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deladane

Detailed Photo Review of Paris and London Trip in June 2019

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I love how this photo came out, with the sun shining bright against the towers, the red doube-decker bus driving across the bridge, and the Shard sticking out in the background.

 

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We doubled back to find a staircase leading up onto the bridge so we could walk across it.

 

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The sidewalk juts out around the towers and there are some displays about the history of the bridge, so we took a few minutes to read them.  Sorry, no photos of that! 

 

Once we reached the south side of the Thames, we walked west through the neighborhood in search of a supermarket.  We wanted to buy some candy to bring back to our families as souvenirs, and needed to save that task for today or it would have melted in our hotel room!  We found a small local market right on the corner which sold sampler packs of 6 or 7 varieties of Cadbury chocolate bars.  They were like Halloween candy, with individual mini bite-sized pieces of candies we had never seen before in the States, so that was perfect!  We bought several boxes for our relatives, then continued walking around Southwark. 

 

Potters Fields Park with City Hall peaking out in the background.

 

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I liked the fencing outside the park.

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I just could not get enough of these pubs!  And even better when another major monument is showing behind it!!

 

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This long piece of concrete was actually a water feature but it’s hard to see the water trickling down in the photo.  Either way, it said exactly what I was wanting in that moment… more London!

 

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I realized we were close by Borough Market, so we walked over there to check it out.  We weren’t hungry since we only ate breakfast an hour earlier, but it was still fun to look around at the various vendors.

 

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Around 11:30am, we decided we’d done enough walking and made our way back to the London Bridge station to head back to the hotel to retrieve our luggage.  I still cannot get over how clean it was in the Underground stations and how wonderful it was to see working escalators at every entrance/exit!

 

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I am still here and I don't want this adventure to end.  I have so enjoyed every single minute.  Your Evan Evans bus tour was perfect for all that you did that day.  Wow, that was a lot of time in a bus without a bathroom.  You would think tour busses that travel further would be equipped.  But, they did a really good job of meeting their destinations.  Kudos again to all of your planning.  I have added so many things to my bucket list London trip.  I am really hoping it will happen in three years.  DH knows that list is already starting.  I love the pubs in London.  Which was your favorite?  

 

I will be at the tail end of your blog!

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Thank you deladane for a wonderful review and all your fantastic photos , loved your Paris trip and learned so much of what to see and do , we are like you and do so much in a day to experience all these wonderful places , sometimes when it is on our door step we forget to go and visit and after 40 plus years of living here we have only just got to visit Windsor castle and did bath two years ago but still to visit Stonehenge which is only a hour away , it's taken me a few nights to catch up on your review and can't wait until your next one you do so much research and valuable information for everyone , I'm off on my cruise in about 6 hours to Norway for a week so I will catch up how your flight home went when I get back ,  thank you again 

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18 hours ago, Walt fan said:

I am still here and I don't want this adventure to end.  I have so enjoyed every single minute.  Your Evan Evans bus tour was perfect for all that you did that day.  Wow, that was a lot of time in a bus without a bathroom.  You would think tour busses that travel further would be equipped.  But, they did a really good job of meeting their destinations.  Kudos again to all of your planning.  I have added so many things to my bucket list London trip.  I am really hoping it will happen in three years.  DH knows that list is already starting.  I love the pubs in London.  Which was your favorite?  

 

I will be at the tail end of your blog!

 

Thanks for hanging in there with me... I'll be finishing up my last posts today 🙂  That Evan Evans tour really did run like clockwork.  It was obvious that they do that tour every day and have been doing it for years so they know what to do to ensure it runs efficiently.  I am still surprised that there were no bathrooms at the back of the bus, but luckily there were always public bathrooms at each of our stops!

 

As for the pubs, they were all very similar in terms of the service and drink offerings.  I liked Anchor Bankside for it's great outdoor location and the berry cider (everywhere else just had the typical apple cider).  I liked Black Friar best for the unique interior decor.  I liked the Red Lion best for it's history.  And of course, I liked Churchill Arms best for its exterior decor!  

