Exhausted and Excited – #uk2k16 Day 1

13776008_10210067010972508_5532403140913924437_nAs some of you know, I just came back from a quick trip to the UK with my husband and two of my kids. What you may not know is that this was a ‘celebration’ trip for our eldest son, Benjamin, who graduated in June and has received a substantial scholarship to a small liberal arts college. As a reward for him, a ‘memorial’ for his Grammy who passed away in January, AND an introduction for Ben to the world of travel, we embarked on his fast and furious adventure.

Our 16 year old son, Aaron, didn’t want to come along, so we took our 14 year old daughter, Lydia, instead. The three other kids 13775350_10210067014332592_8000029728366857675_nstayed with my parents who were so gracious to take them for 8 days. (Btw, the kids had a BLAST)

So, I’m going to give you guys a little bit of the ‘behind the snaps’ look at our trip. Of course I’ll share pics, but I’ve posted all of them on FB. Here is where I tell a little bit MORE about the trip.

We were grateful to have two wonderful guides for this week. Peter and Ilona Greyling are part of a wonderful group known as Christian Heritage Tours, where they take you behind the basics and help you explore the historical Christian threads running through so much of the UK (and beyond).  Their website is here: http://www.christianheritagelondon.org/

13654293_10210067015212614_9069452768526187829_nArriving at 7am in Heathrow, we spent the next hour and a half making it through customs, getting our bags (Lydia’s did not arrive), and exchanging our money. Benjamin brought money he’d saved just for the trip with the sole purpose of purchasing books.

Ilona met us outside baggage claim and it was off to the city. We checked into our nice hotel (Premiere Inn Monument) and Ilona made certain they gave us a family room. One thing of note – England is NOT prepared for bigger families 🙂 The cars are small and the hotel rooms are too. If you plan to travel with 3 or more kids, definitely plan on finding a guesthouse/rental house of some sort. Estate cars will travel 5 fairly comfortable, but to travel with more people you’d have to hire a 7 seater or an MPV (but if you hire a 7 seater you may not have room for luggage since the last 2 seats fold out from the boot of the car). A MPV is our version of a minivan, basically.

13781742_10210067018172688_1766641020316951281_nBUT….since we had escorts, we didn’t have to hire a car. London was our base of operation for most of the trip. Our sites for our first day were a City Cruise of London down the Thames, The Tower of London, ending with evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The streets were crowded, construction slowed the city buses, and the temp rose to a sweltering 87 (super high for London). Pair that with no sleep for over 24 hours, and the crew was wilting by 3pm 🙂

13654254_10210067021732777_4420597961720246858_nThe Tower of London and evensong were the highlights of this day. People do not use the wonderful guides at tourist sites very well. These people are a plethora of knowledge and REALLY want to share. I asked the first guide at the Tower one question and he took us basically on a private tour of the armory at the Tower, giving us detailed information we might not have gotten otherwise.

A women’s choir brought the music at evensong at St. Paul’s. Oh my goodness. The buildings is pure artestry. Vibrant colors explode from the enormous domed ceiling high above, lined with such gold it’s almost glistening. It’s certainly set an ‘awe’struck scene.

Needless to say, Ben and I took on the challenge of mastering the Tube by the end of the week – and the four of us were grateful to collapse for sleep after our first day.

A few notes:

Londoners are posh dressers

The Tube is surprisingly quiet

People were friendly – super friendly. They don’t usually initiate the conversaionts (like we do in the south) but once the conversation starts, they’re fantastic.

For some fun videos from our first day, check out these links 🙂

https://www.wevideo.com/embed/#742781091

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