London Day 6 | Wales Day 1 : instant love

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On the sixth day in London we packed everything up and hauled it off to Paddington Station in a single file line of wheely suitcases. Yes, the very same station that the story of Paddington Bear takes place. We were pretty excited to go visit the famous bear statue and rub a few thousand germs off his nose.paddington-station-1

I was there too!

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The girls were super excited to ride a train. It was a first for both of them. What’s funny is that we bought books from the bookstore by our apartment in London in anticipation of being bored on the long train ride from London to Wales. We didn’t get bored! I don’t think any of us cracked a book once. The same thing happened on our long flights. Between playing with phones and all the media they pack into the back of your seat, you really don’t need those journals, colored pencils, books, kindles or iPad that you packed in case of boredom. So we schlepped that stuff around for nothing.

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The train ride was really nice. We had some sandwiches from the diner car and watched the pretty countryside go by. The further and further we got away the city of London the happier I felt. I love big cities but I think six days straight in one is enough.

When we got to our station in Cardiff, Wales we were immediately greeted by strange signs that we couldn’t understand. We had no idea that Welsh was it’s own language! I thought everyone was making fun of their thick accents when they told us about the funny letters in their words but no, it’s a language! It’s like bbbibty-bobbibty-ghnoklrbbest! As Bug says, they speak in cat-on-keyboard and there are consonants where consonants should not be. It was a hoot.

driving-in-walesYou know what was not a hoot? Driving on the wrong side of the road. Seriously. I cried real tears I was so terrified as Payam veered into oncoming traffic. My passenger seat in the front where the driver would usually sit was like  a front row view of my own death. It took Payam a long time to figure out where the lines were on the road and not skim off a few layers of paint from the other cars. But I cannot fault him because he is an excellent driver and I probably would have just sat on the side of the road crying. I was way too afraid to even attempt it.

So yeah, we rented a car from the train station and drove it out of the city and onto the country roads towards our hotel in Raglan. Obviously, the city streets were very scary but the country roads were too because they are so narrow! Sometimes it felt like we were bumping along a six foot wide road with no room for oncoming traffic, not to mention the odd jogger or bicyclist along the side of the road! And there were plenty of them. Every time we saw someone along the side of the road I closed my eyes, held my breath and prayed that no one would die. It was terrifying.

the-beaufort

But we made it!! You know what they say about loving what you suffer for. We were so happy to be done driving for the day I think we all felt like kissing the ground. We instantly fell in love with our little town and quaint little hotel. If it wasn’t so much trouble to get there I would put it top of my list of places I want to visit again. It was that cute and charming.

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There was some mix-up with our rooms and we were worried they wouldn’t have room for us in the inn but they found us the cutest little two bedroom apartment upstairs. It was soooo cute!  Look at those tea cups? That’s not your standard issue hotel ware.

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After a quick cup of tea we headed downstairs to the restaurant inside the hotel and had the best dinner ever. It was so good! I could feel all the stress of London traffic, disappointment over not seeing everything I wanted to see and the new added stress of driving on the wrong side of the road just seep out of me.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a more relaxing, delicious dinner.  The glass of wine and sunset view of a church that looked like a castle didn’t hurt. I could have stayed there all night except we were all incredibly tired and ready to get some sleep so we could be refreshed and ready for a wedding the next day!

London Day 2: Beating Around the Beaten Path

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We got a late start on day two in London. It just goes to show you that the best laid plans are not always the best laid plans. I bought the hop-on-hop-off bus tour before we left on this trip and my grand plan was to take it on day two so that we could get our bearings and know where we wanted to go on all our other days in London.

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Bah! You know how that goes. You wake up late,  yelp a good restaurant, realize it has a two hour wait queuing up down the street and you end up going somewhere else. That somewhere else turned out to be this little cafe called Moi & Toi that was perfectly lovely! They also spoke Farsi which made the Persian side of the family feel right at home. (Bug and I are picking up bits and pieces of Farsi here and there so one of these days we are going to answer someone in Farsi and trip them out because we are the most gringo-looking gringos there ever were.)

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The food was delicious! Unfortunately Payam was not feeling well so I had to eat his avocado “toasty” for him. Which might explain why I am looking fatter and fatter in every picture that Joon takes. Honestly, I am thankful that Joon is taking pictures though because I am never in pictures these days anymore. I miss my old thirty-something self who took good pictures of herself. Le sigh.

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After breakfast we stumbled into Hamleys by mistake! We didn’t even know we were in the neighborhood until we started seeing people walking around with bags of toys under their arms. I had heard about Hamleys from you lovely people and we were so happy to just happen upon it! Four stories of toys! Of course we are all too cool for baby toys anymore but that didn’t stop us from wandering around all bug-eyed with wonder as store employees called out to us to come see the latest thing, carnival style. It really was like a carnival.

So of course we left with some sweets and some plastic moldable bubble fascination in a tube and some flying saucer toy that we could have sworn flew by magic. We were sorely disappointed when we got back to our apartment,  opened the box and found out it was merely flown by a piece of string tucked behind your ear with putty. I guess that says a lot about the magical powers of Hamleys employees. They fooled us good.

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After Hamleys, Payam needed some rest to settle his stomach so the girls and I went exploring in a nearby park while he took a nap at the apartment. It was very warm and humid but not unpleasant.

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It wasn’t part of my plan to stick around our apartment neighborhood. In fact, I was a little sad to be stuck in this very touristy area BUT I do like that it’s starting to feel very familiar. We are always going to remember the little park and the route we take along the River Thames to the London Eye and then back over the bridge again. It’s starting to feel like our hood.

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Of course the kids love downtime and actually so do I. We are far from bored, that’s for sure! A little ice cream, some fun with bubbles…

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After a few hours Payam felt much better so we took him out on the same walk to show him all the things we discovered. This time we walked to The London Eye AGAIN because we had 7:30 reservations to actually ride up in it!

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We were not disappointed. It was really, really cool. Bug kept saying she didn’t want to go on  it because she is afraid of heights but she is full of baloney because she loved the entire thirty-minute ride. Does that look like a smile of someone who is scared of falling through a thick bubble of glass to their death below in a muddy river? No. She loved it.

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By the time we were back down on the ground it was sunset and we were ready to find the best Persian restaurant in London. We’ve heard stories from Payam’s family members so we were on a mission.

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A mission that was severely hindered by lack of wifi and roaming phone service. It is very hard to call an uber when your phone refuses to acknowledge you exist. We’ve have a lot of time to relax in the streets while we wait.

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We finally made it  to Iran Restaurant. I’m not sure it was the BEST Persian food I’ve ever had but I did enjoy my fesenjoon immensely. It’s so good! Their yogurt tasted like a dirty sink so I’m not sure what’s up with that but we survived. Maybe it’s an acquired taste. I think the water tastes different here and that has an effect on a lot of things.

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Then back to the streets in search of wifi to call another uber to go home. I actually kind of like these wandering walks. They are great for photography and you know how I feel about photography.

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I’m letting Joon borrow my old camera and she is having a blast with it. Who knows, maybe she’ll grow to be a photographer too! I would love that.

Goodnight Day Two in London! Tomorrow we try again with the hop-on-hop-off bus tour. And THEN Harry Potter! Woot!