A Taste of England

A Taste of England

This morning, I was exhausted. I didn’t sleep well. I never do on Sunday nights. Once we arrived in Oakland, we went to the Starbucks in the basement of the Cathedral and I got a Venti Caramel Latte. It was not that great. The woman who usually makes the coffee wasn’t there until later.

When I got to my desk, I sat down and started cranking out requests and answering e-mails. I mostly have organizing to do. I am taking it to project by project today. All of a sudden, one of my favorite professors to work with, walked by my office and he and I talked about England and summer. He then said, “I have something for you.” He went into his office and retrieved the gift and came back. I stood up and saw it it was a big box of Clipper tea! I couldn’t find this anywhere. I was so glad he remembered! I thanked him and I am so excited! A big old mug of Clipper should make his Monday taste a little sweeter!

Au Revoir Paris, Hello Again England

This morning, when we woke up I was somber. It was time to leave Paris. I hope we will be back. I was quiet and sad this morning. We got showered, got dressed and then went back to Tea Follies for breakfast for the final time.
When we arrived to the restaurant, the waiter recognized us and smiled. He looked me and the eyes and he said, “Bonjour.” I smiled and said, “Bonjour.” We took a seat at the same table, as yesterday. It was a bit chilly to start this morning, but it was going to warm up to be another hot one in Paris.
When the waiter came to our table, we both ordered the double espresso again and the same food from yesterday. He smiled. He went back to make the espresso. We made eye contact a few times, when he was behind the counter. I wasn’t flirting. Okay maybe a little. I tried to be discreet.  I love Drew, but Paris has a hold on me. I blame Paris.
When he brought our espresso, he brought us croissants. I sipped my espresso and nibbled my croissants. They will never be the same to me again. It was so quick, when our breakfast arrived. The waiter brought us our breakfast and gave me a quick smile and rolled his eyes. He knew it was too fast and we weren’t even done with our croissants yet. I smiled.
Throughout breakfast, the waiter and I made eye contact a few times and I smiled. When it was time to cash out, he was getting super busy, but still making eye contact with me here and there. We paid our bill, and he asked us how long we are going to be in Paris for? I said, “we leave today. I don’t want to go home.” He looked at me and smiled. I hesitated saying we were going to England, because there is a riff there with the French and English still, and it has been so many years since Winston Churchill blew up their ships.
Eventually we stood up, at this point the waiter was serving a table behind us. He was behind me when I stood up. I had my back to Drew. The waiter was facing me. We shared a moment. He looked in my eyes and said, “bonne journee.” I smiled and said, “Merci beau coup.” I took a breath and said, “Au revoir.” He smiled and said, “Au revoir.” I turned to walk away. We walked towards the Stress Relief Cafe, to go back to our Airbnb. I don’t know what came over me, but I blame it on Paris. I take a deep breath and look back. I don’t know why I looked back. Paris, it was Paris. There was the waiter. He made eye contact with me. I can still see his face in my head. I smiled and then slowly turned my head. I don’t know if he continued to watch me walk away, or if he just went back inside. I will never know. I don’t even know his name, but we connected. I know I am married. I would never hurt Drew, but part of me kind of wonders, if Drew knew I was having a moment, and it was Paris, and I would probably never see that guy again. No, that is not like Drew. I think Drew didn’t know, and didn’t realize…
When we got back to the Airbnb, we packed our things and I hung out in the living room and watched TV. We had a little time to kill before we left for the train station. I turned on the television and my limited French was a success. I found Versailles Season 3, but it was in French. How sweet, how authentic! I was in love.
While we were watching television, one of Eric’s friends came into clean up. We thought it was Eric. He told us his name (I forget now.). He said, “Eric is in the states for the summer.” I said, “oh okay.” We were on edge wondering if he would ever stop in, or not. The friend of Eric’s ran the dishwasher, and his English was okay, but not that great. He asked Drew to slow down, when he spoke. I did most of the talking, and tried my best to communicate with him in French and in English. He only stayed for a little, and then left. He was going to come back, when we were gone. I guess someone else was coming to stay the night and be in Paris. I am jealous of them and I don’t even know them.
When it came to leave, I opened the terrace doors one more time to say goodbye to Paris and take in the air and the sounds.

