Touring London in 2 days!

Me and my sweets in front of the London Eye

Me and my sweets in front of the London Eye

Believe it or not, it can be done!  I’d encourage my fellow travelers to allow an extra day or two if time allows, but if not, put on your running shoes 🙂   For me, traveling to Europe has to include multiple stops.  In planning an Ireland vacation, we decided to add an extra 2 days to stop off in London. I think we had a total of 40 hours or so in London … it was a whirlwind, but we hit a lot of the major destinations and had a blast!

Evening 1:

After landing in the afternoon, checking in and freshening up – we hit the town!  My partner had friends in London – so we met somewhere near the Westminster Tube, strolled around and grabbed a bite, and got to see River Thames, Big Ben & the House of Parliament (Palace of Westminster) and the London Eye as evening set in.  We strolled around and stumbled upon the Sherlock Holmes Pub which was exactly what I pictured a London pub to be like – young drunks stumbling out, the interior smelling of sweet old beer, and a charming exterior!

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Silhouette of Big Ben & House of Parliament

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London Eye, Big Ben & River Thames

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Sherlock Holmes Pub

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Big Ben

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Day 2:

I too have a friend in England – about an hour and a half outside of London, whom I haven’t seen in 15 years.  When I told him I would be in London for 2 days, he insisted on spending some time with us.  I figured we would hang out for a few hours … but his agenda was a bit different.  We met around 8:30am and didn’t stop touring until 7:30ish… I was exhausted, but glad we got to see so many hotspots!

We started the day with the 8:00am Holy Communion Service at Westminster Abbey. It was really neat to sit in this amazing historical site and participate in such a special ceremony.  It was a quick service – and this is a free opportunity to get into the Abbey!

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The beautiful Westminster Abbey

After the service we strolled to Whitehall to watch the Horse Guards Parade, and then to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guards.  Though both spots were packed with tourists – it was really neat to experience this tradition.  And yes, we took the obligatory photo with the guard.  Poor guy…

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Horse Guards Ceremony

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Changing of the Guards

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We then hit Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.  We just peeked in so I could see an original Van Gogh – but I wish we would have spent more time there.  We grabbed a quick bite (fish & chips of course…) and were on our way.

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Trafalgar Square

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National Gallery

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Next we went to the Tate Modern museum – but just the inside’s outside…. We had to walk through the museum to get to this amazing outdoor space – with people picnicking, kids playing in the water and people sunbathing. (I’m going off memory but I think this is behind the Tate Modern…)

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Next we strolled along the River Thames, attempted to get a beverage at an overly packed bar – failed.  Enjoyed some seasoned street nuts… whatever they were, they’re delicious, and ended up at Tower Bridge.  Crossed over and saw the Tower of London (not much of a tower…), St. Paul’s Cathedral, and wrapped up our last evening with a delicious meal of Guinness stew and sausage with colcannon.  We walked over 7 miles and were completely exhausted!

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Tower Bridge

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Me and Boo – beyond exhausted at this point!

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The “Tower” of London (and my handsome beau)

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral

The last London Supper

The last London Supper

Final Day: 

For our final day we didn’t have to head out until noonish – so we decided to head back to Trafalgar Square, and to our joy, stumbled upon Covent Gardens.  You must go here!  We strolled through the little shops, and ended up getting some coffee & pastries and just hanging out.  Loved this spot!

Darling pastry shop in/near Covent Gardens

Darling pastry shop in/near Covent Gardens

It was a whirlwind but we had an incredible time in London!

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Crater Laker & Bend, Oregon

I’ve always imagined I would end up in a small, mountain type town, with beautiful lakes and snow capped mountains, great restaurants with outdoor seating, and residents really making it feel like a community.  Though I have dreamed of this place, I have never actually been to said destination.  Then, I went to Bend.

On the cruise up we decided to swing by Crater Lake.  WOW!  This place is gorgeous! It almost looks fake – this volcano inside a volcano!  A must see if cruising through southern Oregon.  I would also recommend staying at the Green Springs Inn & Cabins outside of Ashland.  It was in the middle of the… forest?… and we loved it!  The rooms were amazing – and the restaurant was great!  The gift shop even had a box for PCT hikers like I read about in Wild!

