Thursday, July 10, 2014

16 Fabulous days in the UK and Europe! Drew's Senior Trip (a little early...)

So for the past year and a half I have been planning the trip of a lifetime for our family. It inevitably turned into a "senior" trip for Drew when we decided that doing the big senior year trip the summer before he graduates made more sense than trying to squeeze it in next summer given graduation, open house, college orientation and a summer job. It worked out perfectly to do it this summer!

We started out as just the kids and me since Tommy wasn't finished up with summer conditioning for football quite yet. It was fine anyway since the kids and I started our first week on our own doing London and Paris and pretty much repeated the exact same trip that Tommy and I took last year.

I will start the blog with our first 3 days in London and then add each city/area on subsequent blog entries. We took the redeye into Heathrow and landed on June 21st and headed via the tube from Heathrow (which is super easy and CHEAP) directly to our fabulous hotel, the Renaissance St. Pancras. This is exactly the hotel where Tommy and I stayed last year and due to the fantastic asst manager I emailed she hooked us up with the exact same junior suite which was amazing!!! It is now our absolute FAVORITE London hotel and the only place we will stay when visiting London!

One of the great perks of all the travel I do for business is the miles and points! I was able to use Delta miles for my business class seat and one of the kids economy comfort seats.

Is it wrong that the kids sat in economy while I sat in business???


Here comes my awesome flight attendant with the goodie cart after dinner! :-)

Ice cream sundaes made to order and fantastic wine! What could be better??? Oh... well maybe a lay flat bed to sleep! The problem is once you fly up front you never want to sit in the back again! :-/

We took the Piccadilly line on the tube straight from Heathrow to our hotel which is right at St. Pancras/Kings Cross Station. Christina Huethwohl, an asst manager there hooked us up with our junior suite and this view from our room!

Jen immediately spotted all of the Amy Winehouse prints in the hotel 
and this one in the Chambers Club where we had breakfast every morning and I had wine and
canap├ęs in the evening! :-)

and another cool Amy print in our room! If we could have found a way to nick that piece of art there may have been a white spot on the wall after we departed!!

beautiful hotel

Drew has decided that the Chambers Club is awfully fancy for him!! Haha!

Incidentally this is the hotel that was used for the flying car scenes from Harry Potter! It's the train station where the kids all went to catch the Hogwarts Express!

We were pretty tired but we ventured out to Buckingham Palace and tried to see 
the changing of the guard

We took a walk through St James park and the views were lovely

It was tough to get close enough to the palace with the crowds but we ended up catching the guards as they rehearsed their parade music which was very cool!

I love all of the pomp and circumstance around the traditional changing of the guard!!

It wouldn't be London without the requisite pic of someone coming out of the London phone booth!

We were pretty wiped out from travel and headed back to the hotel and had a fabulous dinner in the Booking Office which is the hotel's swanky pub of sorts.


We slept in and then headed off to Westminster Abbey for church services and to hear the amazing Abbey boys choir!


no cameras allowed but maybe I snuck one with my iPhone! Awesome!

We met up with my British friend Karen who traveled in from outside of London and joined us for church and then lunch at our favorite pub the Three (Free) Tuns!

My first (of many) Aspall's ciders! YUM! My favorite!!

We then headed out shopping as Jen had some £££ burning a hole in her pocket!

Drew was thrilled...

Karen and I headed back for wine in the club and the kids and I ventured out to
Piccadilly circus and chinatown for dinner and called it a night.


Jen's top priority was to get to Camdentown and walk in the footsteps of her favorite musician and idol
Amy Winehouse!

Here is Jen in front of The Hawley Arms, the pub where Amy got her start!

the off to the market! SO COOL! I can't believe I lived in Regent's Park area for 4 months and never went to Camden Market!

Food stalls and vendors everywhere

Open air food market

the biggest burgers I have ever seen!

Back to the pub for a pint. Such cool Amy W stuff everywhere including this pic that she signed...

in the pub

For the record she's just posing with my Aspall's!

graffiti homages all over the bathroom to her... some quite funny!

Jen had to see her house

After leaving Camdentown we headed over to see the Churchill War rooms. Drew was very interested in this since he had just finished taking World History and could actually see evidence of much of what he had studied.

I didn't take pics because Tommy and I went last year and took pics but it's a very cool thing to do and we highly recommend it!

Finally we ended up at the London Eye. Tommy and I didn't do this last year because we are both... well let's just say we get the willies with heights anymore! In any case there is a large seat in the middle of the giant pod you go up in for chickens like me. The view was breathtaking! Easily the best view of London anywhere and in my opinion beat hands down going up in the Eiffel Tower!

this is me trying to smile while standing a bit too close to the edge thank you!

WOW! What a view!

Finally Tuesday morning we headed down to the St Pancras station attached to the hotel and
jumped on the Eurostar and headed for Paris! 

2 hour train ride and then
Bienvenue a Paris!

Stay tuned for all of our Paris fun on the next post!

BYE LONDON! It's been fun!

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