Thursday, January 15, 2015

London Day 2

Hello! How is everyone keeping? I hope you all had a Happy New Year!

Last year we had some pretty incredible travelling experiences and I would like to share more of those from London. So alas, here is Day  2.

Looking back, Day 2 was nuts. Mostly because we packed as much as we could into this short time. This was the day to get it all in, so I had a list which was approved by the group and everyone felt we could manage the list. Ha! Be warned... this is a long post.

We met for breakfast at 08:30 and shortly after we walked to the tube. Our first stop was the Tower of London and so Tower Hill was where we were off to.

John and Tammy had been to London before, so we relied on them knowing what to do. The tube system was very user friendly, but we did hit a bit of a snag and at one point we were not sure which train to take. That's when a gentleman who overheard us talking approached and asked if we were going to the Tower, and he then advised which train to wait for. London... you are friendly, thank you very much!

We hopped off at our stop and up the stairs we went.

And the moment I had been waiting for... Hello! What a view.

It's pretty impressive to see this structure against the modern architecture. We could learn from taking care of our historical buildings.

I took so many photos! Who wouldn't? I loved every bit of it and wanted to spend more time. Here is a taste of what we saw... 

This is the famous White Tower, the Fortress created by William the Conqueror prior to the 1100's. We did not go inside, but when I return to London, and yes, rest assured I will go back one day, I will take my time walking through. 

We walked mostly along the wall and into the rooms where royalty lived and went about their day to day business.
Tammy wanted to have her photo taken with the Yeoman Warder (we know them more commonly as the Beefeaters) so Marvin approached this gentleman and asked if we could take pictures with him, he was more than happy to oblige. He immediately asked where we were from and when we told him, not only had he known where Edmonton was, he said, "I waited many hours at your Sherlock Holmes (a pub at West Edmonton Mall), for my wife, but she only came to drop off more shopping bags". She enjoyed the shopping :) He had been with the British Army and so was very familiar with Alberta and Canada. The British Army shares training at CFB Suffield. I wish I had asked him his name, but did not.

The Gherkin :)

You can buy the Tower of London souvenir book when you pay for your ticket. It provides pictures and historical information about the Tower. I highly recommend it. It describes the Ravens, which are said to be the guardians of the tower, and if they leave then the kingdom will fall. Do you spot him in the photo below?

That was it, that was all the time we had for the Tower. We then walked over to the Tower Bridge where we planned to take the boat to the London Eye, but we thought it was just a bit pricey and the tube was so easy to maneuver.

When we walked up those stairs at Westminster station, I was completely mesmerized by Big Ben, seriously mesmerized. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you already know this :) I couldn't help but take as many photos as possible of the parliamentary buildings and Big Ben, I mean really it is pretty incredible and one of London's most well known symbols. So you can imagine I tried to get the best photo possible, but traffic, joggers, pedestrians and other tourists all seemed to get in my way! I mean really, come on?!! ;) 

Meanwhile, the group was waaaaayy ahead of me. This is the trouble being the one holding the camera :) 
There she is, the London Eye! I could not wait to get up there and have the birds eye view. 
 We had the most beautiful weather while in London! How lucky were we?
Okay, so while we were here in the eye, I spotted Buckingham Palace. Boom! Our next stop.
Although, first things first, we enjoyed a cup of coffee and carrot cake at a bakery near the London Eye  before we started to walk to Buckingham Palace. I thought I had photos of the bakery, but I don't! I must have been hungry and forgot.
I warned you, I have lots of photos of it.
But here is where it gets funny. Remember I said I had a list, yes well I never really pulled the list out the whole day and it wasn't until I looked at the photos on my camera later in the evening when we were back in the room and I noticed the sign "Westminster Station" and realized we completely missed Westminster Abbey. Yes, so this will be on my list when I return. No worries, right? :)
 By this time, me feet were killing me. Obviously I did not bring the proper footwear.

