Life: Honeymoon Day 3 (Part 1)

Europe, Honeymoon, Life, London, Travels, Vacation

On day 3 we woke up unbelieving we were in London.   We quickly headed out for breakfast before doing some sightseeing.

We walked around the city for a bit before heading out to Buckingham Palace. 

We wanted to see the Changing of the guards but so did everyone else.

There were many police officers doing crowd control. Can you see all the tourist in the background?

We enjoyed the the Coldsteam Guards Band march by us. 

We also enjoyed the drawings of some local children who were learning about their country. 

We ended seeing very little of the actual changing of the guards ceremony but we did enjoy the band and we saw the guards at the Guards Museum.

Across the street from the Guards Museum is St. James’s Park.  It’s a beautiful park where you can spend a day just laying out watching the clouds pass by.

We strolled hand in hand throughout the park. It was magical! 
After our stroll in the park we walked around some more.
We walked until we saw the London Eye and the Thames River.
We saw the Clock Tower and Big Ben.  We couldn’t have asked for a better day since the weather was amazing and the locals were charming. 
…To be continued…
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Life: Honeymoon Day 2

Europe, Honeymoon, Life, London, Planning, Travels, Vacation
As I was saying yesterday we left  LAX to Heathrow without knowing what to expect.  The 10 + hour flight was brutal even with all the great entertainment on board.  The longest flight we had previously been on was going from LAX to Florida when we went to Walt Disney World.  Our trip was worth the time we spent in flight and if I had to I would do it all over again.  I think you get the point by now the flight was very long. I don’t know if it was the anxiety or the excitement but as soon as we flew over London we forgot about it. 

As soon as we got off the plane and I began to hear people speak in a British accent I was beyond excited well at least I was until we hit the U.K. border custom’s line. 
Fast forward to about an hour later…

As soon as I saw this sign I had to take out my phone and snap a photo. We couldn’t believe we were in London.  Shortly after that we had to figure out how to use the famous Underground which as it turns out is really simple to use.

The easiest way to use the Underground was to purchase an Oyster card.  We initially put about £30 in each of our cards and were told that we could receive a refund at the end of our trip. We took a quick look at the map they gave us at the counter and we went on our way to our first hotel. 

My first impression of the locals was that they were all in a hurry to get somewhere and they were not very friendly.  We ended up getting lost on our way to our hotel after getting out of Victoria Station and as we preceded to ask several individuals for directions we realized that we were not in a very friendly city or at least that’s what it seemed like at the moment.   We finally found our way to our hotel where we decided that we were not going to rest until nightfall in an attempt to avoid being jet lagged.

We stayed at the Premier Inn Victoria a very lovely hotel in a great location.  We were in walking distance from Buckingham Palace, the Victoria Station and a lot of cool shops.

The room was lovely but the bed was just not super comfy. However, we didn’t mind too much since the room was really clean and quiet.  We didn’t expect rooms in Europe to be big at least not in American standards we knew better than that but this room was a decent size.

So, where was the first place we decided to eat at?  You guessed it McDonald’s and Subway which by the way we rarely do when we’re here in the States.  After a quick bite we headed out to explore our neighborhood.

We ended up heading out to Buckingham Palace and this was about the time that I realized I had forgotten my tripod. It was a big oops especially since the only reason why I bought it was for our trip.

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Life: Honeymoon Day 1

Honeymoon, London, Paris, Planning, Vacation

On my last honeymoon post I was telling you about some of the planning that I did before our trip which you can read about here. The day we left on our honeymoon the hubby decided to work from home while I finished getting our stuff ready for the trip.  As he was hard at work I packed and unpacked our luggage until I got it just right or at least that’s what I thought.  I decided long before our trip that I wanted to travel light I mean I seriously didn’t want to be lugging around things from one country to the next, who would do such a thing? We purchased a luggage set a long time ago which included one carryon bag but that type of carryon was not what I had in mind.  I wanted something that I could throw on my back and go if need be.  I wanted something bigger than a backpack but lighter than a simple carryon.  I went to several stores before I settled on the ones I purchased.  Once gain my frugality came to play as I was looking for the luggage.  I knew I had to buy two and I didn’t want to spend much so I set out to places like Marshall’sTJ MaxxRoss, and even Target.  I saw different types of luggage but not the ones I envisioned us carrying throughout Europe.  The day before we left I finally found something that looked promising and I bought it.  I ended up buying our luggage at Burlington Coat Factory and although it was not as dreamy as I hoped it would be it did the job.  I ended up paying about $30 for each one.

