Diamonds and Double-Deckers

Today was our fabulous full day in London. Jolie took us on the double-decker bus tour, which is seriously the best way to see a city like this in a short amount of time. We saw all of the big, beautiful, fabulously British London landmarks. We started in Trafalger Square and just saw everything. There was the London Eye, Big Ben, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parlaiment, the Fire Monument, Buckingham Palace, JK Rowling’s house, and all of the crazy winding London streets.

I had seen these things before by this point, but it was great to hear the tour guide’s commentary. Tours are actually exemely exciting for me. Our tourguide was a hoot, and maybe the most charismatic man in London. Probably an actor. I learned a little more about the history of the major sights as well as just the general history of the city. I’m sure Kathleen got the most out of it, though, having never been to London before.

The tour was a hop on, hop off situation. We only did this twice, since we had so much to see in so little time. Our first stop was Buckingham Palace. The tour bus isn’t able to pull around the front of the palace, but we wanted to see the facade and the guards. It didn’t disappoint. Much like Berlin, was strangely familiar from all the footage you see. Oh yeah, that’s totally the balcony where Will and Kate had their little public kiss. So cool.

Our second stop was (obviously) the Tower of London. It was nice to have a chance to get back there, since my first visit was abbreviated by the cold weather. The last guided tour had already left for the day by the time we arrived, but it didn’t really matter with our priority: the Crown Jewels. A 530.2 carat diamond never disappoints.

We couldn’t miss the scaffold site where all of the poor sould lost their heads, and the prisons where they were kept until then, but Kathleen wasn’t really interested in the violent history of the tower. In fact, she just told anyone who tried to explain it to shut up and complained loudly til they complied.

We got back on the bus route to take one last visit around the city on our way to Oxford Street. Jolie wanted to introduce us to Primark. It’s an English store of very cheap clothing, and let me just say… It did not disappoint. Kathleen and I were both thrilled. I don’t know how I could live in this country for two months without having discovered this magical places that sells adult-sized foodie pajamas for only £12. Truly magical.

I picked up some much-needed cardians for a couple quid, some warm leggings, and my big splurge was the most adorable trench coat. This was made possible through the wonderful, amazing support of my Grandma P and my Nonnie, who both gave Kathleen and I a little extra sterling for the trip. It has made this week so much more enjoyable not to have to be completely stressed out about keeping a very minimalist daily budget, which is so very hard to do on the road. Not only that, but I was able to replenish some essentials like socks.

When we got home tonight, after a British Thai dinner, Jolie let us use her phone to call home. Since her family is in America, her plan covers calls to the US.

My Nonnie moved to the Bishop Spencer Place today for the rest of her recovery. I hope she’s happy to be out of the hospital, but I’m sure she can’t wait to finally get home. Let’s all pray for a speedy recovery for her. I called her and it was amazing to hear her voice. I miss her so much. She’s a hard lady to get ahold of! For some reason, I got quite a few wrong numbers for her room and finally just had to call grandpa s cell. But she’s worth it! My Nonnie is just a popular lady.

I also got to make another exciting phone call. I guess it’s officially not a secret: my cousins Michael and Colleen are expecting their first baby!!! I found out when I was in Istanbul and have been sitting on the “secret” ever since. I wish I could have called sooner but it isnt easy to do from over here.

I really couldn’t be more thrilled! It has been an incredible source of joy for me since the moment I got the news. We are so fortunate to have Michael and Colleen in our family, and so blessed that our amazing family just keeps growing. I love them so much, and I cannot wait to meet their bundle of joy this September. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch either of them on the phone… But I hope they get my voicemails soon!

