Sport
  • Walking
  • 07m

Ellie Mae

Back from London! Had such a great time. Going to go and back-fill some tidbits both to remember them and in case anyone is interested in planning a trip themselves! Strangely, I'm not jet lagged or tired at all. The time change didn't affect me that much - it was only 5 hours, and I didn't get up super early local time at all when I was there so I think that helped. 

ALSO - my Vessi shoes were clutch. LOVED them. If anyone wants a $20 gift card, I have one to give! It has to be used by Jan. 31 and right now they have 15% off and free shipping. Christmas gift for anyone on your list? Let me know and I can send it your way!

Overall thoughts on London: I LOVED IT. It felt like a different version of New York - bigger, more genuine, more real, but the same vibe.

  • Riding the Tube was a trip - I was fascinated by it and took it everywhere. When I got home last night and took Atlanta's MARTA train, it felt really small and ridiculous that all of the residents in suburbs who have tried to get MARTA line extensions have voted it down. It will always be small, which makes me sad.
  • The London Pass was worth it. I was worried it wouldn't be, but I added up the admissions from all of the places I went and I would have spent 191 pounds without the pass. I spent 125 pounds on the pass. It was also great because I don't think I would have seen nearly as many cool things without it - having it and looking for opportunities to use it really made it worth it.
  • The maps apps where you don't have to use data were surprisingly accurate. I only have a work phone and wasn't going to ask them to pay for international data, so I downloaded a few mapping apps that can locate you without data (how?!) and route you via transit, walking, etc. I used the "maps.me" app to get EVERYWHERE and it worked well.
  • I had been reading a lot about safety and pick pocketers and thoroughly freaked myself out about it - for no good reason. I mean yes, you have to be aware of your surroundings and not make yourself an easy target, but I totally did NOT need the money belt I purchased or need to be so freaked out. I used a small cross body purse that I wore under my coat, and that worked brilliantly. It was concealed, but easy to get into when I needed. I only carried a bit of cash, a credit card, my passport and a spare phone charger - left everything else in the safe at the hotel. Never felt in danger with anyone getting weirdly close to me or being distracted or anything. Maybe other countries are more dangerous, or maybe I was just overly prepared, but all was well.

Sport
  • Walking
  • 30m

UP SO EARLY for my 9 a.m. flight. I got to the tube station around 5:30 a.m. and the gates were closed! Ummmm...! There was another traveler with a suitcase and we tried to figure out what was going on. Finally we just tried the gate and it wasn't locked, so we opened it and walked into this totally empty station. Found a worker and she said the first train wasn't until 5:47 a.m. - whew that was fine. I thought for a minute there was a strike or something and I'd have to spend $100 getting to the airport by taxi.

Flights home were good - I was so tired that I slept a lot on the long flight. The former aviation geek in me was really excited to fly on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner - it was cool to be on the plane because I knew the history behind the new composite materials used to build it (and where I used to work in Kansas builds the long forward section; I used to give factory tours), but I actually liked the 777 better for some reason. 

All in all, I was "traveling" for something like 22 hours today between walking, the Tube, two flights (4-hour layover in Toronto), airport shuttle, MARTA and finally getting in my vehicle and getting home. Ellie Mae was really happy to see me.

Sport
  • Walking
  • 1h 00m

6-7 miles today

Last full day, but I was so tired from the day before that I slept in a bit. This is why I love traveling solo because I can just decide to do that without annoying anyone else LOL! This whole time, I'd been utterly fascinated by the Tube system, riding it everywhere. I saw on the London Pass app that there was a London Transport Museum, so I headed there first. It was awesome - I loved learning about how the current Tube system came about, and they also had a future timeline for expanding it. It really made Atlanta's MARTA system look so small and piddly. 

After that I headed to Westminster Abbey and did their self guided tour. I had no idea so many name I recognized were buried there. No photos inside, but it was really great to see it. I walked around Covent Garden before heading to St. Paul's cathedral to continue my religious experience day. I climbed the 528 stairs to the top of the dome for some amazing sunset views, then walked around the church itself. The stairs were... a lot. Somewhere in here, I walked by a pub that had a sign saying they had gluten free fish and chips, and I just had to try them! It was GREAT! The mushy peas were not, but I did try them at least.

Back to the hotel to put my feet up for a few minutes and decide what to do for the night. I had actually tried to get tickets to the Monday night performance of Hamilton (the gals I met the first night were going) as they were only like $100! But I couldn't buy a ticket online because Capital One was trying to send me a verification code and it wasn't going through. But I did know that where I was staying, Soho, had a bunch of local theaters so I walked over to one and got a ticket for a show that night.