 
One thing about me that is a blessing and curse, is that I am very sentimental and full of emotion and feeling. I feel things differently then others, and I really try to savor everything and all the moments in life. I really try to squeeze as much nectar as I can. Paris, you will be so missed. This was so magical. I have no words.
Once on the Eurostar back to England, Drew snapped a picture of me looking less than thrilled. 
They served us cold quiche on the Eurostar for lunch. Ugh,this was not France.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we left for Europe, I bought a book at Barnes and Noble, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. This is a memoir about Hemingway’s time in Paris. I cracked open the book on the Eurostar and began to read. I really haven’t had a chance to read it. I turned the page and it was the second paragraph on page 18, “I’ve seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought you belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil” (Hemingway 18).  I instantly thought of the waiter. Like Hemingway, who belongs to his pencil and pen. I belong to this marriage and to Drew, but we will always have Paris…
Once we made it to St. Pancras, we got a taxi and he drove us to our hotel in West Minister. It was so hot outside in England. On the cab ride, I took some pictures of Trafalgar square. The cab driver told us some things about the area and about this statue in particular, he asked, “Do you see the guy on the horse?” We both said, “Yea.” He said, “Well if you look really closely, you see the tail right?” We both said, “Yes.” He said, well right above his tail, you can see his the horse’s ass.” We all started laughing. I was waiting for something so profound. We were not in Paris anymore.

Our hotel is the Park Plaza, Westminster:

Oh, and they had our room ready for us, when we checked in. It was a gorgeous suite. Andrew immediately laid on the bed and it was so firm. We are going to sleep so good tonight.

Image result for park plaza westminster bridge london

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the inside, once you take the elevator up:
What a view! Once, we got inside our room, we changed and got ready to go explore Westminster. We had a reservation for the London Eye at 7:00pm, so we didn’t want to be too long exploring. We wanted to get showered and cleaned up before the London Eye.
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we did some picture taking, we went back to the hotel got showered, and got ready to go to the London Eye. We ate dinner at the bar of the hotel.  Before we left for the London Eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the bubble chandelier of the Champagne Lounge.

 I found a good window with some good natural light to get a couple selfies. I had a little photo session.   

When it was time to get on the London Eye, Samantha our tour guide called us to line up and she was going to walk us passed the general admission line, and then we would get into a pod, on the London Eye. We would all be in the same pod, and we will have another glass of champagne, once we are up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we arrived onto the platform, the wheel just keeps moving, there is no stopping it, so you can get on, you almost have to jump to hop on. Once you are inside the pod, it is shaped kind of like a pill. Our tour guide set up the champagne and once you are so many feet in the air, she starts to pour the champagne and hand it out. It started to rain outside, while we in the pod, the view of the sky was so beautiful, even though it was dark and cloudy. Seeing the rain, hit the pod was like seeing hail it the pod. The rain drops were so huge.

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Thankfully, the rain held off for a few minutes, for us to make it off the pod in time, we were half way to our hotel, and it started to rain again. We both didn’t have umbrella.
Also, one more thing to note about our London Eye experience is that, we were in pod number 4. This was the same pod, that the Queen was in, when she visited the London Eye, shortly after it was built in the year 2000 to honor the Millennium. pod 4.jpg

 

 

 

Bath, England

This morning we got up early at 6:00am. We both felt so well rested having finally slept in a bed. A firm bed to be exact. We got showered, dressed, got ready, and went to the hotel breakfast. When we were seated, they asked if we wanted coffee. They poured our coffee for us, then we could get up and go to the breakfast buffet. Contrary to popular belief, I am a simple gal when it comes to breakfast. I am not much of a breakfast person either. I did see they had croissants and I love croissants. I put one on my plate, then I went to the hot foods area. I noticed they had scrambled eggs, but it was the runny sunny side up scrambled eggs, and the bacon was whole bacon, and probably delicious, but I like simple thin bacon not used to seeing bacon like that, baked beans; I only eat those at cook out if that, black pudding; some kind of food that was shaped in black circles with pork in it I passed on that, but I did see someone making an omelette. Omelette? yes please! I asked for an all vegetable omelette the guy said, give him “5 mins.” Okay, so I made my way over to the table with my croissant. I nibbled on my croissant and waited until Drew came back with his plate, which was full, before going to check on my omelette.

When I approached the omelette station, he handed me my plate. The omelette looked so good. I sat down at the table across from Drew and we ate breakfast, and planned our day. I had so much I wanted to in Bath and I was so well rested! I couldn’t wait to see Bath!
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When we finished breakfast, we went up to the room and got ready to leave. We grabbed our book bags, then went downstairs, out of the hotel, and into the madness that is the metro station. We approached the information desk, and waited to see what platform the train for Bath was departing on. This was where everyone else was standing around.  (I forgot to add, after we got showered last night we went down to the station and bought our tickets for the train to Bath.)

