Saturday, January 4, 2014

A really overdue post about London

Wow, it has been a REALLY long time since I posted something.  I guess working full time with a toddler, while pregnant really takes a lot out of you.  As I am enjoying my last 2 days of Christmas Break (even though I am only going back for 1 week!), I figured I would start playing catch up on the old blog.

So, since I wrote last we have had a few adventures.  First, we met my parents in London for a few nights (which I will write about in this post...what I can remember), then Dan, my brother and I headed to Russia (minus Ava), spending a week in both Moscow and Saint Petersburg.  We also hit up some Christmas markets in Cologne, Brussels, and Maastricht.

Before I start on the London post, here is a quick baby update.  I am now 38 1/2 weeks and I am still feeling pretty good.  Two weeks ago, the doctors did an External Cephalic Inversion to turn this breech baby around and she is being a very good girl and staying head down.  The procedure wasn't too painful, more weird and uncomfortable than painful.  Unfortunately I have been struck with nausea again the past 2 days and have not been able to eat anything more than toast.  Toast for breakfast, lunch and dinner...delicious!  I am hoping this is just a little bug that will pass and not what I can expect until baby comes:(  Here is the most recent belly shot that I took on Christmas (37 weeks).

So, let's rewind all the way back to SEPTEMBER for a quick recap on our trip to London.  For some reason I did not take a lot of pictures from this trip, so it is even harder to spark my memory.

Dan, Ava and I took the Eurostar from Brussels to London.  This was a great way to travel with a toddler because there are plenty of opportunities to get up and move around.  Plus, it is a very quick way to travel.  The train moves up to 185 miles per hour and it is so smooth it barely feels like it is moving.  The entire ride only took 2 hours.

We arrived in London in the afternoon with plans to visit the National Gallery, but a hungry toddler that really needed a nap derailed those plans.  We had to wait until about 2:30 to check into our room and by the time we got settled in and put Ava down for a nap it was too late to hit the museum.  Instead we headed to Regent street for some shopping and checked out Hamleys, which is basically London's Fao Schwartz.  I am sure this was much more fun for Ava than looking at some old art:)

Sidenote- while in London we only traveled by the Tube. We bought an Oyster Card and had no problem getting anywhere; it was very easy to navigate.  Downside to using the tube...we were always underground so we didn't get to see as much of the city as I would have liked.

The next morning, my parents arrived and we headed out to the London Eye.  While waiting in line, Ava became the tourist attraction as a group of Korean tourists fell in love with her and decided they wanted to take her picture.  Ava loved the London Eye.  For those of you who don't know, the London Eye is a giant ferris wheel (the largest in Europe) and it offers great views of the city.  We figured this would be a good start to give us the "lay of the land".

Ava kept running to the window, looking down and yelling, "Wow!".

Ava loved spending time with Grammy and Papa

Buckingham Palace in the distance.  The Queen was not in residence.

Hey kids, Big Ben...Parliament.  Westminster Abbey is behind Big Ben.

I was trying to be artistic:)

After the Eye, we walked around Parliament and Big Ben and toured Westminster Abbey.  I really enjoyed the audio tour of Westminster and learning about the history of this amazing church and all the historical figures buried inside. Ava decided to take a nap on Dan's back, so we were able to really enjoy the tour.  She woke up just as we were finishing. Unfortunately, my only pictures of Westminster are from the outside, no photography inside.

passed out and in perfect timing

I thought I looked so pregnant here...ha!

We went back to the hotel so my parents could check-in.  Our hotel had an indoor pool, but we didn't have suits.  Of course my Dad did, so he took Ava into the pool while Dan and I headed back out for some shopping and sightseeing.  One of my favorite things was visiting Harrods. Oh course we had to buy a bear for Ava and Julia.  "Teddy" is Ava's favorite stuffed animal that she has to sleep with every night.  We met my parents for dinner and then came back to put the little pumpkin to sleep.  The best thing we did was get adjacent rooms.  We packed our video monitor with us and we were able to put Ava to bed and then walk next store and hang out in my parent's room.  A big improvement over the previous night where we hung out in the bathroom so we wouldn't keep Ava awake. Oh the joys of traveling with little ones. 
The next day we headed to the British Museum, which has a huge collection of Egyptian and Greek art (umm...stolen, but that is another story).  They also have the Rosetta Stone here, which I knew I took pictures of, but can't seem to find.  We toured through here, but had to make it a little quicker than we would have liked because someone was a little cranky:(

After the museum and some lunch we took Ava back to the hotel for a nap while my parents set out to explore more of the city.  They met us back at the hotel and took Ava to the pool again while Dan and I headed out to the Imperial War Museum.  Unfortunately the museum was under renovation, so only part of the museum was open.  Personally, I did not find the museum worth the visit (though it was free).  I am sure it will be amazing once the renovations are complete.  They did have an incredibly profound Holocaust exhibit.  We reunited with Ava and my parents and headed out to Piccadilly Circus, which reminded me of Times Square with all the lights and craziness.  Adjacent to Piccadilly Circus is China Town where we had a yummy dinner.  Again, I know I took pictures here, but where they are...who knows?
The last morning we only had a little time before we had to catch our train back to Belgium.  We decided to spend our morning with the royals.

We were lucky to have some good weather for our trip.  It was even sunny one day.  So sunny that Ava had to wear shades...