Tuesday, July 1, 2008


We made it to London! It's been a pretty interesting past couple of days, too!

Sunday night we went over to the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs Elysses. We just planned on going over and taking pictures but we found out you can climb stairs inside the pillar legs and visit the very top. The French sure do love their stairs. Stairs up the Eiffel. Stairs all over the Metro. Stairs in the churches. And stairs to the top of the Arc.
The stairs are SO worth the view, though. If you're looking for a view that includes the Eiffel, this is the place to get it!
Then, we wandered down the Champs Elysses. Lots of cool stores and places to eat, but they were all packed, so we decided to be really cultural and check out the McDonalds right there on the strip. Haha, it actually really hit the spot!
We headed home to get a good nights sleep before "Chunnel Day". We decided to get up early to check out and head straight to watch church services at Notre Dame.

Our train tickets weren't until 4:30pm so after the noon mass we walked the bridge across the Seine to Ile St. Louis (very, very cute) to grab an ice cream cone and take more "far away" pics of Notre Dame.

Then, we ran back to the hotel to grab our luggage to catch our first train to Lille, France.
It was an hour train ride to Lille. The high speed trains are very comfy - Joe and I decided we need these in the States!
We hoped we'd be able to check out Lille during our 3 hour layover until our train to England. We decided to try to rent a locker at the Lille train station so we asked a guy (Anthony) at the train info booth where one could be rented. He said the station didn't have lockers. So Joe and I decided to get into the line to check in for our train and wait with our luggage in the station. We were in line when Anthony ran up to us and said "my colleague said you can transfer your tickets to the train that's just about to leave for London." We were super excited! We rushed through the line to French Customs. The Customs folks said our tickets couldn't be used for the earlier train. We drug our luggage back through the line and tracked Anthony down. He walked with us to the Customs official and they let us though (whew!) Then, we got stopped by an angry Eurostar employee who said we "may or may not" have seats on the train. We were not to be thwarted so we ran down the entire length of the train along the platform. I ran on the train and began surveying the seats to find two possible vacancies. Meanwhile, Joe was standing at the train door, still on the platform with all of our luggage. No seats available. The train was seconds from leaving so Joe quickly swooped all the luggage onto the train car, jumped into the train car and the doors slammed shut and we were off! Still no seats. So, we shoved our luggage along the back wall of the car and put ourselves on fold down seats in the luggage room. We rode through the English Channel as stow-aways, laughing the entire time and terrified we'd be caught and kicked off!

At last, we made it to London yesterday about 7:30pm local time and grabbed a taxi to our hotel, The Darlington. We booked an awesome suite...
the hallway connecting the rooms...

We put our luggage in the room and went out immediately for fish and chips. Yum!!

This morning we went to check out the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. So, so cool. I don't understand why our guidebook printed that it wasn't worth the visit.

Afterwards we toured Westminster Abbey. Very cool too but no pictures allowed.
And of course, we stood for a photo op with Big Ben.



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