We were able to work our itinerary on the way back to give us a 24 hour layover in London, giving us time to explore one more place before finally heading home. We left Athens on the morning of April 27th at a decent time (8am, not too early) and then with the time change ended up landing in London at 10am. This was the start of our first class journey home as well and after all our little "normal" flights it was even more exciting to be given the special treatment!
Upon landing in London we got our bags (it is truly a miracle that we never lost a bag once this whole time! Some of our connections were short!) and then got in a taxi to head to our hotel, the London Heathrow Marriott (with points). When we got out of the cab and he told us how much and Mike handed him the amount in Euros...we had no idea that England didn't use them too! Luckily the cab guy was nice and took them anyway, but come on England, get with the program ;-).
We got settled in and then went downstairs to talk to the front desk about how to navigate the city. We had been thinking we would just do one of the big bus tours they offer in every major tourist town, but it was pretty chilly and they turned out to be pretty expensive. It still would have been worth it had we cared to see most of the sites in London, but we just didn't really haha. We really wanted to see Abbey Road (and eat something delicious of course) and that was it, but felt like we needed to take in more while we were here. So, with careful instructions about which line to get on and which stops to use we boarded a bus and then took the tube into the city.
flying over Venice
We got off at Hyde Park Corner and walked to Buckingham Palace. We then walked through James' Park, which was very lovely, and were making our way towards Big Ben on the Palace of Westminster. By this time we were also quite hungry and were worried about needing to change money since all we had were Euros but we could not spot a restaurant anywhere. We did happen upon some guards changing which was lucky timing and then as we were coming down another road saw this adorable restaurant called The Red Lion. There was only a short wait, the inside was adorable and the food ended up being amazing. We definitely lucked out!!! We had fish and chips as well as one of their pies (which were savory, meat-filled and sooo good!) and some hot chocolate to warm us up. The weather was sunny and beautiful but still quite chilly for us :-).
(no idea what this guy was doing :-)
and exposed to see the view out the window
Big Ben was right around the corner so we took some pictures of it and thought, "well, we checked that off the list" :-).
Mike flagged down a taxi and we were off to Abbey Road. The drive there gave us a quick overview of the rest of the city. The townhouses you think of when you think of London, Hyde Park and more old churches.
Unfortunately part of the crosswalk on Abbey Road was covered up due to construction, but we waited for a break in cars to take a quick picture of the half you could see. We walked down by the actual studio, which you cannot go in because it is in use still, and then on to the gift shop. We bought some prints for our kitchen that we need to get framed and Mike got a cool t-shirt. It was pretty crazy to be there! I was OBSESSED with the Beatles for quite awhile...who hasn't been though I guess :-)!
We were feeling pretty exhausted by this point and decided to start the journey back to the hotel and get organized for the next morning when were flying alllll the way back home.
a monument dedicated to animals in wars?
When Mike booked these tickets using miles over a year ago he had tried to find an itinerary with the American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER that has the flagship first class suites, but it just never worked out so we went ahead and booked something else. Well, a couple months before our trip we got notification that our schedule had changed a bit and we ended up getting moved onto one of those planes! We flew non-stop from London to Dallas this time in super comfort (SOOO much better than the Chicago stop we had on the way there because we could just settle into our nice seats and relax before having a super quick flight on to Houston). It seriously was amazing flying this way! I watched 4 movies laying down or reclining and even could get a massage in the chair! We had a menu to select our meals from and a snack bar up front to use anytime. Pajamas to change into. The chairs swiveled to face the desk so you could work if you wanted. Privacy screens. I mean, it was seriously amazing. The 10 hour flight went by in a flash!
By the time we landed in Dallas though we were so excited to get home that the Dallas to Houston to home leg of the trip seemed to take forever. Eventually we arrived at our front door at 6:30pm. Yay!!! The kids seemed relatively excited haha! After a brief catch up we headed to Lupe Tortilla for dinner. Even after all that yummy food in Europe we were ready for Mexican ;-)!
at the lounge in London Mike tried porridge :-)
some of our airplane food. I specified gluten-free for the flight home because I knew it would be time to be good :-)
a Mike photobomb on my immigration picture haha
our nice welcome home!
And our last memory from the trip...
After about a week in Italy we realized how many silly signs we saw and decided to start taking pictures of them from that point on. I'm sad we don't have pictures of them all, but these ones still make us laugh.