Charlie's brother Tyler works for the State Department and is assigned to the London Embassy for the next couple of years. He & his wife Maren have a beautiful four bedroom flat in Hampstead. They were so nice to let us stay with them and to help show us around the city. Charlie's twin brother, Chris & his wife Carly were celebrating their 10 year wedding anniversary, so Charlie arranged for them to fly to Paris, and then meet up with us in London too.
They have a carousel there, and Isaac loves carousels so we decided to take him on it. As we were waiting in line for our turn, I began to have second thoughts. I have never seen a carousel spin so fast! And then we also noticed that there were no seat belts on these horses either. Well there was no way we were going to get out of that line without Isaac throwing a fit, so he & I got to take a ride on the carousel of doom. We survived. Isaac loved it and I felt sick for the next half an hour.
That night Tyler suggested we have dinner at The Audley - a classic English pub. We ate in the upstairs dining room (where Michelle Obama ate recently). I had fish & chips and smashed peas with mint. I loved the peas, but Charlie was not a huge fan so I suppose I won't be making them anytime soon. We rode home on a double decker bus. A must do for any London tourist, right? Well at least a must do for Isaac! He loved it.
Isaac loved seeing all of the double decker buses (sorry it's blurry!)
The next day Tyler had to work, but the rest of us headed out to Leicester Square to buy theater tickets. We checked out the markets in Covent Garden, and Charlie bought a little snack. As he was eating it, I said "hey, that's a hot cross bun!" Everyone knows what a hot cross bun is, right? It's that first song that you learn when playing any instrument: Hot Cross Buns. Except Charlie had never heard of it! I'm glad we were able to enlighten him. Next we walked down to Picadilly Circus to have lunch. We ended up at Ed's Diner - a classic American 1950's diner - and ate hamburgers & cheese fries.
Charlie & Carrie outside of Harrod's
By the time we made it to our next stop Isaac was sound asleep. I don't mind a little jet lag if it means Isaac will actually take a nap (he gave them up about six months ago)! We decided to wake him up for the Natural History Museum. He went from this:
All it took was for me to whisper "Isaac, do you want to see some dinosaur bones?" He slowly opened his eyes, sat up, and got a huge smile on his face. It was really funny. And he loved the museum. He saw dinosaur bones, all kinds of animals, fish, rocks, fossils, etc.
The twins: Chris & Charlie
After the museum we split up for the evening. Chris & Carly went to see the show Chicago and totally loved it. Maren headed home, and Charlie, Isaac & I went to ride the London Eye. It started raining on our way over, but luckily we had this:
I remember when we bought this Maclaren stroller thinking that I would never use the rain cover! But after spending a few days in rainy England I completely understand why these English strollers come with rain covers!
Isaac & Carrie riding the Eye
Maren & Carrie outside of Buckingham Palace
Charlie & Carrie at the Palace gates
Charlie, Isaac & Chris at the fountain outside of Buckingham Palace
Tyler, Maren, Charlie, Isaac, Carrie, Carly & Chris
Charlie ordering eclairs at Beard Papa
Carrie at the Indian Brasserie
Charlie & Carrie outside the Mama Mia theater
Carly & Isaac at the Natural History Museum
Isaac & Carly playing back at the house
St. Paul's Cathedral
Carrie & Isaac at the Tower Green
Oh, and we finally saw a guard with the Bearskin hat! Aren't these guys supposed to be totally straight faced and stoic? Because this guy failed miserably! First of all, he was chewing gum - a total "no no" if you ask me. And second, he didn't even seem to be trying not to laugh. We were not even funny.
Charlie & the Tower gaurd
I thought the Tower Bridge was beautiful. Everyone always mistakes this for the London Bridge. I wonder how that got so mixed up? The London Bridge is actually very plain, while the Tower Bridge is the famous and regal bridge that everyone recognizes. Next time we are in London I would love to go up and take the tour.
Charlie at the Tower Bridge
We stopped by Westminster Abbey and Big Ben once more on our way back to Hampstead. And then one more stop before heading back to the house: the Creperie. Okay, when Tyler and Maren told us about this place we pictured something a little different. We didn't realize that it actually was just a crepe stand. But it is famous, and for good reason! They use a ton of butter and make the crepes just a little bit crispy, then load them with nutella and banana slices (or whatever you choose), fold them up, slide them into their little paper wrapper, and serve them with a knork. Yes, a knork. That is what we decided to call these little plastic knife/fork utensils that we had never seen before!
Charlie ordering crepes from Le Creperie de Hampstead. It really is just that little stand!
Charlie with his crepe and the "knork"
Maren made us a nice home cooked meal that evening, and we were able to do some laundry and pack up in preparation for the next part of our trip. But as we were talking about our day, those crepes started to sound really good to everyone and we decided to head back out for one more. Why not? We were on vacation!
Carrie, Maren, Tyler & Isaac waiting for crepes. There is always a line!
Thursday morning Maren took us out for a little more shopping at Selfridges, which is famous for their unique window displays, and then over to the Embassy. We had to get special clearance as Tyler's visitors, and then go through full security and check all phones, cameras, etc. outside. Not just anyone can go in, so we felt kinda cool to be able to go on a tour.
Carrie, Charlie & Isaac outside of the US Embassy
Isaac was excited to see so many double decker buses