Honeymoon Trip: Post Ten

27 Oct. 2012
4:24 pm Denver time

Wow, I never came back to this. Let’s see what else I remember …

I know I watched a few more movies on the flight – Clueless and Mission: Impossible. I also watched an interesting documentary on Costco and its popularity. But the flight was very long and very … ugh. I probably read more of my nook, too.

We landed in LAX, cleared customs, got our bag and then got back in the security line … where we were right next to Randy and Jason Sklar. Not A-list celebs by any stretch of the imagination, but Brandon and I enjoyed them both on ESPN’s old “Cheap Seats” show and the few times we’ve caught them on the “United Stats of America.”

After security, it was a long wait before our flight back to Denver. Both of us were ravenous so we got food – Brandon some Carl’s Jr. and me some chowder in a bread bowl. After way too long, we got on the flight and promptly decided to sleep … the entire flight. We got into Denver way late (after 10p), went home, and crashed.

The next day, we were up earlier than expected, went to the Rock ‘N’ Roll Denver expo … and ran the race the next day. But that’s not part of this story … is it?

Honeymoon Trip: Post Nine

20 Sept. 2012
7:47 am Denver time

Well, back on an airplane – this time back to the USA. Last I wrote, I was still in London and getting ready to start our last day. Well, last full day at least.

When I stopped journaling, we left the hotel and started walking our normal route – down Piccadilly toward Piccadilly Circus. We turned right at Regent St. and headed down toward the Thames. We made a turn at St. James Park … but went the wrong way. It wasn’t a big detour, but a little one, and we got to see the backside of Westminster Abbey (although, it may really have been the front), which was cool.

From there, we headed past Parliament
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and across the Thames, with the Imperial War Museum being our destination/goal. Dad suggested it and it was free, so we figured, why not. It was only for the “modern wars” (WWI to more recent), but still pretty cool. The exhibits I really remember were a wartime (WWII) house (LOVE propaganda posters),
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the secret war (that is, espionage) and one on the Holocaust.

The secret war one was pretty cool. I really liked the exhibition in that it raised questions at the end regarding espionage and spies and intelligence and whether it’s still needed. It provided a whole bunch of quotes for both the pros and the cons, but it left it open for discussion rather than making a judgement, which I appreciated. Plus it got Brandon and I discussing it, so mission accomplished there, I guess. British museums respect the fact that their visitors are intelligent people who can read and think. I feel U.S. museums dumb stuff down a bit too much.

The second exhibit I really enjoyed was the one on the Holocaust. It wasn’t as viscerally powerful as the museum in D.C. (no smell of shoes, for example), but extremely well done and I thought almost better than the Holocaust museum. Plus it was free! It had a lot of little anecdotes about people – mostly the Jews – and shared a glimpse into their lives. Sometimes that person lived; sometimes they didn’t. I was also struck, when reading their thing on Hitler’s rise to power, how my dad was right in that it was very similar to Obama’s. Felt kinda awful thinking it, but y’know.

(side note – it was really nice mostly avoiding election talk over here. couldn’t avoid it completely, but it was nice to have TV on and not see 5214630937 political ads)

From the Imperial War Museum, we headed back toward the Thames. We grabbed a tiny snack from a cafe (I grabbed a Magnum bar; forget what mrrmrr had – possibly just a Fanta) and kept heading along the Thames. We passed a lot of stuff I’d never seen before – the Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre,
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a book market, etc. We passed by an Eat, where we stopped for ham and Jarlsberg baguettes (and a packet of crisps for me).

We came upon the Clink Prison Museum
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which we hadn’t heard of and almost checked out, but it seemed just the slightest bit too cheesy to do that day. So unfortunately, we passed. We did stop at the Starbucks just down the street, though, for some more souvenir coffee cups. I also saw they actually had signature hot chocolate, which I haven’t had in years. Obviously I had to get some. I had forgotten how good it was … and how rich. It was nice having it, though – I had drunk SHC on our engagement trip to Monterey back in November 2009 – to have it again on our honeymoon/1st anniversary trip felt like a nice full circle type of thing.

After Starbucks – where we learned it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, we saw a pirate ship
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just down the street … and got our first London cache (finally). Then back along the Thames toward Tower Bridge, past the London Dungeon. We got some pictures of Tower Bridge – lucky enough, we got to see it in action for a cruise ship –
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as well as the Tower of London, just across the way. We headed back from whence we came, detouring off the path to find another cache.

We had brought some travel bugs with us and really wanted to drop them off, so we found a cache where we could. It definitely took us off the tourist path, to essentially a graveyard for prostitutes and unknowns.
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It was really quite cool and something we never would have seen had it not been for geocaching.

