Sunday, September 25, 2016

Europe 2016: Part 1

For part 2 of the trip (Netherland, Ireland and financing) click here.
London
Day 1- (2.7 miles walked)
We first had a layover in Houston. With our United MileagePlus Credit Card we have passes to the United Club. So we hung out, got some food, and I did some work to get ready for the upcoming school year. I think the club is one of my favorite parts about our United card.

Our flight to London was 10 hours, so we paid for the economy plus upgraded seats. It was totally worth the 4 feet of leg room! This is our legs completely stretched out and Jake is 6'3! It was no business class, but not too shabby on the space.

Day 2- (12.63 miles walked)
We landed in London and took the underground to our hotel. Our room wasn't available yet so changed and headed out. First we stopped by Camden Market. We had issues with our debit card getting locked, so instead of being able to pull money and go a little crazy like we wanted to, we spent a few hours calling our credit union from our hotel.
Camden was nothing but shops and food for miles. 

We couldn't get money out but we could still at least pay with our credit card where we could use it. We had to go to King's Cross station and I literally cried when we got to Platform 9 3/4.

We walked around downtown London and walked along the boardwalk at the River Thames. It was beautiful!


Day 3- (14.07 miles walked)
We started the morning early because of our jetlag which was nice. I love getting out early before any of the crowds. We first went to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. After Italy, we loved art work, so we went through quickly and saw some pretty awesome works.

We also went to the British Museum. My favorite thing was all the mummies and artifacts from Egypt.

By the British Museum was the University of London. We walked around campus and hung out on the grounds. 

We got on a bus to head back towards the boardwalk but along the way we saw the Theater for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. (Jake was in tears this time). We got off and checked the ticket office. They'd been sold out for over a year but they had a cancellation... for the night we left London! 


We got pictures anyway and explored SoJo, London. We both loved this area. 

Like I said, it was an early start to the day, so after SoJo, we got on a boat and took a cruise down the Thames. We saw Shakespear's Globe Theater, Tower Bridge and got off to walk around the Tower of London.

After this, we caught a train to the Warner Bro. Studios to see the sets and everything from the Harry Potter Movies! (This was basically a big Harry Potter city). I loved this tour! There was so much to see and it was so entertaining!


Boys Dormitory

You walk through on your own, but before they let you through they have a group start at the entrance to the great hall. They asked if there were any kids celebrating anything. I promptly yelled that we were celebrating our anniversary... So they let us be the ones to come open the door to the great hall. I was so happy. 

 Plus I got butterbeer again. (And Butterbeer Icecream!)



Day 4- (10.68 miles walked)
Again, we started the day early. We had a change of hotels so we checked out in the morning and moved over. We have an IHG credit card which is officially my favorite thing! We had enough reward points just from signing up to book 3 nights of this trip for free. Plus each year they give you a free night in any hotel so we booked the most expensive hotel in any of the cities. More to come later.

But with the IHG card, because we are members, we got there probably before 9 am, but they allowed us to check in anyways, they also upgraded to the best room available. Besides our super expensive hotel night. This was my favorite hotel.


After we checked in, we rented some bikes and rode around London a bit. I LOVED this! We road to the bridge next to big ben. We rode along the boardwalk and then we stopped at Westminster's Abby.

The Abby was ridiculously overpriced, but really neat in the end. I didn't realize how much happened, like royal weddings and funerals, and how many tombs we would see, like Mary Queen of Scots, Sir Isaac Newton, and countless others.

After Westminster's Abby we went to the Churchill War room museums. This was super cool and I highly recommend it. I didn't think I'd like it that much but went anyways because I just thought of the disappointment my brother and Mom would feel had they known I was that close and didn't go. They had all of Churchill's Medals, materials, I mean, it was beyond cool. 
Along the way we also passed the most British Scenes I've ever seen.

From the Museum we went Buckingham Palace and the park. It wasn't all that exciting but we had to do it.

Finally, we got tickets and went on the London Eye. We had a beautiful view of the city. This was one of my favorite things! 




Again from there, we walked along the boardwalk again and found the most delicious burger I've ever tasted. We went back and bought more.
Day 5- (6.91 miles walked)
We took the morning easy, walked around and enjoyed the city some more. Our hotel had a pet dog, which was awesome! We walked and biked around the city some more and then that afternoon, we got to the train station for our train to Paris.

Side note, book those tickets in advanced. Our train to Paris ended up being our most expensive purchase on the trip. It would have been WAY cheaper for us to fly, but we just decided to suck it up and not worry about travel to and from the airport. Had we booked earlier, it wouldn't have been an issue. 

Paris
Day 1
We arrived at the train station and walked to our hotel. This trip we decided to spend a lot more on hotels so we got what we wanted and were comfortable. 

We walked around the city a bit and I LOVED it! I loved all the balconies and flowers. The buildings had gorgeous architecture. As we were walking we checked Yelp for the best food near us. We ended up at (of all places) a Vietnamese/Thai restaurant. And my goodness it was SO delicious! I day dream about having that meal again.


