Tuesday, March 22, 2011

22/3/11- It's a marathon not a sprint

    Oh where to begin.  Tera and Ed came to visit for a week.  I knew it would be a busy, packed week but I had no idea that we would see THAT much or do THAT much.  By the end of the week I was beat and my immune system was down for the count.  I guess that is why I haven't really blogged.  I have been trying to fight off this cold instead.
   I was well aware that Tera and Ed had been "training" for this trip but for me it felt like a marathon at a sprinter's speed.  No, I can't even make that comparison because I never actually ran a marathon.  I guess if I were to run a marathon it would probably feel like that week.  I don't have much time to write and if I explained about EVERYTHING we did you would be reading for weeks.  It would be like a marathon blog post.  I will try hard to keep it short despite the folder I have on my desktop with 100 or so photos waiting to be uploaded (that won't take long).  I had an amazing week with those two and I'm glad that we were as active as we were.  We had great weather, for the most part, and we crossed everything off of their "must see" list.  Here is a short breakdown of our week:

Saturday:  The visitors arrive late in the evening.  Home, snacks then out for beers.

Sunday:  Early rise. Full English breakfast. Take the tube to Westminster to see Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey. Rain, drizzle, walk along the river to Tate Britain.  Art art art.  Walk to National Gallery.  Stumble upon giant St. Patrick's Day parade and celebration in Trafalgar Square.  TONS of public drunkenness.  More art art art.  Wine bar.  Walk to Buckingham Palace.  Walk through Hyde Park.   Tube back home for Sunday Roast.

Monday:  Early rise.  Tube to Westminster Pier.  We catch a river tour cruise to Tower of London.  Sun is out.  Nice and warm on our faces but the wind is chilly.  Tower of London tour.  Long tour but very, very cool. We see the crown jewels, armor, and the torture chamber.  Walk to St. Paul's cathedral.  Tera and Ed pay to go in. I linger around and sneak in when they open the church for prayers.  Back towards home. Meet Sean at White Horse Pub for dinner and drinks.

Tuesday:  Early rise.  Hop on train and head out to Salisbury.  From the train station we catch a cab to Stonehenge.  Walk around in the sun looking at old confusing rocks.  Watch sheep in all the meadows.  Dream about living in a little cottage out here.  Taxi back to Salisbury.  Salisbury market.  Walk around town.  Warm out! We lug our sweaters and jackets.  Tea and light lunch.   Salisbury Cathedral with our personal tour guide Michael.  Sooooo cool!  Magna Carta! Sooooo cool!!!!! Long tour.  Walk around some more.  Oogling the little houses and beautiful gardens.  We went into some house. I forget the name.  Have more tea and cake.  Exhausted.  Walk some more.  Have a pint at Haunch of Venison Pub.  Head back home on the train.  Exhausted.

Wednesday:  Really early rise.  Train to Paris.  We get stuck just outside the Chunnel.  There is a train stuck in the Chunnel.  It cut hours out of our Paris time but I got to sleep more on the train.  We land in Paris.  Whirlwind! Bus? Metro? We decide to figure out the metro.  Tera and Ed purchase us all day tickets.  Study the map then it's off to Notre Dame.  Tour the church.  It's dark, loud, packed with tourists.  A bit disappointing.  At that point I was done with crowds I think.  We leave for lunch and a bathroom break.  Back out to the metro and on our way to the Eiffel Tower. The line for the elevator up is too long so we take the steps.  Up up up.  Only to the second deck not the very top but still felt like we were on top of the world.  On top of France.  Windy and cold and we head back down. I take a movie on the way down.  17 minutes long.  When I have time I will edit it, speed it up and post it.  Quick look at the iphone and we head to Arc de Triomphe.  Huge.  Tera and Ed pay to go to the top. Sean and I stay on the ground and watch the nutty traffic circling the thing.  Back towards the train station.  We have dinner at a cafe and Sean and Ed eat snails.  Sean eats a sausage that is made of raw cow stomachs.  Gross.  Back on the train.  So tired.  Back to London.