From there, the search for possibly another cache took us to the other side of the river, but we soon realized the difficulty and terrain – if the tide was in (which it was), it was totally inaccessible. Dangit. So back to the hotel it was,
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since we were both about dead by that point. We got back and flopped, eventually deciding we needed dinner. We gave up and decided to treat ourselves to room service – honeymoon and all – but room service was being retarded and we couldn’t get through over the phone. We really didn’t want to eat at the restaurant, but didn’t have much of an apparent choice by that point. We went downstairs, told the front desk that room service essentially sucks and went to the restaurant … before realizing that we were way too underdressed. We decided to take the staff’s suggestion of ordering food there and having them take the order to room service. Much better. About 30 minutes later, we got our Hilton chicken club (meh), extra chips (mmmm) and sparkling water.

After dinner, some naughty reading, some last good honeymoon sex, and then bed.

The alarm went off early this morning so we could shower, pack and eat breakfast while still catching a tube line out to the airport by no later than 8:30. We were on the Underground by 8:15 which was good. We got to the airport and checked in with plenty of time … which was good, because security at Heathrow was a disaster. Apparently there was a terrorism threat or something, because tons of people and bags were taken aside for additional screening. Both our Travelpros were set aside, but thankfully just re-ran through and fine. But Brandon’s Timbuk got the full treatment, causing us to be stuck near security for at least 20 minutes. However, all was good and we obviously got on the plane.
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We had our pretzels and our hot lunch (sketchy salad, roll, crackers and laughing cow, either chicken and mushrooms over rice (eh) or some beef with wine sauce, ptotatoes and veggies (ick) and some crumb cake). I already watched Cars, am journaling now … and not sure what’s next …

Honeymoon Trip: Post Eight

19 Sept. 2012
9:50 am London time

Well here we are, our last full day in London. But before I start it, let’s recap yesterday …

Yesterday we ate breakfast and then head out into the city. We walked along the park and up toward Marble Arch and Oxford St. On the way, we passed Grosvenor St./Sq. and little parts of me giggled – the Pride and Prejudice fangirl parts of me, anyway.

At Marble Arch, we turned right and down Oxford St. We stoped in a few stores:
– Primark, a discount-like department store. I saw some cute stuff that was relatively affordable, but I wondered about practicality and the line to try stuff on was ridonk.
– Harvey Nichols, which had the Yo! Sushi on top of it … pretty sure it used to be a Marks and Spencer back in the day …
– Selfridges, to look at the food hall
– H&M (found nada)
– Topshop – again, a disappointment
– Hamley’s, a giant toy store where we bought some Olympic-themed taxi cabs.
Hamley’s was on Regent Street, which we continued walking down. We found Carnaby Street, center of the swinging ’60s (not as cool as I thought it might be) and continued down and found ourselves back in Piccadilly Circus. Frothere, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at M&S for their 3.50 pound lunch deal (sandwich, drink and crisps/fruit). Drink was fine as was the fruit, but the sandwich? Yuck. Ew. Nasty. So lunch was fruit and the snacks we had back at the hotel.

After a little bit of resting, we wandered back down to Hyde Park to finally do the Cycle Hire bikes (like Denver’s B-cycle or Boston’s Hubway). We had fun riding through the park
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but had issues trying to change out cycles. What started out fun turned kind of disastrous, unfortunately. We got Brandon a new bike and just kept mine (no space to change out) and went back toward the hotel. The CycleHire machine was being screwy with Brandon’s card and we wanted to make sure his card was still okay.

Back at the hotel, we checked it out and everything was happily okay. We chilled for a bit and hashed some stuff out (namely, why I have to be happy for mrrmrr to be happy) before heading back out to dinner.

We walked to Leicester Square and found a pub – very similar to the one we ate at a few days ago – and had dinner. I tried a Staropramen, a beer I’d had in the Czech Republic and enjoyed, but unfortunately, it was a bit too strong for me this time around. My fish and chips
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was delicious (mushy peas less so) and Brandon enjoyed his steak and ale pie.

After dinner, we walked up to Covent Garden to try and find dessert. Failing there, we just ended up grabbing some ice cream at the Haagen Dazs in Leicester Square – me lemon sorbet and Brandon cookies and cream. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped in Cool Brittania, a touristy shop to pick up a few things and then in Waterstone’s, a book store. I picked up The Ninety Days of Genevieve for Gen (erotic book with a character named Genevieve? No way I can resist that …) and the Wild and Wanton edition of Pride and Prejudice for me. I’ve started it and … it is interesting. Lydia is made out to be a complete little hooker … which isn’t really a surprise, really and yeah. Some of it isn’t surprising – the sexual tension’s kind of obvious in the original – but it’s also strange all the same.

After some reading of questionable things, it was finally time for some honeymoon sex (yay!) and then bed.

Up this morning, food, shower and a little packing and now it’s time to enjoy again.

