Tuesday, July 15, 2014

We're Back + Our Big Announcement

WE'RE BACK!!!! We've actually been back since July 2nd, but we've been super busy catching up with friends and family and getting everything back in order. We had so much fun in Europe, but we are also so happy to be home! Before I go on and on about all of the places we went and things we saw, we did make a big of a big announcement before we left...

We had a very small extra carry-on added to our trip! We are expecting our first baby in December, and we could not be more ecstatic! It was pretty neat to watch the baby bump grow and grow while we were in Europe. I took a few "bump pics," but it wasn't until the week we got back that the bump was officially noticeable. I am now a little over 18 weeks, and according to Ben, I am officially pregnant! I absolutely love seeing the bump! 

I will post a pregnancy update soon, probably in between trip updates, but lets get started on our trip. Seeing as we were gone for 23+ days, this could take awhile! 

June 9th - Take off to London
Unfortunately, our air conditioner went out on the 7th, so we spent the night at my in-laws the night before. I woke up bright and early to get in one last run before leaving. I knew it would be a long time before I would be running again, plus there would be a lot of plane sitting. It was a perfect, rainy morning for a run! I was super glad that I got my butt out of bed. After my run, Ben and I headed back to our house to finish packing. I thought I had most of my clothes already laid out, but as always, it took be about 10X longer to pack than I thought it would. I kept overthinking everything. 

I tried to pack everything into two carry-on bags, one Kelty rolling bag a friend let me borrow and a big backpack (see above). All my clothes and shoes (two pair of sandals and a pair of tennis shoes) went into the Kelty and all of my toiletries and carry-on items went in the backpack. If anyone is interested, I am happy to do another post on what I packed, just let me know. 

After we got everything packed, we headed back to my in-laws to relax and plan some things for the trip before we left. I called a friend from college who happens to be a tour guide in Europe. She gave me some awesome tips, one being to download the app Ulmon Map Guides and the Tube Map before we left. These two apps ended up being awesome! They helped us navigate London and every other city/country we visited. She also gave us some awesome recommendations for places to visit while in London. All of this made be so excited to go! 

Our flight was at 7:50 PM, which ended up being amazing. We got to the airport with plenty of time to have dinner before we boarded. The international terminal at DFW has a bunch of options for dinner, but once we saw Cantina Loredo on the list, it was a pretty immediate decision. Of course we had to get our last fill of Tex Mex before we left! 

Having the flight so late was awesome, because we got on the flight, watched a movie (while others were served dinner...we didn't realize they would serve us), and then slept. We definitely did not sleep through the night, but we didn't officially wake up until they were serving breakfast. After that, the captain announced that we were about to land. The flight flew by, no pun intended! :) 

Going through customs and all that at Heathrow was a super easy process, but can we talk about the cankles caused by the flight?! Holy moly, I was so embarrassed! I had a feeling my feet would swell due to the pregnancy and the long flight, but I was not expecting what looked to me like elephantitis!! Ok, I'm being super dramatic, but they were definitely cankles! We quickly hopped on the tube and headed to Paddington Station near our hotel. The tube ride was a bit long and hot, and with not having eaten anything but some yogurt that morning on the flight, I was not feeling so hot. It felt awesome to get back up to street level and head to our hotel! Again, I can not emphasize how wonderful the Ulmon app was for this. It can be used offline, so the map popped right up! 

We stayed at the Park Grand London Hyde Park and I have nothing bad to say about this hotel. It was quiet and although our hotel room was small, everything was very nice. Who cares if your room is small?! We would only be in there to sleep! There was also a bathroom that we forgot to take a picture of, but it was a nice size. I think I was most surprised by the fact that there was no shower curtain, just a small piece of glass by the shower head. Weird!! 

We laid down for about two seconds before my pregnant belly growled and I realized I needed food soon, so we headed back out for the day! By this time, it was around 2:00 PM, so we walked around the corner to find lunch. We stopped at a small pub called Pride of Paddington. It was great! I got a tuna melt and Ben got a chicken caesar salad. I know I know, neither are really "English" food, but we didn't want to ruin our appetite for dinner and dessert! Definitely the highlight of lunch was the man sitting right behind Ben. He ordered the fish and chips and I will just say that from his very loud belches after each bite, I have a feeling they have very yummy fish and chips! Ben and I could not contain our giggles each time he burped. It was OUT OF CONTROL!! 

After our bellies were satisfied, we decided we should go see where Ben stayed when he studied abroad 6 years ago. We got back on the tube and headed to Imperial College. We walked around for a while and ended up in Hyde Park. I think we were both a bit too tired to walk the park, so we parked it under a tree for a while. It was such a nice day and I just laid my head on Ben's stomach and watched all of the families running around. There was a really cute group of kids chasing birds and also a dad teaching his son to skateboard. I loved watching everyone! 

Imperial College is the building on the other side of all the trees

A ginormous statue in Hyde Park 

We were a bit indecisive on what we wanted to do after Hyde Park, so we first went to South Kensington. There were lots of cute little restaurants and shops. We weren't really hungry yet, so we got back on the tube and went to Picadilly Circus, pretty much the Time Square of London. 

We walked around, went into some fun touristy London souvenir shops, looked at tickets for shows and just sat on the stairs you see above. People watching in Picadilly Circus was pretty awesome! After people watching and talking about plans for the next few days, we again got back on the tube and headed back to South Kensington for dinner. We stopped at a cute little place called Le Pain. Ben got an open-faced club sandwich and I got a quinoa dish. Exactly what I wanted at the end of a long, busy, draining day. We could tell that we were both incredibly tired by the lack of conversation had at dinner, and came to the conclusion that we should probably head back and get some rest. Obviously, this could not happen without getting dessert, so we walked across the street for a scrumptious crepe. 

It started sprinkling while we were in the restaurant, so we sat under a small awning and enjoyed a nutella and banana crepe for Ben and a strawberry, almond and butterscotch crepe for me. They were incredible! How could I not have taken a picture?! I guess the lack of sleep made me have a slight mental lapse... so sorry! 

It was a super early night for us. We went back to the hotel, cleaned up and got in bed. I think we were both probably out no later than 9:30. It was a great first day, and we needed lots of energy for the days to come! 

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