Heading Back to San Francisco

We’ve almost come full circle and are heading back to San Francisco and then on to Lake Oswego, Oregon. It’s been a great trip, but we’re ready to head home. Yesterday afternoon we caught a flight from London Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic to San Francisco. Due to  the timing of flights we spent the night near the San Francisco airport and are waiting for a 9:00 a.m. Alaska flight back to Portland. The past 17 days have flown by and we had a lot of fun, but it feels good to be headed home!

In my upcoming posts I’ll be sharing stories of things that happened during the trip, people we met, impressions of places, what worked and didn’t work with our trip planning, traveling with a teenager, what not to pack, driving in Europe, our favorite and not so great places, and how to start and keep up with a blog while traveling – as well as anything else that comes to mind that may be of interest. I’ll also have a few posts about the trip to New Zealand that I took with Chris a few years ago and photos of the places we visited there. And I’ll probably have posts related to photography and galleries.

They are closing the cabin doors – time to go. See you back in Lake Oswego!

London On A Day Pass con’t

See the previous post for the first half of how we spent our last day in London using a Tube day-pass to travel around  the city.

After our stop at the Marble Arch we headed back to Canary Wharf and the Four Seasons for a break. But first we decided to stop at the plaza outside of the Canary Wharf Station for lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the plaza was filled with office workers from the nearby buildings. This is a great area with food carts, outdoor cafes and a shopping mall at Canada Place. And, there are plenty of places to sit and relax, and do some people watching.

After we arrived at the Canary Wharf station,  we headed up the long escalator to the exit.

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Signs along the way…

Canary wharf sign

Queen Elizabeth jubilee sign

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The plaza outside of the underground station at Canary Wharf and the Four Seasons Hotel.

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After taking a short rest at the hotel we were on our way again. This time we decided to take the Thames Clipper, a water taxi, to the Westminster stop. The dock is conveniently located right behind the hotel. While the water taxi is popular with tourists, it’s also used for daily commuting between downtown London and Canary Wharf and other areas along the river.

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The views from the boat are great.

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We got off at the Millennium Pier, which is near the London Eye and a few blocks from
Westminster.

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Then we took one last walk along the Thames.

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We walked to Westminster and took one last ride on the Tube Back to Canary Wharf.

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And then back to Canary Wharf for dinner at Carluccios, a great Italian cafe.

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On the way back to the hotel we walked through Canada Place for a little window shopping.

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Before we started packing for our flight home.

It was a great last day in London!

London On A Day Pass

We’re back in London and on the final leg of our trip. Overall this has been an amazing and exciting journey. Matt and I returned the car in Epernay, France with just over 2800 kilometers added to the Renault. We covered a lot of territory, and I ended up with about 2500 photos, even after daily deletions. Most of the photos have not been edited – I will be working on that, and putting galleries on the blog after I return.

Yesterday we decided to just see whatever we happened to come across riding the Tube on a day pass. We also discovered we could use the pass on the River Thames water taxi. One of the stops is at a pier conveniently located behind the Canary Wharf Four Seasons Hotel where we’re staying.
After  leaving the hotel we took a 10 minute walk to the Canary Wharf Station and started  at 9:55 a.m. These are photos of things we discovered along the way.

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From Canary Wharf Station we rode to the Bond Street Station to change lines to Holborn.

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There were lots of school children on a field trip. I love the orange vests – a great way to keep track of busy kids.

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This is the neighborhood around Holborn – a busy commercial and shopping area. We stopped at a model shop
Matt had read about online before leaving the U.S. and left with a model of a London cab and a few other things.

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And then we decided to see what was at the Marble Arch station.  Not surprisingly it was an arch, and lot of double decker red buses and a small park.

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To be continued….

First Impressions of Paris

Arriving at Gard du Nord

We arrived in Paris yesterday evening by Chunnel. The ride was incredibly smooth and I slept for most of the trip, missing everything between London and Paris, including the tunnel and the French countryside. Hopefully I’ll stay awake on the return, although Matt said I didn’t miss much going through the tunnel – it was shorter than he expected.

In just over 2 hours we arrived in the chaos of Gare du Nord Station. I had no idea what my first impressions of Paris would be. The size of the station was overwhelming with stacks of luggage, throngs of people, noise and an abundance of shady looking characters. The waiting line for a cab stretched for a block and we were told it was about a two hour long wait. The Metro seemed like too much to deal with after a long day and we opted for a shuttle/limo. It was a big SUV with a driver who spoke some English – anything for a quick escape to our hotel! We gladly paid the higher fare and were soon on our way, winding through the streets of Paris in the rain.

Drive Through Paris

The drive through Paris was a memorable one filled with swarms of motorcycles and scooters, breath-stopping maneuvering by the driver and what seemed like several near misses with anything that was in our path. He was soon pointing out the House of Chanel, Place de la Concorde, the Paris Opera, The Eiffel Tower…   even with the rainy, gloomy evening and wild ride, the beauty of Paris came through. We arrived at our hotel, Relais Bosquet, during a thunderstorm. The hotel was small and the staff were warm and welcoming. We checked in quickly and went up to our room which was small and cozy with a french balcony on the courtyard. The rain stopped quickly and we decided to walk to Rue Cler, a block away, for dinner at an outdoor cafe.

These are my first impressions of Paris, taken during a walk after dinner. Black and white photos seem appropriate for a rainy evening in Paris. It fits the mood of the evening – a bit arty and mysterious.

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Sunny Walk Along the Thames

Since arriving in London it’s been overcast and rainy. This morning the weather changed for the better.  The sun (finally!) woke me up early and I went for a walk along the Thames while Matt caught up on sleep. The path is located right behind the Four Seasons hotel along the river and is beautiful.

The weather is also beautiful and puts London in a whole new light. Even at 7:00 a.m. there were a lot of people out walking, bicycling and heading to work. I started my walk at the Canary Wharf Thames Clipper dock and headed toward Westminster. We plan on taking one of the Clippers before leaving London. Their service is frequent and fast, and used by commuters and sightseers alike.

With sparking water, bright blue sky and a few puffy clouds it was a perfect day for photos.

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