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deladane

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    San Jose, CA (originally Long Island, NY)
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  1. Oh no! My bad! He definitely said this was the London Bridge, but maybe he meant the bridge in the background and I just didn't hear that detail? Thanks for the correction 🙂
  2. OMG! Kim! I just read the post about your leg... How horrible! Glad your surgery went well and sending you wishes for a speedy recovery! As a Home Health PT, I can't help but recommend you remove all your throw rugs (kitchen, bathroom, front hall, etc.) and any clutter (shoes, dog toys, etc.) to keep you safe when using the crutches. And since I know you and your family are night owls, make sure to turn on a lamp or use a nightlight when moving around after dark so you don't have another fall! And of course, when you can finally start PT, do your exercises!!
  3. Yay! So excited I found your newest review!! Looks like I have a lot of catching up to do. I can't wait to see what you did each day in port since this is almost the same itinerary as we did in March 🤩
  4. As the sun set and the sky got darker, the buildings looked even more beautiful! Standing in the same spot, I turned to the left to take this photo. This is the train station bridge at night, so you can imagine how pretty the view is from here! People often confuse Tower Bridge and London Bridge. I showed some photos of Tower Bridge from the river cruise earlier this afternoon. It is the one with the two towers! London Bridge is a fairly boring bridge during the day, but at night, it is lit up with bright colors. It was so pretty to see the colors reflecting on the river! By this point in the tour, the temperatures dipped down to the low 50’s and the wind was blowing so strongly that it was hard to stand still enough to take a good photo! Those light jackets we brought along were not cutting it and everyone on the tour was shaking because it was so cold! Luckily, Matt took us on a detour away from the river, so the buildings helped to block the wind, but it was still very cold! We passed this mural of Shakespeare. This is one of the things I love about walking tours… we would have never found this spot on our own. Around the corner from that mural, Matt showed us The Clink Prison Museum, which used to be a medieval prison. It is located in a back alley one block from the river, but again, we would never have seen that if not for the walking tour. It was now 10:45pm and I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open. The next stop on the tour was going to be out on London Bridge to see the view of the Tower Bridge lit up at night, but I was just way too cold and tired to continue on. We told Matt we needed to leave and tipped him for is efforts. The London Bridge Underground station was close by, so we walked over there to head back to our hotel. Exiting at Kings Cross Station, I was so happy they had an escalator because I really didn’t have the strength to walk up all those stairs! It was amazing how clean the Underground stations were in London. Having lived in New York City for six years, I don’t think I ever saw a subway station this clean! We got back to our hotel around 11:30pm (which felt like 12:30am thanks to the time zone change), and we were fast asleep within minutes of hitting the pillows! Fitbit Daily Summary… Steps: 24,738, Miles: 11.97, Flights of Stairs: 24 (had I lasted for the end of the walking tour, that would have tipped me over 25,000 steps and over 12 miles today… soooo close!)
  5. Our tour guide’s name was Matt and he moved to London from Poland a few years ago. Matt was a great guide, offering lots of funny anecdotes and interesting information about the sites along the Thames. I really enjoyed taking this tour in the evening and getting to see some of the activity along the river at night, and of course the buildings all looked so beautiful in the twilight glow. There were about 30 people on the tour with us, so it was probably the biggest group I’ve had for walking tour. Our first stop was to see Parliament and Big Ben from across the river. In the foreground, you can see the pier where our tour boat docked earlier this afternoon to let more people onto our already-crowded sightseeing boat. Turning in the other direction, we could see Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges, with Charing Cross Station glowing in red in the distance. This was not a part of the tour, but we walked past this huge skate park under a terrace for the building above. I looked it up and this skate park was built in the 1970’s. We continued walking along the river, stopping every few minutes so Matt could tell us a story about London’s history. I wished those barges weren’t in the river because they were blocking a beautiful scene of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London! The red bridge in the foreground is Blackfriars Railway Bridge, where we walked over the river before to get to dinner. The building with the long slant on its right side is The Cheese Grater, the one with the sharp slant towards the top right side is The Scalpel, and the funky building on the far right is The Walkie Talkie (with the Sky Garden up on its roof).