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11 hours ago, Purdey16 said:

Thank you deladane for a wonderful review and all your fantastic photos , loved your Paris trip and learned so much of what to see and do , we are like you and do so much in a day to experience all these wonderful places , sometimes when it is on our door step we forget to go and visit and after 40 plus years of living here we have only just got to visit Windsor castle and did bath two years ago but still to visit Stonehenge which is only a hour away , it's taken me a few nights to catch up on your review and can't wait until your next one you do so much research and valuable information for everyone , I'm off on my cruise in about 6 hours to Norway for a week so I will catch up how your flight home went when I get back ,  thank you again 

 

Thank you for reading along!  I am about to upload the last few posts so they will be here waiting for when you return.  I hope you have a wonderful cruise to Norway!  Maybe you'll come back and post your own review?? 😄

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The location of Central Hotel was extremely convenient for when we had to travel with our luggage.  We collected our bags from the lobby, walked a half block up to St. Pancras station, and that it was it!  Super easy!  They have a tourist information office at the station so I went in to ask about returning our Oyster Cards while DH waited in the hallway with our bags.  From what I could find online before the trip, I was under the impression that you cannot return your Oyster Card to get a refund of the £5 deposit if you still have time left on a Travel Card.  The Travel Card was for 7 days, but today was only our 6th day in London, I didn’t think we could get back our deposit but it was worth taking a moment to speak with an agent and find out for sure.  In the end, I’m glad I did that because it was no problem at all to get a refund for our 2 Oyster Cards!  Of course, you are welcome to keep your card as a souvenir or for future visits to London, but who knows when we’ll be back so it made more sense to just take the refund since we could get it.

 

Our next mission was to purchase tickets to Gatwick Airport.  That journey would not have been covered by our Travel Card, so we opted to buy paper tickets from the machine as opposed to loading more money onto the Oyster Card to cover the cost of that journey.  There is a specific train called the Gatwick Express which runs nonstop between the airport and Victoria Station, but since we were not staying on that side of the city, it did not make sense for us.  Instead, we needed to take the Thameslink train from St. Pancras Station.  The train would make a few stops before reaching Gatwick, and it would take us about an hour to get there, but we could stay on the same train for the entire journey so that made the most sense when traveling with lots of luggage.  The ride cost about £12 per person, and it was easy to follow the directions on the ticket machines and pay with a credit card. 

 

We asked an agent where to board the Thameslink and he directed us all the way down to the far end of St. Pancras Station.  Once there, it was very clearly labeled and we looked on the electronic schedule boards for the when the next train would arrive.  The trains run about every 15 minutes, but we were lucky and only had to wait about 2 minutes for the next train to arrive.  When we climbed on board, there was a luggage rack right there near the doors and there were plenty of open seats.  The whole process could not be any easier!  It was now around 1pm, so it was not peak rush hour, and the train car was never more than half-way full (although I think they did run out of space in our luggage rack towards the end of the journey!). 

 

Exiting the train at Gatwick, we followed signs up the escalator to enter the South Terminal, and the Norwegian Air check in counter was the first one when we walked through the doors!  The separate line for people with premium seats had one couple speaking with the agent at the counter, so we waited in line for maybe 3 minutes.  The agent did ask to weigh our backpacks, so that was different from what we experienced in California, but it wasn’t an issue because both bags were under the 10kg limit.  She checked our 3 rolling bags (which were all under the 20kg limit), and gave us passes to access the lounge inside the terminal.

 

There was hardly anyone in line for the priority line at security, and before we knew it, we were walking through the terminal in search of the lounge.  It was located down a hallway off to the side in the upper level of the terminal, but there were plenty of signs pointing us in the right direction so it was easy to find.  We handed over our passes at the reception desk and were pleased to see it was much less crowded than the lounge at Oakland’s airport!  We found some chairs near the windows, and took turns exploring the options of snacks and drinks.  We skipped lunch today, anticipating a spread similar to what we had in Oakland, but sadly, we weren’t so lucky this time around.  They had a small platter of fresh veggies and hummus, coleslaw, a few bland dry cakes, and couple of hot dishes with baked beans and potatoes that looked completely unappetizing.  They did have fresh popcorn and a bunch of flavored salts you could add to the bag, but the popcorn was burnt both times they brought out fresh bags.

 

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I guess I can’t really complain because it was free!  The drinks selection was much more impressive, with a self-serve station for beer and cider on tap, wine, and an assortment of hard liquors and mixers.  DH was thrilled that he could make his own drink and not be throttled by a bartender like in Oakland, and I just stuck with a glass of wine.