When they finally announced the platform, everyone ran to their assigned platforms to board the train. It was a mad dash to the platforms. I almost got lost in the crowd, but being short I was able to navigate my way successfully. Drew is so tall and I can pick him out of a crowd anywhere. I always have been able to. 🙂
When we boarded the train, it was an hour and 26 minutes, until we arrived in Bath.
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We had no clue where to go, once we got off the train, but we saw this sign so we knew we were in the right area. Bath is the cute historic town. Everything looks like it is from another time, so well preserved. bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is me walking, quaint shops, narrow streets, no pavement, but cement blocks. It is so cute and peaceful, very relaxing. Our first stop was the roman baths. I didn’t care too much for the history. It is a bit too far back for me to imagine, but Drew really enjoyed it. They had statues of Julius Caesar and various baths that were in this Spa and what they were used for. There is still a working Spa where you can go for wellness and massages, but we didn’t have the time or money for all that.

 

We did get to put our hands in some really old water, that roman’s used to bathe in.

After we did this, we saw the sign that says, “Do not touch the water, drink it, or bathe in it. k the water, or bathe in it.” hehe oops!

 

We did get to drink actual Thermal water, just like Kiera Knightly did in the movie the Duchess, but I didn’t get to wear a pretty dress, while drinking it. The water tastes like mineral water. It is warm, and has a sulfur taste to it. It isn’t too bad. I had a couple cups of it.

After the spa, we had tea in the Pump Room:

 

 

The best way to describe this experience is like having a tea party with the love of your life. I have always had tea parties as a little girl, but having one like this with the love your life, in this gorgeous Georgian style room was a dream come true.
We had a tray full of goodies, scones, sandwiches, macrons, etc. We could not finish it all, but we were so relaxed.

After Tea in the Pump Room, we went to go explore more of Bath. I stumbled upon Jane Austen, in her novels, Persuasion and North hanger Abbey both take place in Bath.

“Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath”-Jane Austen
I am not really a huge Jane Austen fan, but it as great to stumble upon her and take a picture with her. I do like the time period of her novels, and the characters, but something about the style of her writing, but I don’t have beef with her. We did not have time to go into the Jane Austen center.

We had tickets to see the Fashion Museum, which was going to be held in the Bath Assembly Rooms. I was so excited. The Bath Assembly rooms was one of the locations where they filmed my absolute favorite movie, “The Duchess.”
Image result for the duchess
When we walked into the Bath Assembly rooms, we told them we were here for the fashion museum, we showed the receptionist our tickets, and she told us that the museum is downstairs, and she told us what room to go, but we were free to look around. They were having an event going on in the Tea Room. We couldn’t enter, it as the Bath Festival so there was a group of speakers there, but the Tea room is where they filmed this scene in the movie, where the Duchess Duchess is presented to the admiring crowd and is titled, “the empress of fashion.” I was a little bummed, that I couldn’t see this room.

Straight ahead was the Great Octagon room this the room where in the movie The Duchess,” Georgiana is confronted by the Duke in Bath. He gives her an ultimatum give Grey up. If she does not return to London with him, then her dreams of changed world and Grey’s dreams of becoming Prime minister will be “dead as ash” and she will never see her Children again. We were able to step inside the Great Octagon room. Although there was a book fair going on, I was still able to see the room where they filmed the scene.

 

 

 

 

 

After the Great Octagon room, we went downstairs to the Fashion Museum. The exhibit was titled 100 Years of Fashion. had on display, all sorts of dresses, and outfits from the different time periods leading up to modern day fashion. It was so cool to see. We even got to try on period costumes.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we finished at the Fashion Museum, we had one more stop to make. I couldn’t wait to get there, #1 Royal Crescent:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The royal crescent is another location where they filmed a scene from the movie The Duchess: Image result for the duchess royal crescent

 

We also went inside #1 Royal Crescent: “Henry Sandford was the first resident of No. 1 Royal Crescent. He lived at the house from 1776 until his death in Bath in 1796. Recent research has greatly improved our understanding of who Henry Sandford was and how he might have lived in No.1  Royal Crescent and the interpretation of the museum has used these details to bring the house to life.”-http://no1royalcrescent.org.uk/history/

There were so many gorgeous rooms in this house, and they all reflected the time period, but this room in particular gave me a certain feeling.