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Ah yes, Bend.  Bend is… well, it’s perfect.  It’s technically high desert, but Mt. Bachelor sits just a stones throw away, snow capped even in mid summer.  The downtown is absolutely delightful, with the Deschutes Rivers meandering through – full of folks floatin’. You can stroll the darling shops, great restaurants, craft breweries and chat with all the NICE people!  We actually saw a sticker saying “Be nice, you’re in Bend“.  Ha!

We had the privilege to spend the 4th of the July weekend there – and boy oh boy do they do it big!  The parade was massive, and after the parade everyone heads down to the park by the river for a huge festival.  Tons of booths, drinks, food, games – you name it.

Accommodations:
We rented the cutest studio!  Just 2 blocks from downtown and perfect!IMG_8409 IMG_8410IMG_8412 IMG_8411

Exploration of the Cascade Lakes:

Devil’s Lake – The most clear, turquoise lake I have ever seen!  And freeeeezing!

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Loved this shot I got of some paddlers!

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Todd Lake – super peaceful and secluded with beautiful views from the parking lot!

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Mt. Bachelor in the background

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Elk Lake – not a great shot – but a perfect spot to rent a kayak or lounge on the beach.

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4th of July Madness!  This is where you want to celebrate ‘merica!

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Yes, that’s a dog up there 😦

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Pano of the post parade festivities!

Craft Breweries! 

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Side trip up to Sisters
must do!  

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The town of Sisters is absolutely darling – and not far from Bend. You MUST eat at Cottonwood Cafe!

First Fridays! SO happy we stumbled upon this!  I would actually encourage you to plan your trip to Bend during a First Friday.  All of the shops offer free beer/wine/cocktails and snacks and the whole town comes out!  There’s live music on just about every corner, and it really solidifies the sense of community.

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Beautiful Bend

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We had an incredible time, and can’t wait to return!  (I might be actively seeking career opportunities…)

Until next time… I’ll be dreaming of Bend.

God is good friends.  God is good.

Ireland

Sheep’s Head Peninsula
Oh Ireland, you are so, so lovely.  I had been dreaming about you for the last few years – and literally couldn’t wait to meet you.  The first night, minus getting oh so incredibly lost, was pretty nice.  I was treated to an extremely fancy dinner – a rarity for me, and got to experience my first 5 star hotel.  The next morning we had plans of sipping delicious Guinness while touring the Storehouse – which was “right down the road you can’t miss it”…but gave that thought up after driving around in circles for over an hour.  The next few days included visiting quant villages along the southwestern route, eating delicious food, drinking a handful of beers, and enjoying the lovely man that accompanied me.  I got to see beautiful countryside, ancient castles and ruins, gorgeous farmhouses, dazzling coastlines and all the sheep in the entire world.   Oh the sheep.  I suppose I should have figured since I can’t wear wool – I might have mild allergy.  I, however, hadn’t anticipated the full-blown, 100+ sneezes a day, snotty, eye scratching, head pounding sheep allergy I apparently have.  Sheep.  Who knew?  Even though this allergy attack was pretty exasperating, it was really nice to just be in Ireland.  My fondest memories are nothing extravagant: merely strolling the towns, listening to the guy on the street sing “The Port of Amsterdam” and indulging in each mornings breakfast and delicious Irish tea.  Standing on the edge of the Sheep’s Head peninsula, looking out into the vast, clear blue ocean was pretty neat.  We wrapped up our journey at The Cliffs of Moher…this is the type of spot that mentally forces you to regain perspective, realize life is but mist, and give God glory for His absolutely breathtaking creation. 
From left to right:  Muckross House, Cliffs of Moher, Kilkenny Castle, Me & Guinness, Sheep, Coast on the Slea Head Drive, Lamb Stew, from a Market in Bantry, Killarney National Forest

Thought I’d throw in a few traveling tips:

  • If you’re going to travel with someone – make it someone you can tolerate for hours on end.   For those who don’t live with their travel partner – this can be a whole new experience – and can be delightful, or dreadful.  I was very fortunate to have wonderful, wonderful company.
  • American curling irons do NOT convert, even with the nicest converters.  Trust me.
  • Don’t be so frantic about not bringing a lot.  On my first Europe trip I was really frugal with my packing – and honestly, really didn’t like how I looked in any of the pictures. This time, I gave myself a little slack, and brought some fun attire – and am very glad I did.
  • Take a moment, or five, to just be.  Take a deep breath, make a big smile, and enjoy your every moment.  Enjoy!