Thursday, May 31, 2012

Better Late Than Never: UK

Ahh, I've been wanting to write a little something about our trip - but as soon as we got home we've hit the ground running and haven't stopped since.  Working 10+ hours on at the computer almost everyday doesn't make me want to sit any longer and blog.  But I do want to put up pics and make commentary, so I'm giving up my morning walk to write this.

To sum up: Best. Trip. Ever.

We went and stayed two days in London, two days in Southampton UK and then spent a week doing a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2.  It was awesome!  We had a great time and met some great friends.  I don't think we could have planned a more perfect trip for us.  I'll write about London and Southampton in this post and then QM2 in another.

A few weeks before our trip we ended up getting to know Brian and Eric. Brian is a dealer in ocean liner memorabilia and Eric and is pretty much the end all be all when it comes to RMS Lusitania.  Coincidentally we found out they were going on the same QM2 crossing as we were with a group of their "shippie" friends.  They were awesome and this group pretty much took us under their wing and we has such a great time getting to know them and hear about their adventures on the High Seas.  Meeting this group of friends was definitely the high light of our trip.

London to start.

London was the "lowlight" of the trip, and we still enjoyed that - 
so you know it must of have been a good one if London was the low.

It was cold and raining, but still awesome!  We took in the major sites around Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.  We also were so jet-lagged we feel asleep at 6pm and didn't get up until 9am the next day, but after that crazy 15 hours of sleep we were set to go for the rest of the trip.

The tulips around Buckingham Palace were AMAZING!  I loved it! 
We saw the Changing of the Gaurds (which was the main let-down for us cause we were so packed we could hardly see what was going on and the Gaurd's band played Frank Sinatra - who I love, but I didn't fly all the way to England to hear American Ole Blue Eyes - give me some British stuff!).  

We also took whirlwind bus tour and enjoyed getting a fast look around the city. We loved the history and age to everything and the crazy roads.  I mean NYC's got nothing on London.  We took a taxi one time and the driver was cool and zipped us around on some of the one-way-side-driving-on-the-curb streets to make sure we got a good feel for the crazy roads.

The classic phone booth - I think this was at Trafalger Square?  
The last night we were in London we saw Phantom at West End and it was the BEST production we had seen.  They didn't rush anything.  So great!  

After the show we walked back from the theater to our hotel and it was the perfect night walk.  London was beautiful, glowing and even peaceful in such a crazy city.

Then we went down to Southampton. 
Southampton is one of the major ports in the UK.  It was pretty much bombed out during WWII because of how big of a port it was.  This was also the city that Titanic, Queen Mary and most of the famous ocean liner sailed from.  So we loved the history there.

Titanic Engineers Memorial - the most iconic Titanic Memorial

And again - many people put flowers there for the 100 - year Anniversary of the sinking which was on April 15th a couple of weeks before we were there.  This was also where we ran into some friends.  We met Nelson and Manny two guys who were obviously as interested in Titanic and Craig is.  We stopped to talk with them and found out that not only do they live in Long Breach (for the sole purpose of having a view of the Queen Mary from their balcony), but they we're part of the group that was with Brian and Eric knew.  They were awesome and we ended up walking the QE2 mile with them and having lunch.

Southampton named a stretch of mile after the QE2 and along it's way dots all kinds of ocean-ship related sites to see.  So that was pretty cool.

Bombed out Holy Rood Chruch (built around the 1000 I believe - bombed out during WWII). They also put another Titanic Memorial inside the church

Love the engraving of Titanic here.

Titanic Memorial to the Stewards and service crew erected but their mothers and wives back in 1913.

They has a new liner/Titanic museum open in Southampton and the crowing piece was this: Honor and Glory from Titanic's sister ship the Olympic's Grand Staircase.  This should be almost like the clock in Titanic's Grand Staircase, only this one was painted white years later during a re-fit.

Strolling through an English park.  I loved that!

The Ship Shop.  
Cobwebs is the Godfather of all ocean liner dealers.  Craig has a field day in there.

The Giddy Bridge - the pub we ate at with all our new friends.  
We met up with Brian, Eric, Nelson, Manny and met Bob, Tina, and Peter.  They were so nice and so welcoming - and I didn't get any pics with them in Southampton :(.  Oh well pics of them to come later.

Oh and British food?  It was great!  I loved Fish and Chips and their Chicken Korma curry. Craig loved the Bangers and Mash (sausage and potatoes) and the meat pie.  It was all pretty tasty!

We also met two guys who didn't go on the crossing, but both have written books about Titanic and other ocean liners.  They came to the new Titanic Museum with us, Richard and David. They were hilarious!  Older British guys with an awesome sense of humor and great stories to tell.  You couldn't have asked for more interesting people to talk with.

The view from our window the morning of our departure.  You can see QM2 to the left with her red funnel.  We were so excited!

All our luggage and getting ready to go down to the port. So excited!

To the Ship!

Cont. . .