On another note, can anyone tell me the kind of trees these are? This is along St. Jame's Park, Marvin enjoyed the trees, and they were all over London, but no one could tell us the name of them. They were beautiful.
Oh Buckingham Palace, you are beautiful! We walked up to the gates and took photos of the guards. We then made our way to the shop and bought some more souvenirs to bring home. I bought a fridge magnet, an umbrella and some Christmas ornaments. By this time it was close to 3 pm and we still wanted to go to Harrods. I told the group, the only way I was making my way to Harrods was if I could buy a pair of shoes!
Here they are! They are a bit blingie, and I shared a few moves with the group immediately upon placing them on my feet! Yup, they never came off after that.
After partaking in more shopping, we went to the Tea Room where we became ensconced in our seats and ordered tea, scones and clotted cream. Yum.   

After we were filled with our tea room experience we took a taxi back to the hotel. It was raining at this point and we were pretty tired! Our evening was spent back at the hotel for an incredible dinner after which we retired to our rooms to rest and prepare for Day 3.
If you made it here, thanks for reading and having a look at our Day 2 in London.

There will be a Day 3 too!

Take care friends :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

London - Day One

Last year we began the process of planning for a 2 week Mediterranean cruise, but soon added an extra few days to allow for adjustments to jet lag and luggage mishaps. Besides, with travelling this distance to Europe, it made sense to spend a bit more time in London. We had less than 72 hours, which was not really much, but enough to get a taste and to know we would love the opportunity to come back and see more!

The photos I am sharing are from my iPhone, iPad and Canon T3I, some I have shared on IG and/or Facebook already, but most have not been shared.

With over a year of planning I cannot tell you (although if you've ever planned a big trip before I'm sure you already know what it's like) how excited we were for this. Marvin and I had never been to Europe before!

Waiting in our seats, already boarded!

A token shot of Edmonton. We left May 10th, a very late Spring for us and our trees were just beginning to bud, in fact we even had a scant amount of snow fall that week! We were ready to leave and looked forward to seeing London!

The time difference between London and Edmonton is only 7 hours, but the flight was 9 hours long. Our direct flight travelled over Iceland and arrived at Heathrow at 11:30 am. This was our first glimpse of what we were about to see!

We stayed at Grosvenor House, across from Hyde Park, which was very comfortable and near most of the sites on our list of must sees.

After 1.5 hours of sleep (not solid mind you) on the plane, our first order of business was to get ourselves settled into our hotel room, freshen up and be on our merry way!
Before we could leave the hotel, I took this photo looking out our room window and pretty much squealed because I was so excited to be here!! A few text messages to family to let them know we arrived safely and then we were on our way to meet John and Tammy.
Our next mission - find a PUB!
Okay, so on our drive from the airport I couldn't help but notice ALL of the men walking about in their suits and bowler hats. Everywhere. Bowlers hats. (loved it). We were told it was the Cavalry Memorial Service. Needless to say, the men left a very good impression on me ;)
After walking around a bit and only a few blocks from our hotel, we ran into an elderly gentleman, who did hear us speaking about food and pubs! He directed us to the Market Tavern, not only did he direct, but told us it was the best Pub in all of London! Well, okay then.. I was pretty happy and felt quite lucky to run into him knowing I was going to eat well!
We walked in and found a seat at the back and were soon given a menu.
I have to tell you - at this point I had not used my camera for months, and in these first few hours I struggled getting my settings right. Wow... I wanted to take photos inside this pub and nothing worked. Even automatic... anyway.. I like the photo below although it is completely out of focus and over exposed. I believe the memory is what counts here...  
The menu had so many wonderful items to pick from and Sunday was roast day, but I couldn't wait to try the fish and chips, MORE importantly I wanted some mushy peas! I was pleasantly surprised. They had good consistency and lots of flavor! I might have to try and replicate this at home.
 Of course we needed dessert to finish it all off... I had the salted caramel and chocolate tart! Yummo!

 After eating and relaxing we decided to make our way back to our hotel. Here is another out of focus photo. I promise they get better!

Our intent was to stay awake as long as possible. We were aiming for 9 pm but found after sitting in the lounge for a mere 45 min we seriously were in need of sleep. By this time we were awake for 30+ hours. We headed back to our rooms and were in bed by 7 pm!
And there you have it! Our first day in London...
Thanks for popping by :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Texas Has its Charms!

