A blog about our holiday to Europe in June/July 2012

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 20&21 - 11/12 July Wed/Thurs (London)

We could all have done with a little more sleep this morning, but we had to get up at 7ish as we had rather a lot to accomplish this morning!

After breakfast we caught a bus to Westminster where we hopped off and then walked across the bridge to the London Eye – gorgeous views of the Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament!

I had pre-booked our tickets for the London Eye (so efficient I am!) Before we got on the Eye we went to the 4D experience – you get your 3D glasses and then go into this little theatre where there is a movie in 3D with foam squirting out etc.  Quite cute really.

The London Eye was lovely, such spectacular views!  We were so lucky with the weather as we had no rain while on the Eye at all.  It began raining the moment we were finished. 

That's "The Shard" ...it's new.

just so you know Paula and Calvin weren't the ONLY people on this holiday!

The venue for the Olympics beach volley-ball at Horse Guards Parade

Although we haven’t had very good weather in London, we have been so lucky – it has looked really threatening a lot of the time, but has only rained at moments when it hasn’t badly affected us.  Bonus!

Next on our agenda was Covent Garden, where we wandered around for a while before having lunch at a little outdoor restaurant selling Paella.  This was a spur of the moment decision, the paella just looked so flipping good! 

There are a lot of decorated phone booths around London at the momentSome more "bling" than others!

We then had a drink in an adjoining pub (so that I could use their loos…as Grant said, “yet another R100 wee!”  I ordered an Irish and as they didn’t have cream they filled the glass up with Bailey’s instead…. Oh. My. Soul!  I floated about in an alcoholic haze for about 3 hours afterwards!

On the way back to the bus Paula stopped for a Snog.  Not as risqué as it sounds – Snog is fat-free frozen yoghurt!  The shops are quite delightful – you choose your cup size, your flavour and then there are a multitude of toppings to choose from.  Very delicious and fun. 

Thanks to the appalling traffic, the bus trip back to the hotel took ages and then unexpectedly and unceremoniously  the bus stopped and deposited us on the pavement at Victoria, stating that the journey was ending there.  (And no, I had NOT been drunkenly singing!  Well not aloud anyway!)  We took a cab for the rest of the journey back to our hotel.

So now the time had come to shower, pack-up and catch our transfer to Heathrow.  All went swimmingly until we got stuck in a traffic jam of note!  The M4 to Heathrow had been closed for the best part of a week because of cracks that had mysteriously appeared in the road.  This understandably resulted in traffic chaos and we unfortunately landed up right in the middle of it.  We were eventually forced to revert to Plan B – we were dropped at Paddington station and caught the Heathrow Express instead.  Much quicker, calmer and more pleasant all round!

Although our bags were collectively 3 kgs over-weight, the kind lady at the counter never said a word and smilingly waved them through (I take back every ugly word I said about the staff at Heathrow), so we were spared that humiliating panicky shuffle of dirty laundry in front of the world at large.  Oh the relief! 

We then went and did a final spot of shopping, had a last pear cider (sob, sob!) a bite to eat and then it was time to go to the boarding gates.  Our flight is chock-a-block full of sports teams going on tour and screaming toddlers…. Oh dear!  Unfortunately we were delayed due to a storm.  Hey, I will choose a delayed flight over flying through a storm any day! 

We finally got going over an hour late and I had a few white-knuckled moments as there was some turbulence going on up there!  Things settled down eventually and apart from the screaming toddler, and some more turbulence as we crossed the equator, the flight was unremarkable.

Once we landed at OR Tambo things got a lot more exciting – our flight was obviously late, and then there were hectic queues at passport control.  It got to the point where we had 10 minutes to go before boarding opened on our Jo-burg/Durban flight and there was still a queue a mile long in front of us at passport control ......

......and we had yet to collect our suit-cases from the carousel!  My inner-cow came to the fore and I pushed our way to the front – most people were very understanding when I explained our problem, but there were a few who didn’t relate well to my inner-cow at all..  oh well….  We ended our holiday with a very undignified sprint across OR Tambo, heaving bosom and all, but managed to skid onto the Durban flight by the skin of our teeth!

And so we reach the end of yet another wonderful holiday.   It was amazing!  We saw unbelievably beautiful sights, ate delicious meals, had some incredible experiences, expanded our horizons, had many good laughs and spent quality time with friends and family; the hiccups along the way were minor and I would do it all again in a heart-beat!

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