United Kingdom

Going 298 kph (186 mph). Today Je Suis Parisienne!

We arrive at the St. Pancras International Station in London (railroad) from where the Eurostar departs.  I am super excited to go on it. The waiting area is ultra modern St. Pancras International, London train station, Eurostar, London, England while the upper area, train, train station, St. Pancras International, London, England from where the train actually departs, gives you an “I’ve been here longer than you.” feel.  Customs/immigration is a breeze.

Our destination (another reason why my inner child is doing somersaults):  Paris!  I so love Paris.

The Eurostar Eurostar is set to depart at 3:31 and it leaves at… (drumroll please) at exactly 3:31 pm!!!

Tutu wants out and promptly takes over what is supposed to be my seat.  koala, train

I promptly put him in the front seat’s pouch.  He’s not too happy about this.  koala, train

The Eurostar goes up to 300 kilometres per hour (186 mph).  Super fast. Eurostar speed, mph, kph, London-Paris And takes the Channel Tunnel between the United Kingdom and France.  I find the speed mind blogging but the fact that we are underwater also blows my mind.  It will get us to Paris in 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Oh but wait, I blinked and we are here!!

Gare du Nord, Eurostar, Eurostar station, Paris, France

We get into the line (queue) to get a cab.  We are headed to the 19th arrondissement (district) to an apartment in an area that is very un-touristy and where we will probably become locals for the next 6 nights.  Love the woman in black. Very Parisian chic.  Paris, France, Gare du Nord

I am still hesitant to practice my French so I ask our taxi driver (in French) if he speaks any English.  Nope, sorry madame, I do not. (In French) And so my journey of embarrassing myself in French begins.  🙂  We manage to understand each other and actually have a bit of a conversation.  So engrossed am I in my French that Dean has to point out the taxi’s sunroof which is all glass. Paris, France, taxi, sunroof

We arrive “home”.  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th Arrondissement, 19 district  It’s tiny but charming, quaint and cozy. Worth the climb up two stairs.  Paris, France   “Tres charmant!”  We seem to be in a red-mode here, as in London.  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement  pied a terre, Paris, France, 19th arrondissement

It is a beautiful day. The first, it seems, according to the owner, -who came to greet us- in a while. We settle in.  Check out our view (and our neighbors) who have two of the cutest and biggest Newfoundlands I’ve seen.  sunset, Paris, France  Newfoundland, Paris, France,

British Flag  London, I will miss you but Paris… je t’aime!  Our first sunset in Paris is divine.  sunset, Paris, France

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Categories: 19th arrondissement, France, Gare du Nord, Paris, St. Pancras International | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Visiting the Queen

Today we bid London good-bye.  As I sit at the breakfast table The Gore, London, England, Kensington I feel a tinge of sadness to leave this town, which I had not loved much in previous visits and to which I have warmed up considerably in this one.

 We have hardly done any touristy things but thought it necessary to at least visit Buckingham Palace before we leave.  Buckingham Palace, London, England, sign Our aim is to get there for the Changing of the Guard. We take the bus. Another sunny, beautiful day. We take a pathway in the Mall (not the shopping kind) towards it. The Mall, walkway, London, ENgland  The Victoria Memorial in front of the Palace is swarming with tourists.  London, England, Buckingham Palace  We’ll come back to it.  Let’s see the Changing of the Guard… Buckingham Palace, London, England  or not.  Today, there is no Changing of the Guard ceremony, but that doesn’t stop them from marching.  London, England, guards  guards, London, England  Buckingham Palace guards, England, London

Buckingham Palace

Back to The Victoria Memorial monument in front of Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria, London, England dedicated to Queen Victoria, of course. Victoria Memorial, London, England

The monument has a nautical theme with mermaids included and did you know there were mermen?

