Sunday, July 5, 2015

England Day 4--Cambridge

We checked out of our London hotel on Friday morning, and headed straight for a Krispy Kremes.  (Are you sensing that we might be a bit homesick here? lol)  The saddest part is, this was not the first Krispy Kremes we found that week.  We bought at least one donut a day.  Basically whenever we saw them at a store.  And by 'we', I mean Nate and the kids.  Sawyer exclaimed at one point that Krispy Kremes were the BEST donuts ever--even better than the commissary ones.  Anyway, I'm glad we wasted an hour of our time in England at a donut shop (insert sarcasm here).  After our binging session was over, we headed north to the charming city of Cambridge.  I LOVED Cambridge.  It was beautiful and interesting and..well, charming.  I can't think of a better word.  We parked outside the city and took a double decker bus downtown--a highlight for the kiddos.  Our only goal here was to find the river Cam and go punting (what they call taking a little boat, or a punt, down the river).  There were several companies stationed along the river trying to sell their services, so the men were able to negotiate the best offer.  We lost Sawyer for about 3 minutes, found him (thank goodness), ate our picnic lunch, and climbed aboard.  I'm so glad we went Punting on the Cam.  Partly because I like saying that, but mostly because it was beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, and just so relaxing.  It was also entertaining to watch the tourists who had decided to steer their own punts.  Nate is determined that if we ever go back, he wants to steer himself.  He thinks he would be pretty good at it.  It was a fun day in Cambridge, and we headed back to the cars in the late afternoon to make the 2 hour drive to our next hotel.  

England (Day 2 & 3)--London

We spent Wednesday and Thursday exploring London.  We stayed in a hotel just northwest of London and took the tube downtown both days.  I love the city of London.  Its just a fun place.  Of course with kids, a stroller, and getting on and off the tube all day--we were pretty tired.  I was glad we had friends with us, so it wasn't totally boring for the kids.  After sight-seeing all day on Wednesday, we made a beeline for the Five Guys in Piccadilly Square.  We haven't had Five Guys in 2 years and it was GOOD.  (Which reminds me, we made it a point to find a Papa John's the night before as well!!)  On the second day, we took the kids to the British Museum, which they thought was pretty cool because they had just seen the latest Night at the Museum movie which takes place there. We sort of let the kids lead us in that museum, and spent a considerable amount of time letting them flail their bodies all over the stairs.  Whatever floats their boat I guess.  That first London night, Nate and I took all the kids back to the hotel while Ryan and Tiffany went to see Wicked.  Let me tell you, getting two strollers up and down the stairs and onto the Tube during rush hour is no small feat for two adults.  We struggled, but we survived.  Then the next night, they took the kids home and we saw Wicked.  It has been a dream of mine to see Wicked for many years--and it was so fun being able to do that with Nathan in London!  It was a fantastic show, as I'm sure you all know.  

The Tower of London 

The London Bridge

Buckingham Palace

The British Museum

Fish n Chips

The London Eye

England--Day 1 (Harry Potter Studios)

For Sawyer's Spring Break, we took a trip to England with our friends, the Bench's.  We left Monday afternoon, spent the night in Ghent, Belgium, and on Tuesday morning we drove to Calais, France, where the EuroTunnel (or Chunnel) was located.  We debated long and hard about whether to take the Ferry or the underwater Chunnel...ultimately we opted for the shortest route.  My only regret about not having taken the Ferry, was not getting to see the White Cliffs of Dover as we arrived.  But the Chunnel was very smooth and quick and we were happy with the way it worked out.  Ok now I am going to back the story up a bit--

Sometime in January we decided it was time to start reading Harry Potter to the kids (mostly Sawyer, really).  We read the first two books aloud, and then listened to the third in the car.  That combined with watching the first two movies (some parts of which were too scary for them but they loved it anyway), sparked a flame of love for all things Harry Potter.  We told them that when we went to England during Spring Break, we would go visit Harry Potter Studios.  Imagine my disappointment when, a week before our trip, I went to book tickets online and found that they were sold out!!!!  We were devastated.  Who knew that it was something that had limited tickets?!  I had no idea, obviously.  Something told me the next morning to go and check the website again, and to my surprise (and relief), some spots had opened up!  Tuesday was the only day that had availability, and we were due to arrive in England in the early afternoon, so I booked the tickets for the 6 pm tour.  We ended up getting to the Studios at about 4, and we had heard that they sometimes allow you to go in early.  We told them we had 5 small children with us and would love to go through earlier, and they gladly obliged.  Which turned out to be a very good thing because we didn't get out of there until around 8!! The kids would never have lasted had we started at 6.  

So where do I even begin with how awesome this was?!  Of everything we have seen in Europe, this might have been Nate's favorite. Our kids really loved it too (other than Isla--she could have done without).  There was so much to see and I felt like we were seriously living in a dream!!  I got chills when we walked into the Great Hall.  Without kids, we could have spent a few more hours looking and reading and enjoying it all.  We got to taste Butterbeer, which was so yummy.  Unfortunately Violet chose that moment to be a grumpy pants and she wouldn't so much as sip it.  Her loss.  Our only regret about the tour was not buying our kids one of the wands.  They are just so stinkin expensive, but man they would have loved them.  They spent the weeks after playing Harry Potter every time they got a chance, using sticks and whatever else resembled a wand.  Harry Potter Studio Tour was a huge hit for our family.  We'll never forget it :).  (I posted way too many pictures but I'm not sorry)