Physically, at least. I feel sick to my stomach with the jet lag and wonder at those who willingly go to bed at 5 a.m. and sleep past noon on a regular basis. My body has no idea what time it is, and I have never been so happy to see my own bed.
But in spite all of that, it was so worth it. It was such a fantastic time. My companion on the trip was the lovely Annie, and we made the most of every minute there. She was my ideal travel partner - flexible, happy, and eager to see it all. We laughed, ate, shopped, and soaked it all in.
First up was London. We had fish & chips. We rode a double-decker bus -- both to combat the jet lag and allow us to see the city while sitting down. Definitely a must when you're halfway across the world and trying desperately to stay awake.
We saw Westminster Abby. We saw Kensington Palace. We went to Les Mis, and cried from the opening song to the finale. (Though I am still trying to forgive Alfie Boe for being sick the night of our tickets. Boo.) It was amazing anyway. The understudy was perfection. Such a moving experience.
We snagged some last minute tickets to see Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones. (FABULOUS play. JEJ completely stole the show. We were close enough that I could see his perfect teeth. Such a great smile.)
My favorite London meal was high tea at The Orangery on the grounds of Kensington. It felt so royal, so British -- sitting on a patio, snacking on our finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, eating our tarts, and sipping our tea - staring at the beautifully manicured grounds and doing it all just yards from Kensington Palace. Many times I wondered aloud if we were really there. It felt like I was living a movie.
Another highlight was The Tower of London. Having read all the Philipa Gregory books and nurturing a slight obsession with all things Henry VIII, it was surreal to stand in the places where they once did. Standing on a tower walkway, looking down and seeing cars, it felt so wrong and out of place with the ancient magnificence of the Tower. Walking through darkened hallways and windy staircases, you almost forgot what century you were living in. It was fantastic. I could have spent days there.
I had a surprisingly teary-eyed moment at Harrods. Walking through the store, feeling awed by the architecture and beauty, I remembered a silly bucket list that I made when I was about 14. Something I haven't thought about for years. On it were several things you couldn't pay me enough to do now (such as skydiving and bungee jumping), but one of the things I wanted to do was buy something at Harrods in London. The naive little 14-year-old me, who had never yet even been out of her home state, dreamed of what it would be like to travel and see the world. I remembered making the list and my determination to do all of the items on there at some point in my life. It was a sweet moment, indeed, to cross that one off the list. A dream come true, as they say, silly though it may seem.
After drying my tears, smiling at my teenage self and proudly thinking, "I did it! Just for you!" we set out to conquer as much of the city as we could. We shopped. We strolled through Hyde Park. We ate at Byron's. We ate at Jamie's. We collapsed into bed exhausted every night.
We made the most of it.
It was just divine. I am slightly heartbroken that it's over, but am so happy to be home and in the arms of my babies.
Stay tuned for highlights from Paris and the brutality of re-entry which somehow always seems to involve a sick kid.