I think the statues on the sides Victoria Memorial, London, England were donated by New Zealand.  From here I see the London Eye (does it see me?) London Eye, British flag  After I catch some rays, P1000639 we say farewell to Buckingham Palace BuckinghamPalace and since we are in the tourist mode, head out to Westminster Abbey where Big Ben and the London Eye get closer. BigBen.LondonEye  First a visit to the inner courtyard.  Westminster Abbey inner court, London, England    Westminster Abbey, London  But since we are running out of time (we have a train to catch) we must content ourselves with an outside view of the Abbey itself.  Westminster Abbey, London, England I realize, as well, that I have not photographed one iconic London phone booth, so I do so Iconic London phone booth, London, England before going into the very industrial-feel of the Westminster tube (aka: metro, subway). London metro, London tube WestminsterStation2

We return to the back alley of The Royal Albert Hall Royal Albert Hall back alley and take a last walk through the side street of the hotel, The Gore Hotel, London, England have a last cuppa (cup of tea) in the Green Room GoreLeave and go to the train station where we are taking the Eurostar Eurostar to Paris!

Categories: Buckingham Palace, Kensington, London, Royal Albert Hall, The Mall, United Kingdom, Victoria Memorial, Westminster Abbey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clapton is Phenomenal the Second Time Around!

I look out the window and see the sun shining brightly.  Sunny Day, London, England, Queens Gate Road, KensingtonWe have a corner room so I go to the other side just to make sure and, indeed, the sun shines brightly.  Kensington, London, Queens Gate Road, sunny day

No time is spared to go out to enjoy the sun.  First the belly must be fed and in honor of the fact that we are to be tomorrow in lovely Paris we duck in an alley where there is a Parisian bistro, Cotê, to feed ourselves.  Love the little Coke bottle. Cote, parisian bistro in London, London, CokeMy plate was so good and the baguette gives me a taste of what Paris will offer.  chicken, salad, food, Cote, Parisian bistro in London, London

At the end of the alley on the main street is a TK Maxx – the equivalent of TJ Maxx in Los Angeles – and a Zara.  Two places I will hit since the psychiatrist I am portraying in Paris needs an outfit.  So, I, who rarely shop when in a foreign country, am doing so here.  The sizing is completely different but I manage to figure it out.  Done. Now off to Kensington Kensington Gardens, map, London, Kensigntonwhere Kensington Palace is. Kensington Palace, Kensington, London

The Brits are out in full force.  Rare are these incredibly beautiful and mild days.  Today is Sunday and what a gift it is for them to be free on a day like this. Tomorrow is a bank holiday too.  Kensington Gardens, Kensington, London park, London, England  Kensington Gardens, Kensington, London, England, gardens, sunny day

The Palace is shrouded in scaffolding so I’m concentrating on the gardens.

Kensington Gardens, London

The pathways are paved with shadows and so inviting.  garden arch, gardens, Kensington Gardens, London, England

The animals also attract my attention this duck is one of a select few chosen to reside in the fenced in pond. duck, Kensington Gardens, London, England

Kensington Gardens, pigeons, London, EnglandAnd these two pigeons seem to be pondering why that would be and stating that they could reside here if they so choose! 🙂 Or maybe they are just chilling.

We have to head back.  Time for the second Eric Clapton concert Eric Clapton is nearing.  And speaking of it, I am approaching it from an angle I had not seen it before.

Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London, England, Kensington     The Royal Albert Hall, London, England, concert venue, Kensington   Getting closer.   Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, England, concert venue

Majestic!  Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, concert, London, England

And here in all its glory!  Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, England, concert venue

A few more steps, into the hotel,London, Kensington, England up the stairs to change, The Gore Hotel, London, England, stairs back out – through a back alley- Royal Albert Hall, London, England, concert venue into the Royal Albert Hall again and inside the RAH!!

On Friday we had a sky view, today we have a choir view.  Royal Albert Hall, London, England, concert venue, RAH     Royal Albert Hall, London, England, Kensington, RAH

Eric Clapton's opening act  Gary Clark Jr., Eric’s (yeah, we are kinda close by now) opening act impressed me a lot on the first night.  GaryClarke  Today, closing night, he is just as amazing.