Thursday:  Sleep in a bit. A tiny bit.  Head out to visit West Minster Abbey.  We go inside. No photos allowed.  Again it's filled with tourists.  We see a lot of tombs and monuments.  Poets corner.  Issac Newton and Darwin's tomb plus a ton of queens and kings.  After the church we are hungry so we head to Borough Market.  We CHOW DOWN.  Stomachs full and heavy it is off to the London Eye.  We beat the mad crowd and jump on.  Hello London!  The sun comes out and shines down on the city.  We hop off and head to Chiswick.  Stroll along the river.  Ed looks for fossils.  Bell and Crown for pints.  Sean meets us. We have dinner.  Then hit a couple more pubs.  Our St. Patty's day pub crawl. Believe me, I was crawling.

Friday: I wake up feeling ill so I send Tera and Ed off on their own. I am overly confident that they will be fine now that they have a good understanding of the tube.  I sleep till 3:30pm.  They arrive back home and we all take the bus to mall to eat some dinner and walk around.

Saturday: I want to sleep. I feel sick.  Tera seems to have caught something.  Not a fun way to end the trip.  We see our travelers off as they take a taxi to the airport.  I go back to bed and sleep for three days straight.

  And...a week's worth of photos:

There's our happy travelers!

Cheers to the first pints in London.  The pub was packed on
a Saturday night and we had to sit outside with all the smokers.

Houses of Parliament.

Tera and Ed.

Inside the Tate Britain  in the modern art section.

Tate Britain.  Rooms and rooms filled
with yummy Turners.  

Watch out for those chippings.

This is like an optical illusion.

Oh you guys!

Oh hey look! A parade!

They made off with a nice bunch of balloons. 

Inside the National Gallery.  Waiting for Tera and Ed to
finish up.  Sean had gotten one of those audio guides
and we were learning about that big ol painting there. 

HAD to take them to Gordon's Wine Bar.  

Just a nice cozy moment. 

Tera and Ed among the daffodils.  It had
stopped raining at this point but the air
was still chilly.

At the gates of Buckingham Palace.  This was
the first time I had seen the place in daylight.

The lion and unicorn were fighting for the crown.
The lion beat the unicorn all around the town.
Some gave them white bread, and some gave them brown,
Some gave them plum cake and drummed them out of town. 

Sean, his sick stache and gold angels. 

Walk through Hyde Park.  Spring is here. 

Sunday Roast.  

Oh hey Big Ben!

Our tour guide on the cruise.

Oh hey the London Eye.  

Inside the Tower of London we joined the tour
that had just started before we got there. MASSIVE
groups listening to this guy.  Very interesting.  I
would like to learn more. 

Knowledge in the Beef Eater. 

Blue sky delight. 

Sick armor displays.  

How could someone wear that?

Just crazy.

The room with all the horses and head.  I totally forgot
what it was called but it had all the horses that the kings had
and portraits of their heads.  That was a horrible description. 

I kind of want a giant model horse. 

Aw Tera had a treat for him.

Tera standing next to the cannon balls to
demonstrate their size. 

Ed and a crossbow.  Enough said. 

Tera in her helmet. 

Traitor's Gate.  If you came through that
you probably weren't leaving alive. 

Tera and her new friend. 

The memorial where everyone was beheaded.

A raven of the Tower.  Story has it that when
the flock of ravens leave the tower then England
will fall and the land will burn.  They cheat though...
they clip the ravens' wings and have a raven keeper
that takes care of the birds.....

Prisoners' graffiti. 

A look out at another giant tour. 


To be honest I can not remember what any
of these buildings were.  This may have been
White Tower. 

Inside there were the crown jewels. No photos

The contraption used to raise and lower
the massive scary gate.
Outside of St. Paul's Cathedral.  I couldn't take
photos inside.  Outside these guys were doing
a photo shoot.  

The sheep in Salisbury. 

Stonehenge.  To be honest I thought it would be bigger.
But it was still really cool.  I did not listen to the audio
guide as much as I should have. I was too busy trying
to take photos and figure out my camera.  

