a table and shoved our luggage into the corner and placed our order. As soon as the server left our table we heard this honking sound outside the cafe. The servers all stopped what they were doing and stepped outside to listen as a voice came over the intercom, we couldn't understand what was being said, but the servers came back in and sort of just watched for a moment. Outside, we could see that people were picking up their bags and leaving. Everything quieted down in the cafe and we could hear the announcement the next time it came over the intercom "This is an emergency evacuation - please calmly leave the building." The servers rolled their eyes but asked everyone to exit the building and if they still hadn't paid their tabs to come back and pay after the evacuation was over.

We gathered our things and headed out towards the exit where a crowd of people were waiting. We stood out there for about 3 minutes before everyone was let back in. Apparently it was a test that no one was really expecting (we've since heard them testing the system at other stations a number of times preceded by a "this is a test, ignore the next announcement") so we head back to the cafe and queued up next to the door so we could get our table back right away. The station is a ghost town with cups and plates on every table at every restaurant - and inside our cafe are two women wandering around looking lost.

Immediately we thought - holy crap, they were locked in!

The staff of the restaurant came back a bit later and told us that it would be about 20 more minutes till they could re-open. So we waited. The two women who were inside stepped outside near us and we asked them if they were locked in. They weren't. They were actually on a train that got in after ours. The train docked and they unloaded in the time that everyone else was evacuated, so they walked into a totally empty station with half eaten sandwiches, plates, hot coffee and unlocked doors everywhere. They looked lost because they thought that they had stepped into the twilight zone (maybe the rapture?)

They were a mother and daughter who lived in Northern England and had taken the train to spend the day in London. They had specifically planned to eat breakfast at this cafe and the daughter told us that she was thrilled to only have to wait 20 minutes to dine.

I don't remember the name of the cafe, but it was incredible. It seemd like it may have been some sort of UK chain that's similar to Panera (fresh breads, organic, free range, etc.) Had the best scone and cream I've ever had in my life. I haven't had too many scones, but that's mostly because the ones I've had in the past were so dry and icky. These were major yum. Fantastic quiche and delish tea. Mike had a ham and gruyere croissant which he scarfed, so I think that was good too.

We checked into our hotel (the K+K George - which is awesome and quite a bit bigger than our Paris hotel) and then off to the Tower of London for some gruesome fun. We had a tour with a Yeoman Guard (Beefeater) which was a great way to see the place. The constant drizzle was obnoxious, but I guess that's London.

(The view from our UK hotel room - I don't know what that is. An acorn from outerspace is my guess.
Our tour guide - hilarious.)

(That's a real person guarding the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.
Me in front of the London Tower Bridge.)

Speaking of drizzle, let's discuss my hair.

My kick ass flat iron from home heats up to a steamy 480 degrees Fahrenheit. I need that kind of control. My hair is not naturally straight, it's not naturally curly, it's not naturally wavy. It's naturally weird. The bottom layers curl. The left side waves a bit. The top is just frizzy and there are a couple of areas on my head where I have genuinely straight hair. But those are mixed in with areas that have genuinely not-straight hair. Blow drying does a good job of poofing all the mixes of hair into a nice fro. Damp drizzle does a good job of turning that fro into a sloppy mess with curls near the top. So. Pretty.

Does sarcasm translate well here?

Moving on.

My awesome travel blow drier is dual voltage, so that was a win. My kick ass flat iron, is not - and it requires about as much power to work as a tv... or so I imagine.

Voltage converters and plug converters can't handle my flat iron because it's so awesome (Matt, we have to buy you a replacement voltage converter... I killed yours. Sorry.) There's only so much you can do to hide crazy hair and this morning I about lost it, so Michael went out in the morning and picked up a handy $30 Remington flat iron from the local Boots store. I am happy again. And so is my hair.

We checked out Portobello Market today and got our London souvenir. A wooden shoe horn with a duck head. We named him George. Tonight we're getting some kind of fancy pizza at a place that Mike had talked about for a while and spending New Years in a local lounge with drunk Brits (we had no desire to brave the crowds at Trafalger Square - we wouldn't want to go to Times Square, or Vegas on NYE, so why would we do it now?)

Happy New Year from the future! See you all next year!


  1. Nice Biere! Hopefully you didn't catch the hotel on fire when you blew the converter ;-) -Matt

  2. I have pretttty much exactly the same hair! I got a Jose Eber straightener, and OMFG it even kept it straight in the humid nasty DC summer when it RAINED that day. Best $170 I've spent in a long time, minus my new hair color...that was also worth it.

    And, your pictures TOTALLY remind me of the 2 times I've been there, but it's been over 10 years. Man... I was so much younger and while more fun then, also less fun. I think London and Paris are not cities for 17 and 14 year olds (I went twice). I enjoyed the rest of the trip in tiny cute provincial towns, but the cities were NOT fun for me. I think I'd get more from them now.

    I hope you're enjoying yourself! I'm living vicariously through you. :)


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