September 09, 2010

London, part deux

It has come to my attention that we do vacations a little differently than many people, so I thought I'd share the method behind our madness.

You see, I am an organizer. A planner by nature. So every day we were in London, we had an itinerary that looked something like this:

For those of you whose idea of vacation is curling up on the beach under an umbrella with a good book and something to sip on, it is difficult to explain why the above planning is a good thing. When you see an itinerary like mine, it's easy to imagine one of those obnoxious families with zinc oxide on their noses and an armful of cheap souvenirs hoofing it across Disney World, not really experiencing anything for the sake of a few fuzzy pictures and bragging rights to say they 'saw' it. At Stonehenge, I heard an Australian couple say they 'did London yesterday.' I couldn't help but cringe. I like the touristy stuff as much as the next person, but you can't 'do' any city in a day and get a real feel for it.

So while we plan down to a tee, we rarely stick to the schedule and take it all with a grain of salt. Google Maps is bound to be wrong. Hours of operation sometimes change. Trains get delayed. We can't possibly do everything. 

So why make the itinerary at all, you ask?  Because I feel out of my element when I go into something uprepared. Doing research beforehand allows me to relax and be comfortable while on vacation. Because being able to look at hours and days of operation, knowing how to get where, and seeing what we want to do in a day or a week allows us to move things around easily, to make decisions quickly and stress-free. It makes vacation go more smoothly, especially when you don't have readily available access to the internet, as was our case.

Case in point: our first full day in London we planned to visit Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, and Harrods, but it was 60 degrees and raining - too cold and wet for someone who, only 36 hours before, had boarded a plane in 98 degree heat (it should be noted that Bear loves cooler weather and had no complaints). So Hyde Park was out of the question, and we moved it to another day.

So now you know how I vacay.

Onto more pictures!

(BTW, photography was not allowed in almost any building, including Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey, so you won't see any pictures of the interiors of them.)

Well, we saw this:

Which my friend/nemesis Mark says is dubbed 'TKMAXX' instead of the real thing so as not to be confused with 'TJ HUGHES,' a popular British retailer.

This pizza was 5-alarm HOT! Delicious, too!
We had a Cabrese pizza at a chain restaurant called Pizza Express in Notting Hill (yup, like the movie!), which was much closer to fine Italian dining than Pizza Hut. We ended up liking Pizza Express so much that we ate there twice more over our vacation.
Hot chocolate and a 2 inch, £3.50 'canolo' from Pizza Express, which translates to a $5 cannoli! (We didn't have dessert there again).
A Dyson hand dryer. These were all over London.
Harrods, which is beautiful and interesting, but also extremely overpriced. Harrods sells some of the most expensive brands in the world, such as Tiffany and Rolex, but they also sold some very overpriced, average merchandise, including what appeared to be off-brand pantyhose for £30 (~$50)!

The Diana and Dodi Memorial in Harrods
The former owner of Harrods, Mohammad al Fayed, was the father of Diana's last boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, who was killed in the 1997 crash along with Diana. This memorial was pretty, but disappointing in that it seemed to be more of a tourist draw/propaganda (al Fayed has long claimed that the British Royal Family conspired to kill Diana and Dodi) than a poignant memorial to two departed souls.
And finally!
The best thing about Harrods: they have a Ladurée! Ladurée is the creme de la creme of macaroon-makers (or macaron, as the French say). I've wanted to try a Ladurée macaroon since January when Stephanie Perkins went to Paris and extolled Ladurée's virtues, and thanks to Harrods, I was able to!

[Clockwise from top left] Vanilla, pistachio, salted caramel, coconut, chocolate
The dark chocolate was very chocolatey, and the others were quite sweet, but the salted caramel was definitely my favorite! I was surprised at how creamy the filling in each macaroon was. I'll have to try to bake some of these myself one day!

Tomorrow: our daytrip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath, plus St. Paul's!

PS - Emilia Plater is having a punkiversay contest to celebrate one year of her blog, Punk Writer Kid. Head on over by midnight tonight to enter to win an insane number of prizes, including copies of THE DUFF and MOCKINGJAY!


The Blue Lipstick Samurai said...

Alright, you are way super organized. Whoa. I'd have a list of places I want to see and a map at the most, but I'd probably lose the map. Did you see most of what you wanted to see?

That hot chocolate totally reminded me of Naked Chocolate, but that canoli looks like a cocktail frank. D: Lesigh.

I REALLY want to try baking those macaroons; I have a recipe that can be manipulated easily for all flavors, sooo as soon as that oven works... This procrastination is terrible.

Can't wait for Stonehenge!

Abby Stevens said...

We did see most of the things we wanted. My feet got blistered pretty bad and the Friday we were there we had to miss Shakespeare's Globe (for which we already had tickets :() in order to go to a mall and get me some shoes that wouldn't maim me. Other than that, we mostly only missed little things!

Looking back at yesterday's post, I realized I promised Stonehenge today! Oops! Tomorrow for sure, though.

The hot chocolate reminded me of Naked Chocolate, too, but the canolo... eesh. I get this ridiculously good cannoli from a local restaurant that is 6 or 8 inches long, full of chocolate chips, and only $5! I can't wait to go back to that restaurant and tell them theirs is way better than the European equivalent!

Molly said...

I am in love with your vacation. Total Anglophile myself, I'm REALLY jealous, but glad you took pictures, and SUPER glad you're back! We missed you, didn't we Glenna? :D It's funny, I'm a planner-type when if comes to vacations too. Like you, I enjoy having the trip roughly planned so that I can just enjoy it!

Abby Stevens said...

Thanks, Molly! I'm glad to hear you are a planner like me!

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