Leaving Paris was a blast as we took the Eurostar. I thought the train from Rome to Venice was fast but this was just off the charts. My ears popped and the way the train swayed when we went around any kind of bend was actually kind of worrying. To travel at those kinds of speeds was an amazing experience but I cannot say I was all that relaxed!
Arriving at Kings Cross-St Pancras was glorious. We were so excited as is evident by this iPhone picture!
We had a wonderful cab driver who dropped us straight on Park Lane with some nice shortcuts through Mayfair.
Driving though the streets of London at that time was quite emotional for me. I had not been back to London in so long and all the memories came flooding back. I was so fortunate to be able to live and work there and all of a sudden I was overcome with regret for not staying longer and not enjoying my time there as much. Saying that, it was in 1999 – the world was different and I was much younger!
Now here was the fun part. Our loyalty to Marriott hotels has paid off as we were able to stay in the Marriott Grosvenor Square for ZILCH. Yup – our whole 5 nights in London was free. I can wholeheartedly say that one of the best choices I made when I moved to America and was decided what brands I would be loyal to, the Marriott Rewards program has to be one of the best out there. We love it!
Check out our room –
Our view –
The hotel was gorgeous and the staff were lovely and bonus – we were able to check in early! Also, because of our Gold status, we had access to the executive lounge which meant a gorgeous selection of hot and cold foods for breakfast and drinks and snack through the day. We were starving when we got there so we ordered room service for lunch to see what it was like. Oh my gosh –
We got unpacked, relaxed and decided to head out onto Oxford St (a short walk from the hotel) to get our bearings and to start our sightseeing. Right around the corner was the US Consulate. In their garden is a gorgeous statue of Ronald Reagan –
I also couldn’t believe how much the Consulate looks like the Department of Premier & Cabinet Building in Melbourne!
Here is Oxford St –
We then headed straight for the Tower of London. We wanted to spend our time visiting there there so that we could go and grab some dinner before heading back there again later at night to see the Ceremony of the Keys. As we are members of Historic Royal Palaces we didn’t have to line up and could come and go as we pleased. This is how the Tower looks as you exit the Underground –
The crowds weren’t bad at all although and the Crown Jewels display was empty because of the opening of Parliament the following day. We relaxed in the gardens of the Tower and then admired Tower Bridge for a little while… ahhh I love holidays!
We love being TOURISTS!
We then jumped back on the bus to head back to Piccadilly Circus for some late afternoon shopping and some dinner. Does this feel like the longest day ever or what?!
From the top deck –
Of course, the first place I went was Boots.
I felt like I’d jumped from the land of Duane Reade straight into the land of Boots and I did a stock up of my favourite ‘skin fix it’ product – Witch Doctor Gel! I cannot be without it and it is been this way since I lived in London. Since they stopped selling it in Australia in 2007, it is now only sold in the UK. So for years now I’ve resorted to buying it from eBay in bulk for not only me, but mum and dad too. We then had a look through some of the touristy shops and went off to find some dinner.
Then, down a little street, we found Wagamama. We didn’t want anything huge for dinner so this was perfect. I remember first going to Wagamama when they opened in Melbourne and was so excited about it! After all of our Italian and French food, sitting down to a huge Asian soup was awesome. It was just what we needed!
By the time we finished at Wagamama it was time to head back to the Tower of London for the Ceremony of the Keys. It was VERY eerie at night –
The ceremony that we got to experience was AWESOME. We couldn’t take photos or film it, but this ceremony of locking the Tower has gone on every night for 700 years. It was dark and spooky as we heard the Beefeaters walk and lock each gate, their keys rattling loudly and then, their march up through the tower grounds. We got to follow them while they did it and there was absolute silence. The air was cool and it was so eerie – it was a really good experience and after about half an hour it was all over and we were escorted out of the tower. We both really enjoyed it and I am glad I organized it, even though it involved mailing international reply coupons and too many fingers crossed that there would be a spot for us!
We capped off the night by hanging out at Westminster way past our bedtime just admiring Big Ben and thinking “We REALLY are here!”