Sunday, March 17, 2013

The countdown to Europe!

As of today, we have exactly one month left. April 17 we jet off, first to London, and then on to Barcelona. We've booked all the flights and made plans for lodging. We're using AirBnB on this trip, staying in a spare bedroom of a guy's apartment in London, and then in a cute one bedroom apartment in Spain. It's nice to know the technical logistics are all taken care of at this point. Now the fun really begins, as we nail down plans for what we're actually doing during our visits to these two world class cities!

A terribly fuzzy picture from our trip to Paris in 2008.
Joe and I are both fortunate to have traveled to Europe multiple times in the past, and we both agree on a more relaxed style of traveling. We like to soak up the vibe of the city. That means wandering the neighborhoods, enjoying slow meals in truly local restaurants, and getting to know the city on a more personal level. We're tentative about structured plans, especially plans that involve too many timetables or any kind of large tour bus.

That being said, I still like to have plans for specific "must see" monuments, neighborhoods, or museums. I don't want to spend all my time wandering, and to miss out on important parts of the city. I've been obsessing over my research, trying to narrow down our plans for what to see. Here's a preview of some of our plans.

London To Do List

I used Aspiring Kennedy's blog for a lot of great London inspiration. She's lived there for a couple years, and has a lot of helpful insider tips. A few of her recommendations:

Evensong at Westminster Abbey

A free sung prayer service offered every evening at Westminster Abbey. You don't get to explore the whole Abbey, but the admission is usually £18.00, and the prayer service sounds beautiful. It sounds like a great way to wrap up a busy day of sightseeing. 


Tour the Tower of London
I've heard great things about visiting the Tower of London. It is the center of so much British history, and sounds fun and entertaining to explore.  This will most likely fill one of the afternoons on our trip.


Famous London Shopping Spots
I can't resist a little shopping on this trip! I am dying to visit the Food Hall at Harrods, and also the famous Liberty of London. Selfridges is also on the list, and the rest of Oxford Street. As a dedicated team member, you know I can't resist a visit to the Kensington Whole Foods Market! I hope we also have time to stop by Portobello Road Market as well.


Other ideas
We'll be visiting London during the 2013 Marathon, and might have to stop to cheer on the runners on Sunday. It's the largest marathon in the world!  We have plans for major pub eating and drinking, obviously. I want to visit the Tate Modern, and the National Gallery. I think my sister and I might have to ditch Joe for a little girlie proper British tea one afternoon, too. And to balance that out, Joe suggested we do a brewery tour. A suggestion that I do think I support (no big surprise here, huh?).

Have you been to London before? What are your favorite things to do? We'd love more recommendations!

I'll be back tomorrow to share some of our plans for the Barcelona leg of the trip.  Suggestions welcome for that part, too. Any other favorite spots to travel? I could talk travel all day!

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