  6. So, do you remember how extremely hot it was while we were in Paris? The high temperature was over 90 degrees every day we were there, and we were hot and sweaty pretty much 24 hours a day for 6 days straight. We were greatly looking forward to visiting London as it was forecast to be cooler. Well imagine our surprise when it was so cool that we were shivering in our shorts and t-shirts!! We were going on a walking tour tonight along the Thames River, so if we were this cold at 7:30pm before the sun set, we knew we wouldn’t last long at the walking tour which started at 9:15pm if we didn’t go back to the hotel and get changed. We weren’t planning to go back to the hotel until after the tour at the end of the night, but we had enough time and an unlimited ride metro pass, so why not? We took the Tube back to the hotel and changed into jeans, and we brought a light sweater for me and a light jacket for DH in case we got cold in our short-sleeve shirts. We took the Tube back down to the south bank, and this was the beautiful scene as we exited the station: I just loved how the sunset reflected on the windows, and the colorful flags hanging overhead made for a great photo! We also stopped to look at this statue of Nelson Mandela As I’ve mentioned, tonight’s evening activity was a 2.5 hour free walking tour along the south bank of the Thames River to see the nighttime skyline and learn a bit of history about the city. The tour was offered through Free Tours by Foot, the same company we had great experiences with in New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York. It wasn’t exactly ideal to take this tour tonight considering we had a one hour time zone change coming from Paris, so our bodies felt like it was an hour later, plus we had already had a very long day of travel and touring. It sounded like a fun tour, and they only offered it two days a week, with the other option being Monday night when we already had a 12-hour bus tour booked and knew we would be too tired to do this tour afterwards. We figured that since it was a free tour, we would show up at the starting point and stay with the tour as long as we could, and if we got too tired, we would leave early. The tour met in Jubilee Gardens, a small park near the London Eye. By the way, we decided not to ride in the London Eye. We have been in the High Roller Ferris Wheel in Las Vegas, which is basically the same thing so we’ve already had that experience. We could see the views from the Sky Garden for free, so the London Eye didn’t seem like a good way to spend our time or money. Yes, you get a better view of Parliament and Big Ben from the London Eye, but those buildings were all covered in scaffolding so there wasn’t much to see. Maybe if we go back to London in the future and if all the buildings are exposed and if the weather is perfectly clear, we might consider riding the London Eye. We’ll see! Anyway, this was about as close as we got to the London Eye on this trip.
  7. They are very intense with their security at the Sky Garden, so I'm not surprised they yelled at you for taking that photo! When we went back at night, I crawled under the guard rail to put my camera up to the glass, but that was inside where there was no risk of dropping the camera. DH was on the look-out for security guards and no one saw me doing it, so maybe that's how I got away with it? hehe
  8. Yay! That sounds like a fabulous cruise so I look forward to reading your review! We returned home to California on July 7. We did try several different British foods while we were there, but we didn't try those things... guess I'll add that to the list of things to do next time we're in London! I will say that I have never used malt vinegar before but I'm a big fan of it now!
  9. Funny enough, when we went inside, there were only a handful of people standing at the bar ordering drinks, and nearly all of the tables in the restaurant were empty! I guess everyone was just standing outside with their drinks and not interested in having dinner? To be fair, it was not even 6pm yet so we were definitely early for the dinner rush. The hostess took us to a table at the back of the pub in this amazing room with marbled stone walls and tiled mosaics on the arched ceiling with funny little black stone sculptures on the walls. We didn’t take much time to look over the menu because we both knew what we wanted for dinner… fish and chips! Since there were so few people eating at the pub, our food came out very quickly. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting because I have had fish and chips many times in the States, and this was pretty much the same thing. The fish was a nice, big piece, and it was fried to a crispy perfection (as were the chips, but most of them are hiding under the fish in the photo), and the waitress brought us a bottle of malt vinegar so I could eat it the proper British way!
  10. By the time we finished our drinks, it was a little after 5pm and we were starting to get hungry. We could have stayed at Anchor for dinner, but decided we wanted to explore someplace different so I checked my Google Map to see what was nearby. Another pub I had wanted to visit was about a one mile walk away, but it would be a scenic walk along the river and across a bridge so we decided to head over there. I’m not surprised that we had such high step counts every day of this trip considering how often I looked at my map, said “Oh, that’s only a mile away” and we walked there! All those one mile walks add up fast!! On the way, we walked past Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. I considered trying to get tickets to a show one night but we just didn’t have enough days for all the things I wanted to do, so that will have to wait for a future trip to London. We crossed the Thames via the Blackfriars Railway Bridge. Right next to it is a bridge used for the train tracks. That bridge looks really funky and has a great view looking further to the right towards the other bridges crossing the river. I didn’t realize this at the time, but we could have used our unlimited ride metro passes to enter this station and walk along the platform and see the view/take photos essentially for free. Oh well, we’ll add that as one more thing to do next time we visit London! Just a block north of the river after crossing the bridge, we reached our dinner destination: The Black Friar. This pub was built in 1875 on the site of a former medieval Dominican friary, and much of the architecture reflects that. As we approached the pub, we could tell it was extremely popular with the locals as there were hundreds of people standing outside, enjoying a pint after work. Notice the black statue of a friar overlooking the courtyard. This was another example of the interesting exterior decorations on the pubs in London.
