21 April 2011

Mom's Visit: London

To continue our story of Mom's visit, I now need to tell about our time in London. I want to start off by saying that London is a HUGE city, I think the biggest one I've ever been to in my entire life. But it was really pretty at the same time and didn't have the same sewer smell that a lot of big Spanish cities have, so that was really nice.
We arrived there Thursday afternoon and after checking into our hotel we went to the also very huge department store of Harrods.
Harrods carries everything that is expensive and luxurious, it has five stories and is just plain massive. I thought that the Macy's in Chicago was big (and it very well is), but Harrods feels a hundred times bigger; I'm not sure that it actually is, but it just has a feeling of greatness.
Every floor has it's own dinning area and not just a mall eating area, actual restaurants and cafes. All of the products are designer and there are a million sales representatives, so no one would ever be left waiting in line to be helped. It's a beautiful store overall, but also a tourist attraction in and of itself, so not the ideal shopping environment for someone with cash to blow. We ate a delicious, but very pricey, lunch there before heading over to see Buckingham Palace.
It pretty much looks like a building of political purpose and the statue of Queen Victoria in the front is very pretty with lots of depictions of Greek and Roman Gods as well. We walked around the Palace and watched the guards for a few minutes; it really is amazing that they don't move...seriously, they just stand there, not even a twitch!

Saint James' park is right next to Buckingham, so we took a nice stroll through it and watched all the funny little birds wander around. It's a beautiful park; there were tons of fresh, brightly colored flowers and a pond where the swans and ducks could swim. I was informed that it is a federal offense in London to harm or kill any swan because they are property of the Queen herself.
Then we walked over to Trafalgar Square where the National Gallery is and watched a few street performers, but we were all tired and went back to our hotel to find a place to eat. We ended up going to a pub just down the street that had amazing food. We all left so stuffed because we couldn't stop eating! I had fish with spinach and mashed potatoes and I got so full that I couldn't finish my Guinness.

The next day we got straight to touring London and first went to Westminster Abbey, unfortunately it's not allowed to take pictures in the Abbey, but it was gorgeous building with tombs and monuments of lots of historic figures. Mom was really excited to see the Abbey because of the Royal Wedding that is coming up at the end of the month. Across the street from the Abbey is Parliament and Big Ben, it was really cool to see both up close because they are so beautiful and intricately detailed.
Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

After the Abbey, we ate lunch at a cute little pub called Albert's and had more amazing food and beers! The English sure have the right idea of what comfort food is! I definitely couldn't eat it all the time, but dishes with mashed potatoes, roasted meat and cooked veggies covered in sauces and gravies are simply delicious...very different from Spanish food for sure!
Next we went to Westminster Cathedral, the largest cathedral in London and the one that still has frequent masses.
Westminster Cathedral

Inside the cathedral

The interior of the cathedral is amazing! All of the ceilings are mosaics made with tiny pieces of tile to create different scenes from the Bible and pictures of Saints. It was mesmerizing. The cathedral also has an elevator up to the top of the tower where you can get a great view of the entire city. It was really pretty up there, but I just like over-looks of cities anyway.

Our final destination for the day was the Tower of London. Despite what you might think, it's not a tower at all! It's actually the old fortress of London and was also used as a jail. It is right on the Thames river and was the place where Anne Boleyn was jailed and beheaded...if you know anything about English history that might be interesting to you.
Mom and Me with the Tower of London in the background.

The Tower is also where the crown jewels are currently kept, when the Royals are not using them. Unfortunately it's not allowed to take pictures of them either, but it was cool to see them. They are way too pretty and one of the scepters contains the world's largest cut diamond!
At the Tower you can see the Tower Bridge, which is the bridge commonly mistaken for the London Bridge, but we didn't go across it.
Tower Bridge

We were pretty exhausted after that and went back to the hotel to hang out and rest before dinner. We ended up going to the same pub we went the night before and all had wonderful food and beers once again!
The next morning, I left for Spain early in the morning and had to say goodbye to Mom, Donna and Cori (their flight back to the States left later in the day). Over all it was a wonderful trip and it was so great to spend time with my Mom...it's freaken hard to be away from her for such a long period time! And since she had just had shoulder surgery when I went home after Christmas, I couldn't hug her then, so it was nice to be able to give her lots of big hugs this visit! :)

Typical London picture!

Bye for now!

* P.S. - Sorry for the lateness of this post, I started it and just had time to finally finish it now. I will be posting a lot in the next few days about my birthday, the roadtrip to Portugal and Semana Santa here in Spain. :)

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