Friday, July 1, 2016

Cheerio England!

     So, I know it's been awhile...a long while, a VERY long while since I actually sat down and wrote something.  Like a real post with sentences, other than the five I do for Funny Friday posts (which I love posting).  So here it goes...

     In May, yes May (I know, it was last month), my parents came out to Germany for a visit for two weeks.  And since the only time the hubby and I get to travel is when my parents can watch the kiddos for us, we took advantage of one of the weekends that they were here to go visit England.  We both have never been there before, so we were really excited about our trip.

     After we got the ok for my parents to watch the kiddos, we booked our flights with Eurowings and I found a great hotel called The Tudor Inn Hotel downtown London with (within walking distance of the Victoria Train Station and the Apollo Victoria Theatre.

     It was going to be a quick trip, Friday through Monday, so we (ahem, I) didn't plan much.   Plus we were planning on having out with some of the hubby's friends who lives there.  Before our trip I made sure to research a few things beforehand.  For example, I recently discovered having an Oyster Card definitely makes traveling around England, London especially, a lot easier.  You can purchase the card before your visit prepaid for different amounts depending on how long your visit is.  I just got us two 3-Day passes.  They can be used for the Overground Trains, Buses, Docklands Light Rail and the London Underground (subway).

     Another helpful hint I discovered was getting the The London Pass, which offers special deals and discounts on many of the popular attractions, shows, and tours.  Since we would be in London, there were only 2 main things I wanted to see....Can you guess what they were?  The London Eye...nope, Big Ben...nope, London Bridge...nope, Buckingham Palace...nope.  I wanted to see Wicked and the Harry Potter Tour at the Warner Bros. Studio.  Having The London Pass, I was able to get discounted tickets, which was awesome! 

     Here's how our weekend planned out...Friday arrived at Heathrow Airport in the afternoon.  Right after getting off the plane (thank goodness for carry on bags, no waiting on checked baggage!), we found a vending machine to get the hubby a temporary SIM card for his phone and then the exchange desk to get some British Pounds.  Once that was all settled we took the Underground (Tube) to Victoria Station, using the prepaid Oyster Cards.  Walked to our hotel to check in, then walked around, found a bite to eat (Fish & Chips), went back to the hotel to get dressed up to see Wicked.  Wicked was so awesome, fell in love with "The Wizard of Oz" all over again.  Even purchased the soundtrack that I listen to it all the time.  The hubby even admitted to liking it too.  After the show, we walked to a little Dim Sum restaurant for a light snack before heading back to the hotel.

     Saturday morning we checked out of the hotel, we stopped for a little breakfast before taking the train all the way out to the country to go visit the hubby's friends.  It was a LONG train ride, but it was nice seeing the English country side.   After getting settled in the guest room, we headed out to one of their favorite restaurants for some lunch, which of course included a true pint of Apple Cider.  Here's a little fact...English love their ciders and most will prefer it over a pint of beer.  Now THAT's my kind of country.  I am totally not a beer girl!  I have tried many a brew in my day, but I cannot drink them.  But ciders on the other hand, are just my thing!   After consuming the last crumb of our A-MAZ-ING Lobster Roll with Thermidor sauce on the side, some real Chips (fries) with malt vinegar splash, and of course, a pint of cider, we headed to one of their favorite pubs....for yes you guessed it.  Another pint of cider!  Since we didn't have any plans or ankle biters with with, not counting their little cute puppies, we decided to do a mini pub crawl.  I think we went to a total of 3 pubs, each having a pint of cider (different brands) at each place.  Good thing their house was walking distance from all the pubs.  It was so much fun.  Later that night they had made reservations at their favorite Italian restaurant, which was so delish!  A couple of bottles of wine, some tasty shrimp appetizers, an awesome leg of lamb with smashed sweet potatoes with a blueberry reduction sauce, and a truly tasty Tiramisu for dessert, we took a real English cab back to one of the pubs for another pint of cider.  We walked back to their house and you would think being up till midnight, we would've called it a night.  NOPE!  The guys decided it was time to start some karaoke to Oasis.  We stayed up way too late, but had a great time making memories.

     The next morning, Sunday, we rolled out of bed early enough to go get a true English Breakfast before making the drive out to Warner Bros. Studios for the Harry Potter Tour.  I had been waiting for this tour forever.  If you haven't guessed, I'm quite a Potter fan.  I mean, didn't you see my Harry Potter Movie Party post awhile back?  Anyways...the hubby is a closet Potter fan, but his friends aren't.  So it was really cool being able to experience this tour with some true fans.  This tour is so amazing, and there is so much to see and learn.  We definitely plan on visiting it again when we take the kiddos next visit.  It was neat to see all the actual sets, props, costumes, makeup, masks, animatronics they used in the real movies.  I mean, I actually got to walk in the Great Hall, walk down Diagon Alley, and go aboard the real Hogwarts Train!  Not only that, but they also offered real Butter Beer in the Back Lot.  After the tour the hubby even admitting he thought it was amazing and the best tour he has been on. YAY!  After our magical tour we went to a local grocery store to pick up some stuff to BBQ for dinner.  When we got back to the house, I took a much needed nap and woke up to dinner being ready.  We dined outside in the unusually warm weather, according to our friends.  After dinner we popped in a Harry Potter movie and called it an early night, since we had to fly back home the next day.  (To see more pictures from the Harry Potter Tour, Click Here)

     Monday, it was time to go.  We packed our stuff up, enjoyed some yummy bacon sandwiches with brown sauce made by our friends, then took the train back to Heathrow Airport to catch our flight.  Since we had some time, we took a few different trains to go see the famous stations.  We saw Victoria Station, King's Cross Station, and Paddington Station, they were all so cool.  Before we got on our flight home, we enjoyed some yummy lunch.  I got the Shepard's Pie with mash and cabbage with a cider, of course.  One of German neighbors picked us up and took us home.  The kiddos and my parents were happy to see us.  It was a great mini vacation.  We can't wait to go back again!

     I even brought back a little England home with us...some Paddington Bears for the kiddos and a Double Decker Cadbury candy bar for me. 

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