Our first stop was Westminster Cathedral (not Abbey), the church my mom used to go to when she lived in London. The Cathedral pops out of nowhere in between chain shops and restaurants in a busy part of the city. It was super dark inside as not many of the planned mosaics have been installed, but I think it just added to its ambiance. I especially liked the Cathedral because they didn't bat an eye to us walking around with all of our luggage.
We lit a candle in the chapel where my mom prayed after she found out she was pregnant with me (I'm sure she was praying very hard).
We stayed in an area close to Notting Hill where writer James Barrie used to live. This was the only European hotel where we had to share a bathroom with strangers; the rooms were so small they could only fit sinks.
One of my favorite places in London was the Courtlaud Galleries (not surprising since I'm a huge art lover). We used the Rick Steves audio guide in the museum - if you haven't already noticed, Rick Steves was a big part of our European vacation. I'm so glad we had his tour - it gave us extra information on the best pieces of the museum, which Paul especially appreciated since he had no idea what any of the art was. I married him for his looks, not his art history knowledge.
The rest of that first day we followed Rick Steves' (see I told you!) historic London audio tour. It took us through the heart of the City of London. Let me convince you further why audio guides are such a great idea. First, you gain a deeper knowledge of where you're visiting. Second, you gain this knowledge without having to look down at a book the whole time you're walking. Third, following the different stops is like following an amazing scavenger hunt. Fourth, you look awesome wearing your head phones on public streets (right???).
The audio tour included a stop at Twinings tea shop (pronounced twine-ings). This tea shop has been around since the 1700s and feels like something right out of Harry Potter. I bought the most delicious orange and cinnamon rooibos tea here, and it's helping me to "make everyday glorious." I found out that you can get Twinings in the US, but what I found doesn't have the same great look that the British brand does.
The obligatory telephone booth photo. Our roles probably should have been reversed for this photo op.
Our tour took us by The Black Friar, one of the oldest pubs in London.
At this friary turned pup, we ordered our first British fish and chips - and even ordered it at the bar like real Londoners. Paul got a cask ale to wash his dinner down, and I drank a yummy apple cider.
After dinner we found St. Paul's Cathedral - closed, yet still impressive.
We also found THE Monument, a tribute to the survivors and devastation caused by the Great Fire of 1666. The fire was great for getting rid of the plague, not so great for preserving the historic buildings of the city. [We tried on this photo, but again I think our roles should have been reversed. Paul's much better at setting these up (which you'll see in some of our Paris photos).]
And finally, we crossed the great London Bridge and saw a beautiful view of the city and the Thames. This was another one of those pinch-me moments.
You can't tell where we are in this last photo, but you can tell we're happy.
London Part 2 (RAIN) will be up later today!