 

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We spent about an hour and a half in the lounge, helping ourselves to refills of our drinks.  Gatwick does not announce the departure gate until it is nearly time to board the plane, but luckily, there was an electronic screen in the lounge where we could find out our gate once it was announced.  After we left the lounge, we got our first glimpse at the Gatwick terminal.  It looked like a shopping mall!  There were lots of stores and food vendors, with tables and benches and lots of places to sit, but it felt very chaotic because it wasn’t organized by gate like most airports I’ve been to.  This really made me appreciate having access to the lounge, and I would consider paying for the passes out of pocket if flying during a busy time of day, just to avoid the craziness in this huge waiting room.  I guess it makes sense that it was so busy in there, considering many people arrived early for their international flights, but then had a lot of time to spare before learning their gate number so they have to wait in this communal space.  It looked very stressful and not relaxing at all!

 

It took us about 15 minutes to walk through the waiting area, down an escalator, then through a series of corridors, before we finally reached our gate.  DH appreciated seeing lots of people wearing Yankees t-shirts from the London Series games, which made sense considering we were flying back to New York!  Just like in Oakland, Norwegian starts boarding their planes over an hour before departure, and we were among the first on the plane because of our premium seats.

 

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Our flight attendant served glasses of water and juice, and passed out ear buds for the in-flight entertainment system.  Soon enough, it was time to take off for our 8-hour flight across the pond.

 

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The giant windows on this plane allow for some beautiful photos!  Based on this view of grass and trees lining the runways, you’d never know this airport is located so close to one of the world’s biggest cities!

 

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I had fun playing with the interactive screen.  If you touched the white location markers, it gave you information about that city.

 

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DH and I synced up our TVs to watch Deadpool together.  After using the audio guides in Paris and London, we got really good at counting to 3, then hitting play or stop at the same time so we’d stay synced up to the same spot.

 

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About an hour into the flight, they served our first meal, with a choice of chicken or beef.  I opted for the beef… it was a steak with noodles, but I could barely eat it because the steak was several notches above well done, and the noodles and veggies were very spicy.  I just ate the roll the salad, and the cake for dessert and that was enough for me.

 

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I spent most of the flight watching movies on the TVs, and drifting in and out of sleep.  I very rarely sleep even a few minutes on planes, so I must have been very tired from 12 days of walking over 20,000 steps a day!  The 8-hour flight passed quickly, and soon enough, they were serving our second meal, about an hour and a half before landing.  This time, we did not get an option… it was chicken and prosciutto over a small salad, with a roll, cheese, and a candy bar for dessert.  Again, this wasn’t 5-star dining, but at least it was edible!

 

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Our flight was making great time and the pilot announced that we would be landing 30 minutes early.  This made for a beautiful approach into New York and JFK Airport with the sun setting over the city.

 

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If you look closely at the horizon, you can see the Manhattan skyline!

 

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I should have known not to be excited that we were landing early.  Sure enough, a minute after we landed, the pilot announced that we were too early and there was still a plane in our gate.  The details of what happened next are a bit fuzzy, partly because it happened several months ago, but mostly because it was now after midnight London time and I was too tired to follow the specifics.  I think there was a problem with the plane in our original gate, so they had us taxi out to some distant point in the airport to wait for a new gate.  It took over an hour before we finally did get a gate assigned to us.  Meanwhile, I had called my parents to let them know we landed and they should pick us up, then I had to call back to say never mind, we don’t have a gate and don’t know when we can get off the plane.  At some point, my phone stopped working!  Several people in seats near us had the same problem and we realized it must be something to do with the metal construction of the airplane and it was blocking our signals, so I had no way to communicate with my parents!  The pilot kept coming on the PA system to say he was not happy with how JFK airport was handling this situation and he apologized many times that we were being held captive on this plane.  The one positive, at least for DH and myself, was we were sitting comfortably in our premium seats during this whole ordeal.  When the flight attendants came around to collect the blankets 20 minutes before landing, I asked if I could hold onto mine until it was time to get off the plane because I was cold and it was so comfy to snuggle up underneath the blanket, so I was very happy to still have that blanket for this extra hour on the plane. 