I know they look a tad childish but I least they could be spotted out in a sea of luggage.  The two key elements when buying these were that they could be rolled and they could also be used as backbacks and these fit the bill. These look a tad full but keep in mind that I took this photo when we got back from our trip.  I also bought cute labels from Target to put our address and name just in case they got lost. When it was time to pack I used this list as a template of the things we would need.  I made some adjustments to the list to fit our lifestyle.  One IMPORTANT thing that I didn’t take into consideration when we booked our flight was the weight limit for our carryon luggage.  It turns out that although our carryon was the right measurements it did not meet the weight requirement that Virgin Atlantic has.  There goes my idea of not checking in our luggage but at least we didn’t have to lug a big bag around.  One of the best purchases I made before our trip was buying these Brita bottles because as it turns out drinking fountains are nonexistent in Europe.  Another great tip that I found on several forums was the use of a money belt which we didn’t go anywhere without.  I purchased ours at Marshall’s for less than $10 each and it was an investment that gave us great peace of mind especially after seeing all the “Beware of pickpockets” signs everywhere.  Besides our “carryon” bags we also took a small messenger bag where we kept important things like medication, our 3-1-1 bags, and our folder with all our reservations.  In my purse I took my camera, my money belt (I put it on once we were past security at the airport), and my 4 SD cards (I took a lot of cards since we didn’t take a computer to offload the photos into).  
Once I quadrupled checked all our paperwork which included the countless reservations I had made and I checked that we had copies of our passports deep inside our luggage we were on our merry way. Before we left home we checked in online and filled out all the necessary paperwork that was required of us and I went so far as to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to cover all our basis while we were away.  To prepare to go through the security scan I made sure to pack our belts in the luggage, I wore a sports bra, and I told my hubby to take everything out of his pockets and put it in the messenger bag before we went through the line.  Once we went through security and were waiting for our flight we realized that we had gotten to the airport too early.  We left four hours ahead of our scheduled flight because we didn’t know what to expect. Next time around we’re planning on leaving two hours before our international flight is scheduled to leave.  We bought a few snacks for the plane and we waited for our flight to leave.  Once we were on the plane I was glad that I had used SeatGuru to pick our seats.  
Our flight left right on time at 9:15pm local time and was set to arrive at Heathrow at 3:50pm local time.  Overall we had a good flight with the exception of the cranky lady sitting behind me that kept hitting the back of my seat .  I do have to admit though if I could do it again I would have gotten a layover somewhere in the middle of our flight since we felt that 10+ hours is much too long to be on an airplane. 

We both thought that Virgin Atlantic was a great choice for our first time flying overseas.  All I have to say is that the food was good, the staff was friendly, the entertainment was great, and the goodie bag they gave us was a plus. 
…To be continued…
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Life: Pre-honeymoon planning

Honeymoon, Life, London, Paris, Planning, Vacation

I previously mentioned here that the hubby and I were planning on going to Europe for our honeymoon.  Now that we’re back  I would like to share with all of you the highlights of our trip.  Let me begin by saying that neither one of us had ever been to Europe and we had no idea what to expect.  I began the planning process six months before our trip.  I read countless of forums, books, and reviews pertaining to anything that might make me a savvy traveler.

Here’s a little about what I learned:

Flight
I first began planning our trip by booking our flight and I used Kayak and ITA software to look for them.  Once I saw a flight I liked I went to the individual sites and compared their fees to the others.  After doing a few comparisons we decided to fly with Virgin Atlantic.  I read several articles like this one that said that Tuesdays were the best day to purchase tickets.  I bought them a few months before we left because I wanted to make sure we got decent seats since we were flying economy. I used SeatGuru to compare the different seats on the airplane which came in handy on the way over there. Overall I was pleased with our flight with Virgin with the exception of their carryon requirements which you can find here. We decided to fly from Los Angeles International Airport to Heathrow Airport in London on a 10 hour nonstop flight.

Hotels
When I was looking up which hotels to stay at I used sites like Trip AdvisorFodor’sFrommer’sCondé Nast Traveler, and the New York Times Travel to aid me in the process.  I read an insane amount of reviews and tried really hard to see past the “fake” ones.  I focused on the value a hotel gave us versus how much it was going to cost us.  I mean you have to know by now that I’m a tad frugal nonetheless I did not rule out staying at either 4 or 5 star hotels.

Once I had the two major things out of the way I focused on our itinerary and I began to plan out the fun things. I will recap our honeymoon in the next few weeks and along the way I will include details on how how we got from London to Paris, how much luggage we took and how we dealt with the different currency.

Update:

Before any planning began I made sure that we had passports  and that we didn’t  didn’t need any visas to the places we were traveling to.  Since I changed my name when we got married I need to make sure it was up to date.  I ordered my new passport with plenty of time especially since we hadn’t set the dates for our vacation.  I decided to take my passport photos at AAA* and I summited it at the United States Postal Service.  Make sure that you send in all the information correctly because it will save you time and money. Visit here for more information and passport applications.

*You might want to order an extra set of passport photos just in case you lose your passport or if it gets stolen when your on your trip. 

Good luck and happy travels!

Here are the recaps of our trip:

Day 1, Day 2,  Day 3 (Pt. 1), Day 3 (Pt. 2), Day 4 (Pt. 1), Day 4 (Pt. 2), Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9,

Life: Honeymooning it in style

Honeymoon, Life, Vacation

Last New Year’s Eve as the hubby and I were siting around not doing much we decided that this year  we were going to do something spectacular to bring in the New Year since we haven’t had a memorable one yet.  We thought about spending New Years in Paris after finding this tour on Contiki.  I mean imagine your husband coming up to you and asking you, “If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?” I screamed out, “Paris!”  Well he didn’t really need to ask since he knows how obsessed I am with EVERYTHING Parisian.  Fast forward to September and we still don’t have any plans for New Years.  So, why am I bringing this up?  I’m bringing it up because as a result of that talk we had nine months ago we are finally going on our honeymoon.  We took the idea of going to Paris and ran with it and decided that if we were going to invest so much money on the trip we better make it worth while.  Our New Years idea turned into our 10 day honeymoon trip to London and Paris.

When we got married the hubby was working on so many projects that I didn’t want him to be stressed out because he had to leave them to go on our honeymoon.  Let me just say that he didn’t take any time off for our wedding unlike most of his coworkers.  Last year I was still in school and our schedules didn’t line up so we couldn’t make it happen either but this years everything worked out.  The hubby now has a new job where he works less and I finally graduated.  Things are great and I can’t imagine why people go on their honeymoon right after the wedding.  I have been planning every aspect of our honeymoon and I am ecstatic about it.  I can’t wait to share with all of you the many photos I’m planning on taking and all the bakeries we are going to visit.

If you could go any where in the world where would you go?