I flew out of Atlanta on a Saturday night at 11pm with Lauren, one of my co-workers in Atlanta, and we got into London at noon (London time) the next day, where we met up with a guy from our New York office. I really don't have too much of a hard time with jetlag and thankfully I got a solid 7 hours of sleep on the red-eye due to Tylenol PM and a free drink on the plane. I was hoping to have some time to explore the city a little on Sunday afternoon, but from the time we landed it took us almost 3 hours to get through the airport and take the train to our hotel.
We stayed in the financial district of London at the Threadneedles Hotel close to our office in the city. Sadly, there were no Marriotts nearby, so no hotel points this time. (I do miss my Marriotts. Threadneedles was a pretty nice five-star boutique hotel that I would probably never pay to stay in myself, so for that I was very grateful, but next time I'm staying in a Marriott now that I know my way around on the tube.) Even more sadly, almost everything in that area shuts down on Sundays so we didn't have many options for food - just grabbed a quick lunch, relaxed at the hotel, and then a quick dinner before passing out for the night. The streets were empty and there wasn't a soul in sight. Very different from the next morning.
After a really good night of sleep (about 10 hours, woohoo!) I was well adjusted and ready to go Monday morning, which was a very good thing because I was in meetings all day Monday and Tuesday. The office was about a mile from our hotel, so we walked to and from the office every day. The streets were crammed full of people - you had to pay attention or you would get run over. There wasn't a ton of street traffic - it was mainly a lot of buses, but the scariest of all were the bikers. They zoom by so fast, and you better hope you aren't in their way, because they don't bother obeying any traffic rules. One thing I very much enjoyed - at every crosswalk, the road is painted to tell you which way to look (and sometimes, for the directionally challenged, it would have an arrow pointing which way is left or right). So much for looking both ways before you cross the street!
Monday night we took it easy after work since it had been a long day and Tuesday was shaping up to be the same. Lauren and I went for a 30 minute run that took us over London Bridge, which was really cool. I used the MapMyRun app on my phone - it's just as good as the website, but I liked it better because I didn't have to remember the route, it just tracked me as I went, told me how many miles I had gone, how long it had taken me, what my pace was, and it also showed a map so that I knew how to get back where I started. Here are a few pictures from our route:
|View of Tower Bridge, from London Bridge|
|View of the city on our way back over London Bridge|
|Tower Bridge again (often confused for London Bridge)|
For dinner that night we went to Haz, an awesome Turkish restaurant. Lauren and Peter had been there on previous trips, so I figured it had to be pretty good. It was my first time at a Turkish restaurant, and this one set the standard pretty high. I had lamb skewers (amazing), hummus (best ever), and a cabernet wine from Lebanon that went really well with everything.
Tuesday night we did a "typical" English night with the Director from our London office. He took us to an English pub, straight after work with the regulars. We had quite a few pints - all (very warm but tasty) English beers. I tried the London Pride and Tribute - both were better than I was expecting. But I do prefer my beer "extra cold" as they call it. We also ate dinner there, I got the bangers and mash, loved it!
We all wanted to see a show Wednesday night, so for lunch that day we took the tube to Leicester Square. Our director was an excellent host - he took us to the half price ticket booth to get our tickets. We ended up paying just 40 pounds (~$60) for 9th row, center stage seats to see Billy Elliott. We were really excited for the show that evening! We had lunch in Chinatown which was just a few blocks away from the square and went to a pretty good Dim Sum restaurant. The options for Asian food in this city were incredible.
|Dim Sum for lunch|
That evening we headed to Victoria Station and the show was phenomenal! It ended up almost selling out, which was surprising to us for a week night and the awesome seats we scored at lunchtime on the day of the show. But now I understand why - this show really was fantastic. I was so impressed with the dancing, especially since the stars were young kids. It was also a great show to see it in England since it takes place there.
|Victoria Palace Theatre|
Before the show, I had to get some snacks (obviously). I stopped into Pret across the street, and found these delicious cookies. I got this one specifically for Kim and Tara ;)
Thursday night was pretty low key again. Lauren and I went on another 30 minute run through the city (no pictures that time since it was mostly office buildings). She and I grabbed a few pints at the pub below our hotel and dinner across the street. After a wonderful meal of duck and sauteed veggies and some hot sake, I was ready for bed. Happy, tired, and full. :) The busy week had finally caught up with us and we wanted to be well rested for the weekend.
The actual work part of the week went really well and I'm hoping to get a few more projects over here so I can go back again. We had a big wrap-up meeting Friday morning, and we decided to take a half day since the week had gone so well and we were very productive, and mainly because I was in charge! :) I wanted to get an early start to the weekend. This lovely lady was planning to join me....
...but unfortunately Amy had to cancel last minute due to work. I was/am super bummed but of course I totally understand. I just got to see her last month, and I think I can hold out until Christmas break to see her back in Florida. Plus, I'm hoping to see her again soon on my next trip to London - except next time I'm going to try and continue on to Dubai ;)
I of course missed having Amy to explore with me, but I had a really great time roaming around the city by myself. Peter flew back to New York Friday morning, and Lauren already had plans to visit family in Plymouth for the weekend (about a 3 hour train ride from London). I considered joining her, but I really wanted to see everything in London. I had actually never traveled by myself before and it was a good experience - though I much prefer to travel with other people... especially Bo. We travel really well together and there were plenty of things I would have liked to have done with him instead of by myself. But, since he's already been to London a few times I was able to do a lot of things that he doesn't care to do again, so he won't have to waste his time doing them whenever we go back together. I'll post about all my weekend adventures in London once I go through all my pictures - it was an absolute blast!