A couple weeks ago I made a painted wooden house at a class I took from Lisa over at Not Ladylike It was an inspirational class and I even brought home a couple extra blocks to practice and play with. I was happy I did because I painted this one to give as a gift.

On Sunday morning I got to meet Melissa from Daily Life - Bits & Pieces She had emailed me a couple weeks ago to ask if I was available to connect. I was thrilled to be able to say "I sure am!" Marvin and I met Robbie and Melissa at one of our favourite longstanding local breakfast joints, the Highlevel Diner. Melissa and Robbie arrived ahead of us which gave us some time to chat while waiting for a table. For those of you who read Melissa's blog, you will know her and Robbie were married in Banff, and I often thought how interesting it is that someone from Texas would get married in the middle of Winter in Canada. That isn't to say that people don't get married here in Winter! I just find it kind of fun that they would choose to, as I know their photos were shot outside and it would have been very cold! She said it does make for an interesting topic of conversation... no kidding!

There was no shortage or gaps in conversation. Melissa is charming, friendly and very easy to speak with (not that I was worried in the least); a truly genuine and kind hearted individual. We shared stories, and spoke of our travels and work. Marvin and Robbie hit it off as well, and if all works out we may be able to meet again in October when we travel to Texas.

I gave Melissa her gift, I know she loves yellow, so it was really a no brainer what color to paint her house! I painted the saying "home is where your heart is" along the sides of the block and told her it was a little something she could take "home" with her as a memory of her visit to Edmonton.

We said our goodbyes in the parking lot, and still chatted after that! It was a lovely beginning to our day!

Here's to blogging friends!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

bright lights... big city...



a big hello... from me... to you.
wow... we finally got our computer back... and so you can just imagine how excited I am to be able to see the photos I took from our trip to Europe in May on the bigger computer screen. I'm in photo editing heaven... (albeit this one, except for being resized, is straight from the camera).
I wish each and every one of you a wonderful weekend. It is suppose to be quite lovely here... I hope to sit outside and enjoy it... but in the meantime... I will be editing more photos ;)
Take care friends....

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunshine, sand, art and whales

Buenos Dias! or... tardes... noches? Good day wherever you may be :) It is a lovely sunny morning here and although we still have lots of snow on the ground... there is a feeling of spring in the air and it has me thinking of warmer weather and BBQ's! So to continue with the warm weather theme I thought I would share some photos of our trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, which was back in January. I'm warning, this is a photo heavy post.

Puerto Vallarta is on the west coast of Mexico, where the temperatures were a consistent 28 C every day.

We walked lots... and saw many interesting things. The Malecon offers beautiful sunset views, amazing food and entertainment. These incredibly ornate sculptures were everywhere to be seen and photographed.

We took a break to sit and pose with the sculpted chairs.

I wonder if anyone ever really purchases boots such as these...

We continued with our journey down the Melacon and observed this acrobatic type entertainment.

I was too shy to sit with these gentleman... they were like moving sand statues.

I have wanted to go whale watching for years and one might think with my fear of water and all, it might not be on my bucket list of things to do. Well, I was thrilled to bits. I made the decision to not take my camera with me as I wanted to spend my time enjoying what I was about to see instead of worrying about the camera settings etc... so the next three photos are from the tour photographer. 

Before we set out that morning, our tour guide mentioned they had not seen any breaches for 5 days. She told us to keep our hearts open and to have no expectations. It was breathtaking... and we must have had a boat full of open hearts as these humpbacks put on a show... 

This one flapped his tail at least 8 times in a row...

At one point we were stunned at how close we came to this whale surfacing, you can see our guide telling our skipper to back it up!
We saw at least 15 breaches that morning... 8 of them repeatedly from one whale... incredible to say the least!

One afternoon we did the Art Gallery Walk, there are so many galleries in Puerto Vallarta, and lots of art to see.

Most evenings we sat in the hotel lobby to take in this incredible view and to watch the sunset...

And with that I will wish you all a great week ahead!