More London

Our first stop Friday morning was to walk across the Tower Bridge, and then take a tour of the Tower of London. The Tower is guarded by Yeomen Warders, more commonly known as Beefeaters, who are retired members of the Armed Forces and technically their job is to guard prisoners of the Tower. Now they act as tour guides, and we had a really enthusiastic and funny guide to show us around. We saw Traitor’s Gate, the spot where Anne Boleyn was beheaded, and the Crown Jewels. In a stroke of pure genius, they have those moving sidewalks (people movers, like in airports) that move slowly past the Crown Jewels display so that people can’t stand in front of each item forever and prevent others from seeing things. So smart, those Brits!
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After that we started the bus tour to see the the city. One unexpected sight while in London was the amount of signs promoting the NFL and people wearing NFL jerseys. There was a huge promotion of the NFL going on in the days leading to the game on Sunday where San Francisco was playing the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. One of the tour guides on the bus was explaining this game to the tourists and remarked that San Francisco was playing the “Jacksonville Jackals.” JR corrected the tour guide and said that they’re actually playing the “Jacksonville Jaguars” but he then went on to say “it doesn’t matter, the team’s rubbish anyway.”

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We saw several street performers – playing bagpipes, guitars and other instruments, but I was most impressed by these guys. I could have stared at them for hours! Seriously, how do they do that?

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We also did a walking tour called “Ghosts and Gaslight”. Our tour guide was fun and showed us around to several local pubs while telling us legends and ghost stories.

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JR tried a Sherlock Holmes Ale at this stop.

On our last night, I still hadn’t found my cheeseburger. I knew I needed to visit an American establishment to ensure I got what I wanted, and JR made quite a fuss when I suggested Five Guys. So, I convinced him to let us eat at the Rainforest Cafe (he’d never been to one before). Oh how I will pay for that choice. First, even though we went at a random time, it was beyond packed with kids running around screaming. JR kept saying “why are we eating at a Chucky E. Cheese in London??” I didn’t even care because my dinner was so delicious, and I followed it up with a fantastic dessert. I was also excited because they appeared to have fountain soda, which we never get here in Kosovo (or really in Europe anywhere). I had 3 Diet Cokes with my dinner and enjoyed each one. Free refills, hurrah! Until our bill came. We were charged 2.85 pounds PER Diet Coke.

I spent $14 in Diet Coke. Oops. JR’s face looked something like this.
shatner wtf

Overall, we had a great trip and hope we can visit again soon!

‘Ello, Ducky

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I can’t even remember where it started, but in college my friends and I would say “Ello, Ducky” with a British accent. I think it was a combination of our trip to Salzburg, Austria, and wishing we had accents and trying to pretend we did, and also our obsession with the classic Amanda Byne’s film, What a Girl Wants. A certain someone’s college boyfriend constantly reminded us, “You’re not British.” Apparently fake accents are only fun for the people doing them. Anyway, that was in my head the whole time that JR and I were in London.

Sarah Marshall London

We also said this to each other often during our trip. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a great movie.

For certain posts throughout the world, the quality of local medical care is such that they med-evac (medically evacuate) FSOs or their dependents to that location. London is the med-evac point for Kosovo, and that’s where they wanted to send me to get some standard tests at the end of the first trimester. Because I was considered on official “med-evac” status, my flight and hotel were covered, but we had to pay for JR’s flight. It saved us a decent amount of money for him to fly on a separate flight, so we planned to rendezvous at London’s Heathrow airport. We also decided, since we would already be in London from Wednesday to Friday, to extend our stay by two days and leave on Sunday (the hotel and any costs for extending the stay were paid by us).

We arrived at Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon, and while waiting for a cab, JR was having some flashbacks to his last visit to London during a study abroad semester in Wales his junior year of college. Something tells me that first trip to London – all carefree and young – was a bit different than this visit with his pregnant wife!

We took a cab to our hotel, and after checking in, I was determined to find a pub with a cheeseburger. He was excited to visit a pub for different reasons. Unfortunately, the British aren’t known for their cheeseburgers. We had a decent meal, and then went back to our hotel for naps. We found a great italian place for dinner – garlic bread, delicious. We passed by at least 100 bars advertising champagne and cocktails and I was quite disappointed that I couldn’t partake!

The next morning we woke up early for our appointment. It was walking distance from our hotel in a residential neighborhood. I was very, very nervous. I mean, I spend my life in a perpetual state of nervousness, but I was almost sick with worry. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long and the ultrasound tech called us back to the room to get started. In prior ultrasounds, you really couldn’t see much (well, JR said he saw the flicker of a heartbeat, but I really didn’t. I faked it for the doctor though, because I felt like a terrible person since I couldn’t see it.) This time, as soon as the image came up on the screen, it looked like an actual baby. Holy cow. We were able to hear the heartbeat, and take video of the images. It was a huge relief and a happy moment for us.

The doctor, who goes by Mr. instead of Dr., met with us briefly, told us that everything looked great and they just wanted to do a quick blood test and then send us on our way. The whole thing lasted less than an hour, so we had an entire day to check out the city.

It was sort of a last minute trip, which meant we didn’t really budget for it, and holy cow, that was a mistake. I mean, the city was very neat to see and we had great weather, but I was kind of put off by the crazy high prices for everything. We’ve become used to the lower prices of of food and drinks in Kosovo. And although we lived in DC, where the cost of living is quite high, the majority of the sights are free admittance.

So imagine our surprise when we walked up to the London Eye, excited to take a spin, and tickets were 18.90 pounds each. JR did a quick conversion in his head (the perks of being married to man who likes to budget) and we realized it would be $61 USD for both of us. Where I come from, you can ride a ferris wheel at the local carnival for two bucks! We wanted to make the most of our visit without breaking the bank, so we did a bit more research to figure out which places we were most interested in seeing, and we bought tickets for a hop on/hop off bus tour of the city.

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London Eye that we did not ride.

We did have one major splurge during our trip. We bought tickets to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. It was such a great show. The performances and music were so cool to see live, and we were really glad that we treated ourselves to it.

Some more pictures, and another post about our trip to coming soon!

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Me and Big Ben

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Westminster Abbey

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Churchill

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Lion King!

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View from our seats