13 June 2011

Grayslake Reunion Part II: London, Day 1

Right before they passed out
on the train ride...

On Saturday morning Megan, Janice, and I awoke bright and early so we could catch a train down to London. After grabbing some coffee and bagels, we were on our way. We chatted and napped to pass the time and, before we knew it, we were pulling into King's Cross. After a very short while, we were jumping up and down and group hugging with Elizabeth. We were only a little bit excited....

Since we were already there, we figured it was the best time to take our first group tourist picture. After inadvertently wandering onto a construction site, we finally located Platform 9 3/4 - Harry Potter's finest attraction! Now, Elizabeth, Janice and I are HP buffs. We would spend summers at the pool in high school discussing the latest installment, bemoaning the loss of Sirius and Albus. Megan, however, is our last holdout. After years of friendship, we have yet to convert her. This, somehow, didn't stop her from joining in on the fun with only the slightest of eye rolls.
Right after the homeless man scared the bejesus out of Megan.
The gang at the Tower of London.
From there we made our way to our hotel, which was situated near the Tower of London. After dropping our things off, we decided to check out the glorified prison and its famous bridge. We decided not to pay the entry fee, but we did spend quite a bit of time on the surrounding steps admiring the view and enjoying some ice cream. Once again, we were thrilled to have such a beautiful day. There was nary a cloud in the sky. The last time I did all of the touristy things in London it poured the entire time, so I felt like I was experiencing the city for the first time all over again. Plus, the girls were there with me this time, so, ya know, that helped. :)
Oh man....we sure are artsy.
Sweet angle, dude.
Getting ready to walk across!
Elizabeth and me at the
Globe Theatre.
It seemed only logical that our next step would be to walk across the famed Tower Bridge. This is always a really cool experience, purely because the bridge is so incredibly massive. We took our time so as to admire the views and appreciate the breeze. Somehow, we managed to follow up that bridge with a much newer one. We put our walking in for the day and wound our way down the river to the Millennium Bridge. On our way we were lucky to spot some intense street dancing, the HMS Belfast, and the Globe Theatre. 
The Tower Bridge!

On the Tower Bridge, enjoying the majestic breeze.
Megan and me on Millennium Bridge.
Walking across the Millennium Bridge was an entirely new experience for me. Being an engineer's daughter and a member of the state-winning bridge building team for science olympiad (respect), I was especially impressed with the sleek design. Elizabeth was kind enough to share that when the bridge initially opened it shook so dangerously that it had to be closed for renovations. Thanks for that one, buddy. You could have waited until after I had walked across...
Millennium Bridge with St. Paul's Cathedral in the distance.
Mom Picture with
St. Paul's.
The Millennium Bridge leads right into St. Paul's Cathedral, so it was a no-brainer where our next stop would be. We had some fun taking pictures a la The Bean in Chicago. Outside St. Paul's are plenty of large, shiny orbs. Not sure what they're actually for, but they made for a good picture opportunity nonetheless. At this point we had pretty much exhausted all of the tourist attractions in that area. Since Megan's cousin was also in town, we decided to meet her under Big Ben. Oh, did I mention that Elizabeth (almost) ran into a pole on our way to the tube? With her face less than an inch away from the obstacle, she luckily caught herself. Beware of reading a map while walking!
The Bean in London? Yes, please!
The Eye! Basically a glorified
ferris wheel. But I'm not
It's Big Ben, duh!
We decided that since the weather was so flawless and there was a chance of rain for the next day that it was time to check out the London Eye. This was another entirely new experience for me, so I was particularly excited. Despite the slightly steep entrance fee, I have to say that it is entirely worth it. Like a massive ferris wheel, you are sequestered into a glass pod in which you can freely walk about. This allows for a 360-view of the city, so you're left to marvel at the famous landscapes. It takes about a half hour for it to go all the way around, so we had plenty of time to take a million pictures.

Looking down at one of the pods.
Mom Picture, back by popular demand.

View of Buckingham Palace
St. Paul's Cathedral

Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster

Janice and me - so cute!

Megs and me

Wait...we're missing someone...

There she is! The whole gang's here!

This is what happens when
you let us loose in London.
After dinner at a pub and a bit of rapping on the street on my part (Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song, anyone?), we headed back to the hotel. The hotel bar was surprisingly active, so we decided to make an appearance. We had a great time, despite the old man bachelor party that followed us around.   Direct Quote: "You all remind me of my daughters!" Creeptastic. 

That's all for now -- I will be sure to share the rest of our London adventure in the coming days! I'll just leave you with this picture, which will be the cover for Megan's forthcoming debut album entitled "I Heart London"
She makes riding the Tube look GOOD.

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