I bought some books on the way out and
hopefully I can read more about this.  

I wish I hadn't been so distracted.  I really would have liked
to have soaked it all in.  I think Tera and Ed did though. 

It was such a gorgeous day and so refreshing to be away from
the city and out of the crowds.  So much open space
and sheep!

Tera and Ed excited about ancient rocks. 

Tera heading up a dirt road to catch a glimpse
at the sheep and burial mounds. 

Love it. 

Tera and Ed!

Young kids pretending to be in olden times. 

Salisbury Cathedral.  What a wonderful day! It kept getting
warmer and warmer out.  Bluebird skies and everyone seemed
to be out enjoying the sunshine.  

Of course we wore heavy jackets, sweaters,
hats and scarves.  By midday we were lugging
everything around town.  

Ah! Spring! Blues and greens with pink houses!
Everyone out sitting on the lawn.  Fresh green
springy grass under foot! 

Can you find Tera and Ed? What a gorgeous
cathedral.  You could tell that they put a lot
of money into the upkeep and restoration of this


A display showing what the construction site
may have looked like.  I had just finished reading
"Pillars of the Earth" and this reminded me so
much of the book.  

Once inside we were greeted by this man, Michael.  He
gave us a free tour of the place.  He told us so much and
had so much great history to share.  Here he is trying to
explain to Ed how this midevil clock works.  

The reflection of a stained glass window in
the Baptismal font. 

The ceiling.  I'm sure that's not proper
cathedral language.  I should know
better after all those years of art history. 

The strong box where all the Cathedral's
valuables were kept.  Four different locks
meant that four different people had keys
so it could only be accessed when they were
all together. 


About to go check out the Magna Carta.  You
couldn't take photos and there was another tour
guide waiting there to give us another history lesson.
How amazing it was to see that. It was so well preserved.
The writing was so tiny and perfect.  Amazing.  I feel
so lucky for having seen that.  

Walking the roads in Salisbury.  

Isn't that the most adorable little potting shed?
I could live in that!

Love this house. 

After the trip to Salisbury Tera began walking
around and talking about how they would
grow their gardens.  How they would need to
build a big wall, like this one, to keep the
deer out.  Then they could plant their shrubs,
and flowers, and veggies and have their own
little secret gardens.  Everyone that comes to
visit catches the "I want a pretty garden bug".

Moss and steeples. 

Boom! Paris! Notre Dame! Bonjour!

Inside dark Notre Dame. 

Tera lighting a candle in front of St. Theresa. 

This was nuts. INSIDE the church there were
those souvenier coin machines where you
put a penny in and it flattens it with a picture.
I love those (so does my nephew) but really?
In a CHURCH?  So much for a nice quiet atmosphere.
Loud tourists. Screaming kids.  Flashes.
Where is the peace? Where is the prayer? The holiness?
I dunno...there was something that just made me itch.
Maybe by this point I was sick of the crowds.  Maybe our
personal tour through the empty, bright, quiet Salisbury
Cathedral set the bar too high.  I'm not saying I didn't
enjoy it.  I just found myself getting caught up in
everything that wasn't the cathedral...the kids, the
noise, the tourists.  I couldn't focus. 

Sean the French guy.

Guess where we are!!!!!!!

From the first deck.

Hello below. 

Ah sun glare. 

The line for the elevators.  WIMPS.

Tera, Ed and Paris. 

Maybe he's sad because he's leaving the tower?

Arc de triomphe. 

Kissy kissy oui oui

Back in London and onto the London Eye.

A pod and the Aquarium. 

The sun came out!

Bell and Crown.  This is where my photos end.  Tera and Ed
are busy writing out postcards to their friends.  We are having
our St. Patrick's Day beer and watching the sunset on the river.
What a great week.  We got so much in.  So many sites.
So many new things for me too.  There's still so so so much
out there to explore and with the warmer weather and longer days
I think I'll be able to get out more. I may not have many
marathon days like the ones with Tera and Ed but
maybe I should....so I can get everything in!