Honeymoon Trip: Post Seven

18 Sept. 2012
9:35 am London time

Back again, this time after breakfast!

Yesterday was fairly lazy. After we ate, we essentially stayed in bed with our compression gear on until about noon. I was able to find a relatively comfortable spot to read in so I grabbed on and enjoyed it.

Around noon, we finally started moving. First stop was Boots to get more ibuprofen. We then stopped at Starbucks for a bottle of water and we got more travel mugs. They had a fun thing on the menu board with actual instructions for customers to order their how-you-like-it frappuccinos. I think we need that back in the states since people STILL don’t know how to properly customize their damn drinks. We also chatted with the barista at the register on visas and traveling and whatnot.

From there, we went into Green Park and took the meds before strolling down to Buckingham Palace through the Canada Gates at Green Park. We took a few of the requisite photos
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and then headed back towards Knightsbridge. We stopped for lunch in the National Geographic Cafe (we’d been in the store a few days prior) – Brandon had a sandwich and I tried some grilled sourdough (too grilled) and the soup of the day – a mushroom parmesan (too much parmesan). Essentially, lunch was a fail for me.

After lunch, Brandon stopped in a cafe for a slice of lemon cheesecake and an Americano. I stopped in Topshop, a British clothing store I always read about. It did have quite a few cute things in it, but I didn’t get anything for two big reasons:
1.) stuff was really pretty expensive (and the conversion rate was ridonk – 2 to 1? srsly?)
2.) I really couldn’t find a damn thing in my size
It was really kind of depressing, honestly. It made me feel broke (which I kinda am) and fat (which I’m not comparatively, but in the world of fashion, yeah I am). So that was fabulous.

Depressing aside, we headed back toward the hotel, discussing deep issues along the way. Why does it seem like everyone over here can afford this ridiculously expensive crap? Why do I feel like a broke-ass piece of crap when America is supposed to be so wealthy? Brandon explained it as they’re taken care of over here – they a.) get paid more in the more-menial jobs; and b.) get retirement taken care of thus eliminating the need to save. Essentially, kind of what the Democrats want, if we’re going to get political. And it really made me think … is that really so bad? It seems more “fair” … and yet I know the systems over here aren’t quite as awesome as they seem on the outside given economics and stuff. It made for some really deep thinking that I still haven’t figured out. I think I’ll need to do some research when I get home.

In any case, we stopped at Marks and Spencer food market on the way back to the hotel. Brandon ditched me to go back to the hotel because he needed to pee, so I stayed to wander and pick up a few things – a bag of crisps, a bottle of sparkling water, shortbread for me, Twix for Brandon and a profiterole dessert to try (it was okay). Then back to the hotel for a few more hours of vegging out and reading.

Around 7p, we went back out again. We wandered down toward Piccadilly to find some food. Neither of us were horribly hungry, so we just ended up getting 2 pound pieces of pizza from a cart … that tasted like crappy 2 pound pizzas. Blech. We wandered a few different paths after that, including into the Chinatown area.
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We also had another fairly deep discussion – basically on why I’d been kind of quiet the last few days (besides being in pain).

I explained it as that I’ve been finally been able to truly relax on this trip. Everytime (well, virtually every time) I or we have traveled, it’s always been go go go with lots to see and very little time to see it in. We know we’re in said locatino for so little time that we need to maximize the time we have. We did it in Paris, for example. But in London, we have so much time that the first day here, we said we had time – plenty of time – to explore and see things. So we have taken our time and relaxed. And yes, that’s meant a decent amount of time in the hotel room reading, guilt free. I haven’t worried. Except for an uncomfortable bed and some pain, I feel almost free. There are money worries lurking in the back of my brain (because it’s ass-expensive here; see earlier), but otherwise, I’ve essentially been able to truly decompress and relax for the first time in who knows how long and it’s been really, REALLY nice.

Our wandering got us onto some quite possibly sketchy streets, so we made our way back to tourist land and actually found a donut shop. It was a very expensive donut shop – 1.75 for a doughnut which is what, $2.75? $2 more than most places! – and they were quite horrible, but it was fun
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and made us laugh, which I think we both needed at that point.

After finishing up those awful pastries, we popped in another Boots – ideally to find something cheaper to drink, but they failed on that. However, we were able to find the stupid toothpaste his mom wanted as well as a few Cadbury bars for mrrface. We got those and headed back to the hotel, stopping in M&S again for drinks and, for me, another bag of crisps. Stupid salt.

Once back at the hotel, Brandon made me take a sleeping pill, but I don’t really think it worked too well for me. I dunno. I slept, but I don’t think as deeply, soundly or as quickly as I should have.

Still, back up this morning, then breakfast, then shower and now, off to start the day.

Author’s note: That Chinatown photo is probably the photo I’m most proud of from the entire trip.