 

When we finally did get a gate, it was complete mayhem with everyone pushing to get off the plane ASAP.  The flight attendants held back the people sitting in coach so the people in the premium seats could exit first, so of course, the people in coach were upset about that and started yelling at the flight attendants.  After exiting the plane, we went through immigration using the computer kiosks, then spoke with an agent inside the booth for all of 10 seconds so he could stamp our passports, and we were on our way to collect our luggage.  The downside to getting off the plane first is that JFK is a huge airport so we got to the luggage carrousel long before our luggage did!  I called my parents while DH waited for our bags.  I thought another perk of the premium seats was that our luggage would be first off the plane, but that did not happen.  It is possible that that was not a perk, I’m not sure.  Our bags came out in the third batch of bags, and we met my dad outside.  By the time we got back to my parents house, it was close to 3am London time and we were completely exhausted!  After a quick hello to my mom, we went straight upstairs to the guestroom and fell asleep moments later.

 

I won’t go into the details of my time in New York since that has nothing to do with this review.  We celebrated my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, we went to the beach, and on Wednesday night, we went to Citifield with DH’s cousins for a Subway Series game of the Mets vs. Yankees. That was one of my arguments against seeing the London Series… knowing we would see the Yankees play 3 days later in New York!

 

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On Sunday, we packed everything up, my parents took us to the airport, and we flew back to San Jose on JetBlue. 

 

That concludes my review of our trip to Paris and London.  Overall, we had a wonderful time and really made the most of our limited days in each city.  Please let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for reading!

 

Fitbit Daily Summary for Tuesday 7/2/19… Steps: 13,900,  Miles: 6.72,  Flights of Stairs: 13 (not too shabby considering we spent a third of the day on an airplane!)

 

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Dana thank you for another wonderful review! I read every post and really enjoyed it.  You supplied a lot of great detail for future travelers too!

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Thanks for posting your wonderful review. We should take up a collection to send you somewhere else.

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Thank you, Dana, for this wonderful review with so many outstanding pictures! I've really enjoyed following along.

Heather

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I would also like to add my thanks for this great review.  We are travelling to England next week and this has really helped us plan our 3 days in London.  So much to see and so little time!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to write this fantastic review. I have thoroughly enjoyed following you on your travels. Your writing style is excellent and your photos wonderful. Where are you off to next? I will keep an eye out for your next review as I enjoyed this one so much. Thanks again. 😊

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Extremely well done and so very impressed with your planning.  Thank you for all of your time and the amazing pics.  Hope your memory bank is full.

 

I just got an email from Conde Nast about Norwegian Airlines.  They are on the brink of declaring bankruptcy, and if they do go under, the news is that flights to Europe will increase significantly from other carriers.  Glad you got affordable airfare!

 

Thank you again!  I have enjoyed every minute.

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Thank you, again for taking time to write this review. I've thoroughly enjoyed it. your review surely helps me with my planning and gives me a broad idea of what to expect for my upcoming London and Paris trip.

 

 

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Thank you for a FANTASTIC review!! I do all the research for our trips with our next one being Paris, & London before & after our cruise to the Norwegian Fjords. I appreciate all your hard work in compiling this review as it has made my research that much easier.  Glad you had a safe trip home and enjoyed your trip. Thanks again!!

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On 9/6/2019 at 7:56 AM, singinalot said:

Dana thank you for another wonderful review! I read every post and really enjoyed it.  You supplied a lot of great detail for future travelers too!

 

Thank you!  Now it's your turn... I'm looking forward to your upcoming Greek Isles cruise review!!  

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On 9/6/2019 at 9:17 AM, geoherb said:

Thanks for posting your wonderful review. We should take up a collection to send you somewhere else.

 

I fully support that suggestion and would be happy to review any cruise funded by my loyal readers 😉

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On 9/6/2019 at 9:44 AM, SenatorsFan said:

Thank you, Dana, for this wonderful review with so many outstanding pictures! I've really enjoyed following along.

Heather

 

Thanks for reading, Heather!

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On 9/6/2019 at 9:47 AM, Zignewt said:

I would also like to add my thanks for this great review.  We are travelling to England next week and this has really helped us plan our 3 days in London.  So much to see and so little time!

 

I hope you have a wonderful time in England!!  Wishing you sunny skies and safe travels 😎

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