How do you maximize your time when you only have one day in a big city? That was our question. We weren’t supposed to go to London at all but because the airfare from Frankfurt to Birmingham was absolutely ridiculous, decided to do a flash visit by entering the UK via London City Airport.
We chose to stay at the London Sunborn Hotel, which really was as charming as it seems in photos. It was a nice way to have non-traditional feel while we were there. We basically got the feeling of being in a beautiful, wood-paneled cabin aboard a luxury yacht without the crowding of hundreds of other people! We got there super early–like 8:00 in the morning, which may as well be 3:00 am in hotel time but luckily we were greeted by a very friendly receptionist named Chantel. She got us checked in and upgraded with no problem. Excellent customer service right out of the gate.
After settling in we decided to take a power nap then head down for breakfast. This is when we got our first cultural introduction to London. Monica decided she wanted to be adventurous and try something new on the menu. She chose “black pudding.” It looked weird and neither of us knew what it was. Cheril put it on my plate too but was still suspicious. After one bite Monica’s face lost it’s color. Suddenly she remembered something off about it—she didn’t know what was in it, but somewhere in her mind she could recall it not being something we’d knowingly digest. Enter Google. (Why didn’t we think of that first?) Anyway, black pudding is defined as a type of blood sausage commonly eaten in Britain and Ireland. It is generally made from pork blood and a relatively high proportion of oatmeal.
Um, hell no. Monica pushed the rest aside and chugged some water while Cheril promptly tossed hers off her plate. No thanks! Why would they do such a thing??? The other food pairings were interesting: eggs with baked beans, fish sticks, bacon, etc. Those were fine although the pairings took some getting used to.
There were some hiccups later that evening–like a problem in the kitchen that forced us to go elsewhere for dinner, but the hotel staff handled it as gracefully as they could. They were very apologetic and we’re sure that had we been able to keep our reservation it would have been a lovely meal. Sunborn is a bit out of the way from downtown, but it was nice and quiet.
To maximize our day in London we chose do to a Big Bus Hop on Hop off tour. We figured we’d get to see all of the major landmarks and pick one or two to explore.
Overall, we think it was worth it. We saw all of the major spots first, some we’d known about and some we didn’t. Then after the first go round on one of the tour lines we decided to hop off and take a 30-minute walking tour of the exquisite Buckingham Palace!
Photography is not allowed inside the palace so you must do your best to take in all of the magnificence and remember it. Of course, they’re happy to sell you a book with most of the rooms in the palace as you are checking in for your tour. LOL. We had to buy it, the place was just too stunning to only see once. We’re incapable of describing it much more without sounding trite so we will leave it as a very high recommendation to do if you find yourself in London!
When the tour ended, it was raining. Again. No surprise there, lol. Although it did kill the opportunity to go out on the famous great lawn.
We picked up some Palace umbrellas and braved it back out into the city.
London, like most European cities, has absolutely stunning architecture. It’s one of those perks that only old, established countries have. While we enjoyed seeing them all, we also realized how similar big cities feel after you get over the few landmark buildings. London felt just like New York City, but with nicer buildings. The people, the pace, the litter, all of it—same big city feel. Anti-war protesters and all (see below).
The day was a long one and we were glad to get back to Sunborn to rest up for the next leg of our trip, which was to visit Cheril’s family in Birmingham. It was as we were getting ready for those train rides that Monica started to get irritated, as she usually does, with big cities. “Everywhere we go in the UK there are crumbs! And trash! Crumbs everywhere!” She can’t help it. I mean, we both prefer countryside and suburbs to big cities at this point, but Monica has a harder time dealing with it. Just check out her antics aboard a Virgin train the next day (we were told Virgin was the best, but boy did they fail). She said she was allergic to nasty…
It’s unfortunate that the video got clipped right before she ranted about the train being despicable, deplorable and disgusting! “Hair, crumbs, dirt, and God knows what else–this is supposed to be the best? It’s just unsanitary!”
This makes me (Cheril) wonder just how well an Amtrak trip around the country (with her and friends) is going to go. Monica says if she must endure “these conditions,” she will bring her own sanitizer, Clorox wipes and seat cover. LOL. Someone help me with her–please? LOL
A few more pics are below:
That’s all for now…