This is the lady’s parlor. Where the women would retire and have tea, and play the harpsichord. I snuck a picture of the harpsicord. The woman said it is on loan and there for we cannot take pictures.
However, in this room, there is a painting on the wall above the fire place. The woman looked so familiar. I thought it might be the Duchess of Devonshire. I inquired about the painting. The guide said, “It was an unknown woman of the time.” I didn’t believe her and the look of disbelief was written all over my face. The guide asked me, “Who I thought it might be?” I said, “It looks like the Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spenser Cavendish.” She said, “That is really observant of you, but it is not her. She typically wore those big hats, and feathers.” I smiled, but she didn’t always have them on. Then, I thought how sad to be marked as an unknown woman of the time. I looked at her and she looked back at me, it felt as though she and I connected it is weird, I know. The guide handed me the binder, that explains all the artifacts in the room, the paintings, and the origin. She let me flip through it. I read the blurb about the painting, “an unknown woman.” I read it and felt so sad and so haunted.

After we left the Royal Crescent, we made a stop at a pub for a drink. 
Then we checked out Bath Abbey, before heading on the train back to the madness that is Paddington, London.

Once we got back to the hotel, we showered and got ready to go dinner. We wanted to go to the most traditional English Pub we could find. We went to The Pride of Paddington, where I had my first English beer titled, “The Proper Job” and fish and chips!
That night, I went to bed so thankful. That night  was our last night in Paddington. Let me say, if you are thinking of traveling to England. Do yourself a favor do not stay in Paddington, unless you don’t mind the crazy amount of people. If you are low key and border line between bougie and hipster like I am, then stay away from Paddington. Stay in Westminster, which I will tell you about later! 🙂 The next day, we traveled to Paris. 🙂

Landed in Heathrow, England

Once we landed in Heathrow we got off the plane, had to go through border security. One the plane, we filled out our landing sheets. The flight attendant said, we could use one, since we had the same last name. No need to fill out two landing sheets. Okay, then the border patrol said, “Who told you that? You need to fill out one for yourself too.” I said, “We have the same last name.” He said, “It doesn’t matter.” I was so frustrated, but I took the time to fill it out. I didn’t want to get nasty with the border police. I was holding back my emotions, and said to myself, “Girl you are in England.”
After we passed the border police and got the stamp of approval on our passports we got our baggage at the baggage claim and then made our way to the Heathrow express.

“Mind the Gap” is written everywhere in England. They always say, “Mind the Gap.” Drew and I said to each other all the time over there. It as funny. We took the Heathrow express to Paddington, London where our hotel was. We were hoping our hotel would be ready for check in. It was around 10am when we arrived at our hotel.

As soon as we got off the heathrow express, and dragged our luggage off the train, we were at this super busy metro station. People coming and going. Everyone had agendas, and plans for the day business men, business women, tourists who have been here a few times, older people, college age people all coming and going. We walked over to the information desk. We told them were are staying at the Hilton, and asked how do we get there from here? They said, there is a lift (elevator) that will take you to the second floor of the metro station. Make a left and you will see Starbucks on your right and straight ahead of you is the entrance to your hotel. So we found the lift, and pushed the button to go to the second floor. We got off of the elevator, dragged our suitcases past the Starbucks, and into the entrance of the hotel. We made our way to the reservation desk. The lobby had an art-deco design to it. It kind of reminded me of the Great Gatsby.

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The front of the hotel is so beautiful. It supposedly was a Victorian castle that they transformed into a hotel.

At the front desk, we gave them our name and told them that we had a reservation for two nights. They pulled up our reservation, and said that our room isn’t ready yet, and asked us to come back in a couple hours, and hopefully it will be ready then.

However, we are able to leave our luggage with the concierge and he will take it up to our room, when it is ready. I sighed. All I wanted to do was brush my teeth, shower, and get ready to head to Chelsea. We had plans to tour the stadium, museum, and eat lunch close by. I did not want to go like this.  I was beginning to think I had no choice. We handed our luggage over to the concierge and then he told us how we are going to need an Oyster card, while we are here. I said, “a what?” He said, “An Oyster card.” He said, “Come with me, I will show you.” We walked across the street with him and then to the metro station. Then I realized, an Oyster card is like our Pitt ID back home, except this is for the metro. I said, “oh okay.” He said, “here I will help you.” He showed us how to work the machine. We both got cards and loaded 30 pounds on our oyster cards. We didn’t rent car, so it was either walk, metro, train, or hop on and off bus. I guess these would come in and handy.

We went back to the hotel, and still the room wasn’t ready yet, so we stopped for at a coffee shop called Acosta. I looked at the menu and I ordered a small Americano, which is espresso and water. Drew ordered the same. It was the closest to a red eye (Coffee with espresso). We sat down and drank our coffee. We both were so tired, but knew that we were going to have to leave for Chelsea soon, even if our room wasn’t ready yet. When we got back to the hotel, still no room available so we got on the metro and made our way to Chelsea.