F was already in England for business so I took the train (Eurostar) by myself. I was a bit familiar with Gare du Nord (Paris Train Station) but just assumed their trains would be with the TGV (French High Speed Trains) but they weren't. After about 15 mins I figured out the check in/security was on a different level. It is similar to the airport minus all the liquid restrictions. I did have to speak to an immigration agent and explain why I was living in France and why I was going to London...The waiting area for Eurostar is very nice...shops, cafe's etc just like an airport. The train ride was nice and relaxing.
At first I thought that London's Underground aka "Tube" was easier and better than Paris's Metro...but after our trip I have changed my mind. The fares are so EXPENSIVE! 4 pounds for a single fare...yet a day pass is only 5 pounds 2o pence. Keep in mind this is POUNDS not Dollars or Euros. We were lucky since the Euro is very strong right now (not higher than the Pound but not too bad in comparison). Paris's metro single fare is at 1.80 euros but you can buy a Carnet of 10 tickets for 12 euros (that's 1.20 euros a fare - to use on the Bus/Metro/RER (within Paris's Zones). I think we also have passes for tourists as well but I don't know the costs. Also, the weekend we were there (a holiday weekend) 4 tube lines were completely closed as I guess they are working on them. This caused craziness on the other lines. Packed platforms and tube cars! I mean PACKED FULL to capacity. People smushed inside the trains. Also their platforms are very not very deep so they couldn't hold the capacity that was coming down to catch a train. I noticed that the employees had to close the entries because there were too many people already on the platform. People were not happy.
The weather was terrible...but basically the same in Paris this time of the year so we dealt with it.
We stayed in Victoria because it is in walking distance to Westminster and short train rides to the big attractions. We stayed at Premier Inn which was super clean and well situated (close to Victoria Station and bars/restaurants). It was moderately priced compared to the other hotels in the areas we were looking at (Mayfair, Chelsea, Victoria and Westminster). Before going I thought it would be like the US chain Holiday Inn or Best Western but it was nice (basic but nice). More like a Double Tree (minus the shampoo/coffee etc...).
Our first day we walked around Westminster. We saw Buckingham Palace first and was fortunate enough to witness the changing of the guards. We got some really great photos since this time of the year there aren't as many tourists. But they also aren't wearing their red coats since it was so cold :-(
After Westminster we walked by Big Ben and Parliament. It is a really beautiful building. F thought it was a bit depressing looking. But I like it! Afterward we went on The London Eye which is a slow (extremely slow) moving Ferris Wheel. It was nice to see London from up high and to get great photos!
Then we finished the day off with a walk through the National Gallery (which is FREE btw!). They had some great pieces (Ruben's, Titian's, Van Gogh's, Renoir's, Cezanne's, Seurat's, Rembrant's and the list could go on...).
The next day we went to Notting Hill (long tube ride since some lines were closed). We walked around and looked around some stores and made our way to Hyde Park. Notting Hill is so quite and peaceful part of town. We ended up in Mayfair and did some window shopping since we only found high end shops on New/Old Bond Street. We decided it wasn't worth buying expensive things we could get in France or the US minus the exchange rate and fees. So if there was something British that we could only find in Britain then ok. That night we had reservations at a nice French Restaurant...but not a normal French Resto. They had more Fresh products and cooking. We both had Fish that was so good! Everything was excellent. Restaurant's name is Cheyene Walk Brasserie btw.
Saturday our last day/night in London we went to The Tower of London. We LOVED it! We took the mini tour which is a part of the entry fee. It was so great to hear the stories of the Tower. The Castle is still a working Castle. Below is a picture of our guide (aka Yeoman Warder) he actually lives here in the castle with his family. All of the Yeoman's do! At midnight (like in the old days) they would lock the main gate. No one can come in or out without the Byward (password). The byward is only given out by the Queen! For good reason since The Family Jewels are housed/guarded here! I tried to take a photo inside where the Jewels are and I was threatened "Put away that camera unless you would like to lose that pretty head of yours"...wow I immediately put it away haha!
Also we saw where Queen Anne Boleyn and others lost their heads as The Tower of London was a Prison and execution site.
It was very interesting morning and we are so glad we decided to do it!
That afternoon we went shopping near Harrod's and picked up a few things for ourselves. Harrod's was crazy busy. It was an interesting looking department store. But interesting doesn't make for an organized store. Def just another touristy place not a place locals go for their daily shopping (at least this is what I think).
The final night was our Theatre night! We headed over to Piccadilly Circus (aka London's Time Square!). And saw The 39 Steps at Criterion Theatre. It was an awesome play - there were only 4 actors total and about 20 characters! It was funny to see them change characters it was a part of the bit. The play is based on a movie by Alfred Hitchcock...I didn't know he made comedies but we will have to check out the movie now after seeing the play!
The next morning we were up bright and early. Taxi driver came at 7am to take us to the train station. And BOOM! When trying to get down the stairs I missed one step and fell on my right ankle and then in an effort of catching myself fell on both sides of my left ankle! I could move my ankles and hobbled into the Taxi so I knew they weren't broken (or at least I hoped so). I really wanted to get home so we decided to take our train back to Paris and then go to the hospital. The ride was ok. I was not in any pain unless I walked so I was good. F's dad picked us up and took us to the Hospital. After 4 hours in the ER (it was Sunday which is common for most ER's on a Sunday). I left with 2 sprained ankles (left more severe than the right - yes the one I fell on while trying to not fall!). I now have to wear braces on my ankles (left 1 month/right 3 weeks), inject myself everyday (for 30 days) with anticoagulant, give blood 2x's a week and start PT after 3 weeks for 15 sessions! Big ordeal but at least it happened at the END of our trip to London :-)
It has been almost 2 months I feel much better...after 3 weeks I was able to walk without my canes. And after about 5 weeks without my braces. PT is done now I still don't feel 100% but getting there!