Before the show, I walked to an Indian restaurant because I heard the Indian food in London is great. I basically told this 80-year old guy (probably the owner) that I was new to Indian food and what would he suggest I eat? He asked me how spicy I liked things then said OK I will bring you out a selection of foods I think you'll like. And I did! I don't remember what it all was except for tandoori chicken and some sort of potato dish in creamed spinach - and yellow rice. It was amazing. 

The local show I went to was really out there - a three-person performance that was kind of raunchy and pretty funny. It's not something I'd necessarily recommend anyone go see, but I was glad I saw something local.

Sport
  • Walking
  • 2h 00m

Another 10+ mile day

I really wanted to experience changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, and I had researched the best places to post up to see things. One of the great articles I read said to just hang out on the "mall" road that leads to the palace - you won't get to see the physical changing of the guards (that actually happens BEHIND palace gates and hardly anyone can see it happen) but you'll get to see the procession and parade. This was GREAT advice as I didn't really want to be in the middle of the 1000s of people right by the gates. 

Churchill War Rooms was close by, so I decided to walk over there as I've heard it's cool. It was pretty neat, but I'm just not a huge museum person. It worked out well though, because they had a self-guided audio tour and you could just hit the highlights and go as fast or slow as you wanted. 

Then I decided to do Kensington Palace to continue my a Royal themed day - it was again self guided so great for me to breeze through at my own pace. Learned a lot about Queen Victoria.

Tower of London was next on my list and I didn't realize what a huge place this was. There wasn't a lot of guiding, you just wandered around the different areas. The biggest thing I wanted to see was the Crown Jewels, so I headed there first. They didn't allow photos, and you had to stand on a moving walkway to see them, but it was still cool.

I was pretty pooped at this point, but having bought the London Pass I was determined to get my money's worth LOL! Since I was right next to Tower Bridge, I popped over there to go up into the structure at the top, which was fun to see views of the city at night.

Sport
  • Walking
  • 2h 00m

Walked 10+ miles per my Garmin.

Today was the day I had a ticket for the London Eye, so I decided to do that first. It was pretty neat. After that, I looked at the London Pass app (I had purchased a 3-day pass) to see what was close by, and decided to hop on a River Thames boat tour. I sat in the open air section on the top so I could see better - and it was cool! I only took it one way, because I saw that stop was close to The Shard and I wanted to do that.

Went to the top of The Shard (70-something floors), which was neat and had great views of the city. Then I finally grabbed some food and roamed around Borough Market before heading back to the hotel. On the way back I stopped in a department store that seemed popular - Primark? It was like a way better version of H&M. I had very limited room to bring back extra stuff (carry on only) but I did buy a black wool coat, a work top and work skirt. The coat was only 20 pounds ($26!) and I have been meaning to get a black coat this winter. It's PERFECT. For dinner that night I walked to Chinatown and ate some fantastic Pad Thai. 

Sport
  • Walking
  • 30m

Overnight flight from Toronto to London wasn't bad at all. My knees started hurting for some reason, so had to stand up a few times. And props to Air Canada - I must have checked "gluten free" when I was buying my ticket because I was specifically given special gluten free meals and snacks! I was so impressed!

I decided NOT to do the Heathrow Express train because I didn't realize it was so expensive. It's much faster and a NICE train, but since I hadn't bought the fare in advance it was going to be 25 pounds each way, as opposed to 5-ish on the regular Tube. So I did the regular Tube and didn't have to transfer lines, so that was easy.

Was able to check into the hotel almost right when I got there (10:30 a.m.) so that was great. Took a couple hours nap then got ready for the food tour! Food tour was AMAZING. Five restaurants with a great, enthusiastic guide and four other Americans. The food was both eclectic (tacos, dim sum) and traditional (meat pie) - with cocktails included. Was happy and full at the end.

I ended up hanging out with two of the gals from the tour afterwards - we split a bottle of wine then they invited me to a meet up with one of their co-workers (they work for Visa) who was celebrating his birthday. We hopped in a black cab and went to this SUPER SWANKY bar where we were all woefully under dressed. But no one seems to care much there. We met up with the friend and chatted with a few of his friends for awhile, then everyone was dispersing so I walked back to the hotel. Wonderful start to the trip.

Partial travel day to London.

lisac957's Training Log


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