Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

A Full Day in London

Saturday, September 22nd, 2012

Our overnight flight from Dulles touched down in London at just after 6am local time. Despite only a couple of hours of sleep and some jet lag, we were still quite excited to have finally arrived in the UK. An hour ride on the tube (my first) brought us to the Piccadilly Circus stop and after a short walk, we found ourselves at Piccadilly Backpackers… “London’s most central hostel”. Notice how they highlight only location in their tag line. “Sketchy”, “dirty”, and “dingy” are words I would use to describe the accommodations as we crammed into a 10×11 room with two bunk beds. However with only one night in London on the front-end of the trip, we would certainly be able to make due.

Check-in wasn’t until 1pm so after checking our bags, we had enough time for a traditional English breakfast – eggs, sausage, bacon, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, toast – and a quick Wi-Fi stop at McDonald’s before making our way to Green Park for a walking tour of the city. We were met by our tour guide, Suzy, at 11am and spent the next few hours seeing the typical sights of London: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament among others.

Buckingham Palace

National Gallery at Trafalgar Square

Westminster Abbey

Following the tour, we stopped at a pub near Trafalgar Square for a late lunch, including more traditional fare of fish and chips, as well as the first pints of the trip. Being a bit beat at this point, we made our way back to the hostel to check-in and enjoy a little downtime before heading out for the evening.

While checking our bags earlier in the morning, we let the attendant talk us into purchasing tickets for a pub crawl sponsored by the hostel. Being new to London nightlife, it seemed like a good idea. In hindsight, I’m not sure we saw the best bars London has to offer (perhaps quite the opposite) but it did make for a fun evening and served as a great kickoff to the trip.

Pub Crawl

Tomorrow we head to Liverpool via train. While we were never able to score tickets to Liverpool vs. ManU, we’ll find a pub somewhere to watch. I’m looking forward to meeting some proper hooligans and making the most of the quick stop.

UK Adventure

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

It has been just over 20 months since my last international adventure. Work has continued to provide me with opportunities to travel within the US but I have struggled to find an exciting destination outside of the states that works for me and at least one of my friends. My buddy Jeff continues to be my “go to” when it comes to international travel and despite some conversations around both Australia and New Zealand, a different opportunity came up as of late with a larger group of friends.

Conrad is a buddy of mind that I worked with at a prior job, and is actually the one that originally introduced me to both Jeff and another one of my good friends, Jerry. Conrad moved back down to Florida about five years ago but during his time in DC, I spent most of my Friday and Saturday nights with these guys. With Conrad in Florida, we obviously don’t hang out as much as we used to but we stay in touch, and it’s given Jeff, Jerry, and me an excuse to head down to Jacksonville from time to time.

Earlier this year, talk kicked up amongst the four of us about a potential trip to the United Kingdom this September. Jeff and I both have birthdays in September, Jerry and I are both big soccer fans, and we hadn’t been down to visit Conrad in a while. As happens with a bunch of guys when a topic like this comes up, there’s a lot of talk and wondering if it will actually happen but it all became real when I pulled the trigger on four tickets to London for Sept 20-30.

We’ve done an excellent job coordinating our 10 days abroad via email. London was a no brainer. Liverpool was highlighted in one blog post as one of the “three must-see UK cities outside of London”. Scotland was highly recommended by several friends and would present some of the beautiful landscapes that Jeff and I have grown accustomed to during our travels.

With this being our first “big” trip as a group, it was great to see everyone carry their own weight in the planning department. I took care of flights, Jerry handled all major travel within the UK, Conrad booked accommodations, and Jeff found a tour package for our time in Scotland. After all was said and done, our itinerary looks like this…

  • London: Sept 21-22
  • Liverpool: Sept Sept 22-23
  • Scotland: Sept 23-28
  • London: Sept 28-30

As always, we’re trying to pack as much as humanly possible into each day. Highlights will include catching Liverpool v. ManU in a pub in Liverpool, Fulham vs. Man City live and in person in London, and hopefully catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster during our tour of the Scottish highlands.

Work has been tough as of late and with Fall activities ramping up, a nice break before they get into full swing is much needed.