London Bridge is (luckily) not falling down
Guess who.
Today, we drove over the London bridge. This was not nearly the highlight. But it does make for a good headline.
Or day began late, with an easy wake up and some hot beverages with Jolie before we walked to the train station. We charged up our Oyster cards (which surprisingly sturdy and obviously built for long time use) and hopped on the first train to London Victoria.
Of course, it was noon and we were all starving, so Jolie, Anna and I went to Pizza Express for lunch. I’m told this is a large chain and staple of England and possibly the surrounding countries. Anyway, I had the American Hot pizza, which is topped with pepperoni, tomato, mozzarella and hot green peppers. As many of you know (hi mommy!), I’ve been going on a green pepper kick lately, so this was right up my alley.
We confirmed our tickets for the hop on, hop off double decker tour buses after walking around Trafalger Square. Don’t worry, there were some cute pictures taken.
We hopped on a tour bus but stayed in the lower part because it was damn cold (excuse my non-French bad word). Our first destination was Buckingham Palace. It. Was. Beautiful. The place was magnificent and the gates were ornately decorated and we saw the little balcony with the kissing of Will and Kate (awwww, so presh).
Oh! On the first tour bus trip to Buckingham Palace, there was this kid crying for his mom. She eventually came down and went to pick him up, but she had this super expensive camera around her neck! I cannot tell you how stressful that was for me. SAVE YOUR CAMERA, NOT YOUR BABY! Just kidding. Maybe. Babies are replaceable.
Anyway, we took lots of pictures and acted all touristy but decided we really needed to see the Crown Jewels. We again hopped on to the bus (this time it was one footed hopping, too, very skilled) but made our way upstairs this time. The funniest thing I saw today was probably the amount of ads on top of cars in London. And it totally makes sense! There are so many people looking down at cars and now there are ads there it’s totally awesome.
We arrived at the Tower of London and stopped quickly in Starbucks to warm our bones. With each of our own hot beverages, we were also treated to some delicious little deserts by Jolie.
If anyone is wondering, Jolie is taking wonderful care of Anna and I.
Really, Jolie, you are a magnificent hostess and we had the best time in London because of you. Thank you so much for my wonderful first experience in London!
We bundled up to walk through the walls of the Tower. Fun fact, the Tower of London is not actually a tower. I know, I know. I was just as shocked seeing it as you are reading it. Crazy Englishmen, naming their buildings incorrectly… smh (shaking my head).
Our next destination: the Crown Jewels.
They were unprecedentedly gorgeous. And sparkling. And also they have set impossible standards for my future engagement ring.
Now, I would like to set the record straight here. I have heard plenty of the gruesome history of the Tower of London. I have no opposition to learning about history. Anna, on our way to see the torture weapons, decided she would tell me about them beforehand. As she was beginning to talk about the first weapon, I realized that I was very squeamish about hearing all of the gory death and injury caused. She was already being very detailed, so I asked her to stop. She gave me a weird look (god, seriously, who wouldn’t want to hear about the way bodies can be mutilated by ancient torture devices?) and tried to continue telling me about it. I would not let her.
The weaponry was closed since it was getting to be about that time (such a bummer). Our heartbreak quickly healed as we bought some awesome candied nuts outside on our way to the tour bus stop. It was getting pretty late so we only had one more destination in mind.
Primark has everything that you’ve always wanted and all the things you never knew you needed. Like actually though. I was able to take some charming pictures with cutouts of One Direction (the new British boy band and also the cutest humans on the planet) and buy a Snood. What’s a snood you ask? It’s a scarf, a hood, and a shawl, all wrapped into one. Oh yes, they exist. I also bought some other priceless (though cheaply priced) items. It was lovely!
While there, to seemed like the logical thing to buy would be baby clothes. Why is this logical, Kathleen? Do you have something to tell us? Well, yes, i do have something to tell you. MY COUSINS MICHAEL AND COLLEEN ARE HAVING A BABY!!!
“Oh, cool,” you say.
No! Inadequate response. Try again.
“OMG NEW BABY SO EXCITING BEST DAY BEST NEWS HOW GREAT I AM SO EXCITED!” You squeal as you hop from foot to foot.
Yes, my reaction exactly.
If you didn’t do either of these reactions, landing somewhere in between, that’s fine, too. I just seem to be particularly excited about the whole thing because babies and cousins and family and I’ll stop now before I get all worked up again.
Anyway, we shopped around but decided nothing seemed quite perfect enough for the soon-to-be-spoiled-rotten impending baby.
We made our purchases, the cashier sharply correcting me for not signing the back of my debit carded left the the beautiful store.
We made it maybe a block in the slight drizzle and freezing London night air before Jolie summoned a taxi. Don’t ask me how. It seemed like magic. One minute, the curb was empty, the next, there it was!
We took a quick ride back to train station and killed time before our train by buying some sparking cream soda water and dry shampoo for the silly American visitor (that’s me, guys!). I highly recommend the sparkling cream soda and will report on the dry shampoo as soon as I try it.
We snagged great seats on the train and even had a little fourth joiner! He seemed very nice and got to listen to our girly quips as he tried his best to seem uninterested. He didn’t even acknowledge us ’till the end when he said that we should definitely go to Camden tomorrow. I knew he was listening the whole time.
Our chauffeur, oh, sorry, I mean Ray, picked us up from the station and saved us from a terrible walk home in the dark. Anna and I ended out perfect day in London with the nicest showers I’ve ever seen. Actually though. Anna seemed particularly excited about the soft water in the showers, rather than hard water. I liked the fact that they worked (shout out to our still broken upstairs shower).
I had such a great time today! London was really amazing, and I think we could not have made more of the city fit into the amount of time we had. But, tomorrow’s a big day. Time for my beauty sleep. That I obviously don’t need, right, you guys?


3 thoughts on “Diamonds and Double-Deckers

  1. Shout out to YOU, Kathleen… I have three holes in the kitchen ceiling which mean the second shower might be fixed!

    Lucky, lucky girls! Your fairy godmother Jolie has spoiled you both rotten! I just know you have been neat and tidy, helpful and thankful!!!! To both Jolie and Ray!

  2. Yes, thank you, Jolie and Ray, for your wonderful hospitality. There’s nothing like seeing a city with a native (or near native). I know there’s no time while Kathleen is there for this, but have you looked into the London walking tours?

    Prayers and love to Nonnie. She’s the best.

  3. Hey Sweet Ladies! So happy to learn about your great day and how wonderfully you have been treated by Jolie and Ray. A big thanks from me to them for taking such good care of you!!!

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