Day 2- (16.97 miles walked)
We were still jet-lagged and waking up super early. Paris however did not. We couldn't find anywhere open for breakfast! We walked around trying to find anywhere to eat! All we found was a starbucks, so we got some donuts and muffins.

After breakfast we hit up the louvre! It was HUGE. We walked to just the things we wanted to see and I think we still clocked like 7 miles of walking. We didn't even see 15% of the museum. It was nuts!

From there we walked across the river, walked through some neighborhoods, got the first of MANY crepes. 

We ended up at The Cathedral of Notre Dame. I was standing out side and a man walked by me and put a couple bird seeds in my hand. I was instantly covered!

We were planning on going to The Palace of Versaille the next day but found out they were having some festival which would close part of it down. So we went this afternoon. 

We walked through the palace which was crazy, ridiculous. We also saw about .4% of the gardens. This place was HUGE but really cool. This is the Hall of Mirrors, the room where the Treaty of Versaille was signed, ending World War I. The Treaty of Paris, ending the American Revolutionary war in 1783 was also signed at Versaille.

Yelp worked so well for us the night before, so we did it again, and ended up with Burritos and Quesadilla's. I kid you not, it was literally the best burrito I have ever had!

Day 3- (13.64 miles walked)
We first thing went back to Notre Dame in the morning because we were able to walk to the top of the bell towers. This was actually one of my favorite things we did in Paris. The view was to die for, the gargoyles were sweet. It was awesome.



After Notre Dame we got some drinks and snacks and relaxed in front of the Eiffel Towel. I didn't expect to think much of the Eiffel Tower but there was an element of being star struck while sitting out there. It was gorgeous.

Later we went to lock bridge, and on to Arc de Triomphe. We climbed to the top and had a sweet view of all the streets. 


We got lost a little bit and then ended up not getting to the Musee d'Orsay like we had hoped before it closed. I'm sad we missed out on it, but we went to the Pompidou, which ended up being a whole ton of Picasso and weird ass art. We stayed about 15 minutes and headed out to go listen to all the street music outside. 

Day 4- (8.42 miles walked)
We woke up and walked to the Basilica Sacre Coeur way up the hill of the Monmatre district. We first got some crepes for breakfast (we were waking up later by this point and shops were open). We sat at our little crepe shop and ate with the church as our view. It was a priceless moment. 

We walked through the church and then through Monmartre, which was basically a row of sex shops and strip clubs. It was very interesting, and then we got to Moulin Rouge. We got some pictures and headed out.

We went to the Paris Parthenon and then hung out one more time around the Eiffel Tower. We soaked up our last night in Paris, which was incredible of course. 

Belgium
Day 1- Brugge- (12.51 miles walked)
We woke up in the morning and caught our train from Paris to Brugge. When we got to Brugge we caught a short bus ride into the center of the city, and ultimately our hotel.

We had told this hotel we were celebrating our 4th anniversary in Europe, so they upgraded our room! We had a huge balcony with the coolest view of the little street we were on. The hotel was great!

We first walked around the grote markt, right by our hotel. We bought fries first thing. Who knew these would be THAT delicious! We also saw a bookshop that would be opening for a few hours that day to sell Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Yes, we went back and bought one right away.

We walked down to the canals around the town. We caught a canal tour by boat right after.

This was one of the most quant, beautiful towns I've ever been in. And it smelled like Heaven. We walked all through the streets. We bought our first Belgium Waffle... covered in Belgium chocolate. I would fly back again just for this!

We hiked to the top of the bellfry tower at the markt. Super cool.

For dinner we got a traditional steak with mushroom sauce and a traditional beef stew cooked in beer, both served with fries of course. (Insert mouth watering emoji)

After dinner we walked to a park, and around the outskits of town. Basically we walked a lot, which was probably good because we LOADED up on Belgium chocolate and waffles.

But those waffles.

Day 2- Brugge/Brussels- (9.96 miles walked)

We woke up in Brugge and caught a short train to Brussels. (We went on a search for waffles first). We got to Brussels and started the walk to our hotel. I instantly wanted to leave this city, I won't lie. I found that walk absolutely awful. When we got to our hotel, they too had upgraded us to a wonderful room! The area ended up being okay too. The room was also fantastic. Just that walk from the station...











We walked around our hotel and then to downtown. We first stopped at the Palace of Brussels, the home of the King and Queen. It was also across the street from the Parc de Bruxelles which was really neat. We walked around and hung out in the park for a bit.

We walked to the grand Palace/ Grote Markt which was a giant square surrounded by more shopping and delicious food. We know. We HAD to have more of that Belgium beef stew.

The last thing on our list in Brussels (at least that we could get to before other things closed) was Manneken pis. (Man peeing) It is a famous water fountain of a boy peeing. Little did we know it was like a foot tall. It was so dumb and surrounded by tourists. But we did get more waffles... again.

After the dumb statue, we shopped and explored the streets. We ate to our hearts content in Belgium, and then relaxed in our awesome hotel.

For the rest of the trip, continue on to part 2 here. 
For the rest of our travels click here. 

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