And then comes Eric Clapton!  “Hello Old Friend”

Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Eric Clapton, Hello Old Friend  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Close enough to capture his song list.  Follow along. Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England, song list

“Tears In Heaven”  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

And “Cocaine”   Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England   Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  People are on their feet.  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

He leaves.  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England An empty stage remains.  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Until he returns.  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

Gary Clark Jr. and Eric Clapton.

 Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England  Eric Clapton, Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall, London, England

WOW!!!!!!!!!

What a way for the last night in London to end.  The concert was even better tonight!

Paris tomorrow, only two hours away on the Eurostar.

Categories: Eric Clapton, Gary Clark Jr., Kensington, Kensington Gardens, Kensington Palace, London, Royal Albert Hall, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Sleep, a Move and Eric Clapton Sings!!

Flat Departure  We wake up (if you can call it that) and hear the rain fall.  Great reason to go back to sleep.  There’s the excuse of jetlag  -which we don’t have- but I will go with the fact that a lazy day was in order and that the weather provided the perfect excuse.

I’ve been wanting to see The Great Gatsby in 3D so once I get cabin fever we bus it rainy day, London, double-decker bus out to Covent Gardens to see it.  Turns out we had the wrong theater but ended up seeing it in a huge screen but not in 3D.  I wanted to love it.  I didn’t. But I didn’t dislike it.  It had good and bad.  A bit disappointed in the visuals.  Not an explosion of color and movement as Moulin Rouge was.  Some elements were a bit overused.  Leo did a great job.  Bit slow and then rushed on a resolution.

Next day is moving day and the weather still a bit yucky.  It has been unseasonable cold in this part of the world, or at least in London.  I take a walk around “my” neighborhood of Fulham and buy some things that will keep me warm.  By the time I arrive at the flat it’s check out time and the cleaning lady is already there.

Off we go to The Gore, our next residence in London.  We chose The Gore Hotel because it is a block and half from The Royal Albert Hall where Eric Clapton is playing and whose concert we are attending twice.  More on that later.

Our room 208 (Miss Ada) is not ready yet so we wait in the Green Room, not the anteroom before a performance but a much civilized tea room.  The Gore, Green Room,  A coffee table book of Jimmy Choos’ shoes and a cup of tea entertains me.  MsAdaSo does my computer.  The hotel is 150 years old, the building it is housed in is 200 years old.   We are in old London, in Kensington and a residential area.

The room is a corner room.  The Gore, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 All is old The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 except for the double pane windows which shields us from any traffic noise.  In the bathroom a surprise.  The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208 A “throne” for a toilet with pull chain and all.  throne, The Gore, pull chain toilet,   The Gore Hotel, London, throne, toilet I laugh when I use it the first time (and do so every time thereafter).  The room has such a proper English feel to it.

Tutu finds his spot. TutuRoom

We get a handwritten welcome along with a tray of fruit which I devour. The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208  The Gore Hotel, London, Miss Ada, Room 208

The weather hasn’t improved by the time of the concert but I still wear my highest heels, get a hotel umbrella and off we go to see Eric Clapton!  A snack in one of the RAH’s bar sets the mood for the night.

The Royal Albert Hall is a grande dame.  The Royal Albert Hall, Eric Clapton, London  Beautiful and plush in red and gold.  The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London, Eric Clapton  So much has happened within its walls. Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

And then there is Eric!

 Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

Tears In Heaven.  I’m in heaven.  Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London  Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

An acoustic set that was to die for! Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London

The departure Eric Clapton, The Royal Albert Hall, RAH, London and the short one and half block commute to the hotel where I have desert, a creme catalane (basically a creme brulee), that was really good.  Tea from the green room and upstairs we go.

I am liking London much more than I have ever liked it from my previous trips.