  11. We found our way to DH’s company’s office and spent some time chatting with his coworkers. The original plan was to go to the Museum of London after leaving his office, but we decided to skip the museum and find somewhere to sit down and have a drink instead. I was looking forward to that museum and learning some history about London, but we were tired and just wanted to sit down and relax for a bit. I had wanted to visit the Anchor Bankside, so even though it was over a mile away, we decided to head that way. We walked over the London Bridge (thank goodness it wasn’t falling down!) and down to the Anchor pub. This place opened in the early 1600’s and is considered one of the oldest taverns in London. It is located right on the south bank of the Thames and has a huge outdoor seating area, making it the perfect place for a drink on this cool summer afternoon. DH had a mission to visit as many pubs as possible during his time in London, so this was our first of many drinks at pubs. I was very excited to learn that every pub we visited had at least one cider on tap! Given the choice between beer and cider, I will pick cider every time, so I was thrilled that it was so readily served in London! This cider was definitely my favorite of all the ciders I had… it was a berries and cherries cider! Another thing that I loved about many of the pubs in London was the buildings were so pretty! They often had fun, bright paint colors and beautiful colorful flowers featured somewhere on the building, and they were all begging me to take a photo of their exteriors (so you will see many pub photos in the coming days! Haha)
  12. As we were walking, we cut through a pedestrian walkway between two buildings. It was still June which is Pride month, so we saw a lot of celebration throughout London, including this rainbow-painted walkway! How cool! When we passed this red phone box on a side street, I couldn’t resist taking a photo! It was the first one we saw, but as the days passed, we saw tons of them all over the city. We cut through the shopping center called One New Change. I loved how St. Paul’s Cathedral was framed between the buildings and reflected in the mirrored windows! Another red phone box with St. Paul’s Cathedral peeking out through the trees We’re in London!
  13. A great view of the Gherkin, the Cheese Grater, and the Scalpel Buildings Looking down into the Tower of London, and the Tower Bridge We spent about 30 minutes walking around and checking out the views. We had tickets to come back at night in a few days, so we planned to visit the bar at that time. DH’s company has a small office near the Sky Garden, so he pre-arranged to visit the office later this afternoon. We had some time to spare so we went for a walk around the City of London. I thought this building looked really cool, especially with the sun reflecting off the balconies…
  14. Looking straight up to the overhang above the balcony I couldn’t get a good photo without the glare from the windows, so this was the best I could do… It was such a clear day that it felt like we could see across all of England! We were really lucky with the weather because this is London and I know they have a lot of rainy days! Back inside the building, we walked up the stairs to see the views from a different angle. You can see the big open seating area and the outdoor balcony behind us in this photo There were live plants and trees growing in the Sky Garden, so it really was a garden in the sky!
  15. Our next destination was the Sky Garden, a free observation deck at the top of the Walkie Talkie building. Each Monday at 8:30am London time, they release tickets on their website for 3 weeks in advance for time slots in 15-minute increments. There are a different number of tickets available for each of those time slots, but it was usually around 150 tickets each. When I was planning this trip, I knew we’d want to go to the Sky Garden today because it is so close to where we ended the river cruise, but since I did not know exactly which river cruise boat we would take, I didn’t know exactly what time we could go to the Sky Garden. To hedge our bets, I booked the Sky Garden tickets for 2 time slots- 2:30pm for if we made the 1:20pm cruise, and 3:15pm for if we took the 2pm cruise. Either way, we had about 30 minutes to get from Tower Pier to the Walkie Talkie building, a 0.4 mile walk away. Since we took the 1:20pm cruise, we arrived at the Walkie Talkie building at 2:25pm to use our first set of tickets. There was a long line of people waiting outside the entrance, but they were all walk-ups who didn’t have timed entry tickets so we could walk past them. When we went in the front door, we showed our tickets to the lady at the front desk and she told us to proceed through security. Crazy enough, this was by far the strictest security we encountered so far on the trip. In Paris, we had to go through a metal detector and our bags went through an X-ray machine at every museum. At the Sky Garden, they do that as well, but they made us empty everything out of our pockets (even pieces of paper like the paper ticket we were holding to access the Sky Garden!) and we even had to take off our watches. I thought they were going to make us take off our wedding bands, but luckily they didn’t go that far. Once that was done, we got in an elevator which went directly up to the 35th floor for the Sky Garden. We exited the elevator into a big open space with lots of tables and seating areas and a big bar in the middle. We walked past that to go straight outside onto the balcony with a beautiful view over the Thames and Southwark. The safety glass was good for blocking the wind, but not ideal for taking photos!
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