Friday, October 28, 2016

England: London Day 1 and 2

When we hopped off our train at King's Cross Station, we grabbed our luggage and headed straight for Platform 9 3/4. This is what it looked like when we got there! There is a gift shop and a cart sticking partially out of the brick wall, as well as a big winding line and professional photographers to take your photo. It was fantastic!
Chris humored me and waited with me in line for almost an hour. It happened to be a Saturday, so who knows if the line was longer because of that or not, but at any rate, I WAS GOING TO GET MY PICTURE TAKEN. Ha ha!

There is a guy whose sole job it is to throw your scarf when the photographer takes his picture. MAGIC.

And yes, I paid like 20 GBP for the two professional photos to take home, because DUH.
I mean, do I look a little excited?? I WAS. Then I went inside the Platform 9 3/4 gift shop and milled around for a bit. They had Gryffindor scarves and personalized Hogwarts acceptance letters and time turner necklaces, oh my. It was actually so overwhelming that all I bought was some chocolate bars that said Platform 9 3/4 on it. Ha.
Then we bought an Oyster Card for each of us and hopped on the Tube to the Kensington Stop towards our hotel. We checked in at the Pelham hotel, which was lovely. It was right across the street from a tube stop, right down the street from a few museums and the LDS church, and on the same road as Harrod's. Plus, Kensington was just a lovely neighborhood. So pretty and clean (but really, all of London was really clean). In Kensington they don't let hotels put out street signs, they're only allowed right on the wall next to the door. It keeps the neighborhoods looking lovely.

Our room was great, pretty spacious and had a nice bathroom (which was a good thing because it was our most expensive hotel), but we loved it and would stay there again.

We dumped our bags, relaxed for a bit, and then decided to just walk up the street to see what we could see. It turns our Harrod's was right on our street, so we headed right in to look around.
It was beautiful and all lit up. I've never seen anything like it inside. The inside was so overwhelming!
They had an apple store, a microsoft store, a Disney store, a seafood counter, food counters, a hair salon, an ATV store -- you name it, all inside.
Oh, and a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Inside!
Then we walked back towards our hotel, ate dinner at Leons (Mediterranean and yummy), and then hopped on the tube to Covent Garden. We walked through Chinatown.
We saw the Book of Mormon Play theater.
We saw Piccadilly Square.
It was pretty neat. And bumpin! Because, Saturday night, I guess. But it was really fun to walk around. It felt a lot like New York City, just buzzing and full of people.
When we were finally pooped, we hopped on the tube back to our hotel, grabbed some gelato across the street (duh), and crashed for the night.
We woke up early the next morning to go to church at 9:00 AM at the nearby ward building. We ate some granola bars for breakfast and walked three minutes up the street to arrive just in time for church. Well it turns out, it was Stake Conference in London that day, too. So we were an HOUR early for church. The missionaries invited us in, and we sat on some of the benches in the lobby area and watched a few videos about the history of the church in the Hyde Park Stake. Some of them were really interesting.
When it was time for Stake Conference to start, we went into the chapel and found a soft bench to sit on.

The mission presidents from the London England mission and the London Temple both spoke. It turns out, the London England mission presidents actually are my brother's good friend's parents, and only live about half a mile from our house in Cottonwood Heights, but I didn't realize at the time that's who they were! Small world.
After church we walked back to our hotel and grabbed our laundry that never got washed in York, and walked up the road to a laundromat. It was like 5 GBP per wash load and 1GBP per ten minutes in the dryer. Soooo expensive! The only argument we had on this trip happened in this laundromat, when Chris tried to convince me I could wear all my shirts one more time without needing to wash them, ha ha. Ummmm, NO!

After we dropped off our clean laundry, we took the tube up to Notting Hill Gate and basically walked West to East all the way across London, starting with Notting Hill and ending at Buckingham Palace.
First we walked towards Kensington Palace down the street where all the ambassadors live. I guess you're not supposed to take photos on this street, but hi, I'm a tourist, so I'm going to take pictures. Ha.

Me out in front of Kensington Palace, where Will & Kate live.

A cool fountain back in the Kensington Gardens.
The huge lake in Kensington Gardens. It's like their backyard is just this giant public park. Kind of cool.
We found a nice bench to rest on, and Chris had to throw up some school pride.

Walking towards Albert Memorial.

The Victoria & Albert Museum, right across the street from the Memorial.
It was just a beautiful fall day!

The Peter Pan statue.
At some point you cross a road in this giant park and it becomes Hyde Park. Here is the Princess Diana memorial fountain in Hyde Park.
The Serpentine, a huge lake in the middle of Hyde Park. It had boats and paddle boats on it.
Kitty-corner from Hyde Park is Green Park, where Buckingham Palace is located. We walked through Wellington Arch to get into Green Park.
The gates into the Buckingham Palace area.
The Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. It wasn't very crowded today because there was no changing of the guard today.
Palace guards.

Buckingham Palace selfies. Sometimes it's hard to get a good one with this guy.

After Buckingham Palace, we took the tube back down to Regent's Street to do some shopping. The tube ended up being SO convenient and easy to use. There were stops everywhere, and the service was fast and slick. Plus with the Oyster card, you could rack up a maximum of like 6 GBP per day and after that it stopped charging you. So on the days we used it, we just used it hard. It was so great.

I bought a few pairs of rain boots for the boys at the Hunter store, because they were like fifteen dollars cheaper in London than they are here at Nordstrom! Crazy.
I kept seeing this store everywhere we went. I wanted to go in, really bad, but I resisted. Ha!
We took the tube back to our hotel, ate some dinner, and then facetimed our kiddos before crashing for the night.

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