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Sunday, January 8, 2012

We have arrived in London

This is my 13 year old daughter's  account of the plane ride and first night we got there.

We decided on a direct flight to London. It left at 11:05pm. We imagined the children being able to sleep on the way to London.
Yes, we had a good imagination because I don't remember any of them sleeping. 
I remember the plane ride being fun and torturous at the same time. My husband remembers it as fun, because my 3 year old was clinging to me most of the time and wining in my ear. I would look over at him and just find him snoring with a satisfied smile on his face. My older children did pretty well. My 10 year old daughter had a fear of flying and was nervous in the airport as she watched the planes taxi in. She clung to me with my three year old as we wandered onto the plane. I kept reassuring her and telling her it would be ok. She remained distressed from the moment of getting on the plane, and finally settled and was calm by about an hour into the flight. I remember her staring at me with worried eyes. It was hard for me because I was just as nervous of flying. I  tried to remain strong and kept trying to think happy thoughts.

Throughout the flight the children would fight over who went over into their space, or I would hear a complaint of someone not playing the card game right,or some other squabble about something. It was these moments in my head of being excited to go to Europe, that kept me from stuffing my head in a pillow and screaming. My three year old quickly was bored with sitting after an hour. The flight attendants on this particular flight were not child friendly. (Which in future flights, I found a better airline that was very child friendly) I would get up and try taking my 3 year old for a walk and the attendants would just ask me or gently insisted for me to"please go back to your seat maam."

Seriously.....I thought, the people sitting near us would be happier if my child wasn't climbing all over them behind the seat or screaming in their ear. When I took her for a walk it calmed her down and had helped with changing her scenery. The older kids watched every movie and played every game that was on the in flight screens on the back of the seats. We took turns changing seats. Which later on this seemed to be another valuable tip that I have talked about in a past blog. "How to keep your child entertained on a plane". My 13 year old daughter as you can see by the journal entry saw the flight as "A whole house of Kaos". I think this pretty much sums it up for the plane flight. After that flight I began to devise a plan of action for all future flights. 

We arrived with the light shining bright in our eyes and fog looming in the air. It was 10am in the morning for us, early evening London time probably around 6pm by the time we jumped on the London underground from the airport. The second we sat down in the seats. My son was out. My kids all have one thing in common. When they finally sit still they tend to fall asleep. 

The scenery sped by and we couldn't really get a good look at 
all the boroughs or sections of London.

We sped past stop after stop until finally it was our stop. 
Earl's court (not pictured here) I was too busy getting kids and their stuff together to take a photo.

As we got off the stop the realization that I was actually in another country hit me. I was giddy. I tried to wake my son up. My girls practically ran off "the Tube". (The London Underground) >A bit of info: The London Underground is the oldest underground railway in the world. The first section opened in 1863.

After finding our way out of the tunnels and cement walls we opened our eyes to see our first glimpse of London. The climate actually reminded me of Seattle and as I walked down the street with my kids, I felt surprisingly safe. Luckily our hotel was just up one block from the Underground and very easy to find.

We arrived through the door to a dingy looking lobby and a smiling front desk clerk. While my husband checked in, the kids sat down and were all beginning to fade. I kept talking to them, trying to keep them awake. Finally, we were checked in and found the elevator and went up to our room. I kept reminding the kids. ...We must stay awake. 

We asked for a cot and put it between the two beds so we all had a place to sleep.It was an interesting room. That window that you see in the far right was a window that wrapped to the floor and you could step on it and see the ground below. The kids were scared to stand on it.

While we took a quick relaxing break. The kids had fun taking photos of the room. and bathroom.

We decided to go out for my youngest daughter's 3rd birthday. She had turned 3 on the 16th as we flew into London. So we pulled ourselves together and got ready for our first adventure in London.

We wandered around taking in all the elaborate stone buildings. We were in awe at the detailed sections of the window panes and carved doors. It didn't feel real, like we had walked onto a movie set. I had never been anywhere that the buildings were this historical and intricate . The area where I live, the buildings get demolished if they get too old and the oldest one is only known to be built in 1882. This is also mainly because America isn't that old. In London one of the oldest buildings, The Tower of London was built in 1078. You can obviously see why there is such a  contrast between the countries. I always think of the three little pigs story. One piggy built his house of straw, one of wood, and one of bricks. It took more work to build the brick house, but the big bad wolf couldn't blow it down. 

What does this have to do with anything? There was a fire in London in  1666 that  report-ably  had destroyed 90% of the buildings (the wood buildings). Since that time when rebuilding London they decided to build the buildings mostly out of brick and stone.

We began to walk, to first look for a grocery store of some sort. This was our first run in with places closing down a lot earlier than in the  states. We had found one but it had already closed. Then we found a Sainsburys. We bought a few things and then headed to find a restaurant. I questioned the fact of paying for a plastic bag to carry the items out. (Our first time with this regular thing, that we would find throughout Europe, usually people bring their own bags and reuse them) In 2008 when we went on this trip, this was not happening really in my town yet. Now in 2012 its finally becoming more of a regular thing. 

Happy 3rd Birthday! 
We celebrated at an Italian restaurant with a toast of sparkling water, Fanta and good chocolate.

Goodnight. Finally.

Tomorrow we see The Tower of London and St. Paul's Cathedral

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