Nighty, night.  Come with me tomorrow… we are going to be kids all over again and the day after we will have more of Eric Clapton.  We’ll have fun.  You’ll see.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Kensington, London, rainy day, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

London Bound is London Arrived!

London BoundI get on my last airline in 24 hours and am so grateful that it is because I don’t think I could go on a fourth and conserve even a modicum of saneness.  British Airways is flawless in its operation.  British Airways BA also excels in service.  The planes, however, show their age.  Lots more room is a plus.  But the leather seats are cracking and the overall feeling is that of an aging woman who tries no longer to fix herself up.   Miraculously I cannot keep my eyes open any longer and fall asleep for most of the hour and twenty minutes from Berlin to London.  London Map

At the airport again my custom protocol is incredibly painless with smiling agents and super helpful people.  I’m really enjoying being an española!  The EU passport is a blessing.  Thank you abuelito!  I was his favorite – or so I was led to believe – and with this gift of nationality I know that it was true.

And it seems they know I’m coming… the camera crew is here!  Oh, not me, huh?  Someone is holding a Phelps sign.  Could it be the swimming medalist they are waiting for?  No.  They wouldn’t need a sign.    Waiting for me?  But some things do welcome me to London.  Welcome to London       Welcome Too

Heathrow ExpressI take the Heathrow Express which is beautiful, new, clean, efficient and free to terminal 4 where we will reunite.  Heathrow Express Train     Heathrow Exp. Inside

I have to transfer and now I realize how huge Heathrow is.  Again, everyone is super helpful.

I go to the ladies’ room and the only reason why I mention it is because I had the most frightening of encounters.  There, staring at me unflinching is death worn over!  It cruelly stares me down.  No amount of make-up will fix this so I don’t try.  I put some lipstick on though, some mascara and look at the mirror again.  She hasn’t left, but this reflection does not reflect how I feel!  I don’t try any more and leave towards our meeting point Costa Café.

I pass an exchange place and do a double take.  Yikes, $1.79 will buy a British Pound.  How can it be more valuable than the Euro?   But it is.  Normally (when not going to an exchange place) I can buy a British Pound for $1.51 and a Euro for $1.29 Wow.

Costa CafeSo at Costa I buy an Emmental cheese and mushroom toasted sandwich, my first British tea, and a bottle of water.  8 pounds.   About $12 which is starting to sound reasonable to me.   Costa Meal

 

I need to plug my computer.  Running out of battery and I realize I have forgotten a very important thing: a plug adaptor for my electronics.  Will probably buy here at the airport otherwise will have to go running around town in search of, which I don’t want to do.

I also have tried to get internet and bought a Boingo Hotspot thing.  It didn’t work.  Mac doesn’t seem to like it or there is a conspiracy against me going on-line once more.  I almost welcome the disconnect.  Oh bullocks, as the Brits would say, I don’t.  I want to get on my mail, my Facebook, my online Klout. 🙂  I also learned another word on the plane today.  They are not potato chips, they are crisps.

I’m starting to not think straight again.  Dean’s plane has arrived I think half an hour ago and he still isn’t here.  Hope he gets here soon or I may curl up in this comfy sofa and close my eyes  and forget where I am.  Jet lag you are not welcome here!

4:45 and still no reunion.  I have the address of the flat we are staying in so I take the Heathrow Express to Paddington and from there have no energy left to find this place on my own so I take a taxi.  I ask for his phone and call the person that is renting us the place.   Leave him a message.  He calls back (on the cabbie’s phone) and will meet me at 6:00.  He’s there when I arrive.  Lets me in and I have the pleasant surprise of a charming flat.  Flat Living Room   Flat Kitchen   Bedroom Flat    Tutu finds his spot.  Tutu Shelf  Tutu Upfront

And as an extra good surprise I get an email from Dean saying that he has not found me at the airport and he is on his way.  Only a few minutes later we reunite.

Nice start to our Europe trip.

Categories: Heathrow, London, subway, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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