Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Marine Ball in Den Haag and Trip to London

Saturday, November 9th, Andrew and I were able to attend the Marine Ball in Den Haag along with Susan and Philippe (whom we had met through the American Women's Club of Amsterdam). The previous weekend, we had gone shopping in Haarlem for something to wear since it was a formal event. I found a nice dress, shoes and a purse at the Maremonti store in Haarlem. Andrew was able to find a tuxedo at Roka in Haarlem. Whew! We didn't really feel like going over to Amsterdam to shop. We like our quiet town of Haarlem, and we like to shop locally.

On the day of the Marine Ball, Andrew had gone in to see CarlaH at her salon for a haircut. He mentioned to her that we were going to the Ball and she told him she could fit me in to style my hair for the evening! So, at 1500hrs, I went in and she straightened my hair!  I just can't get the hang of it to do it myself!

Andrew and I picked up Susan and Philippe around 1700hrs, and we arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Den Haag at around 1800hrs. We were met there by SGT Carlson, who was holding our tickets. He and the other Marines there are Embassy guards.

On Monday, November 11, we took Sammy and Socrates to the kennel and headed to the airport to fly over to London. Andrew had a training class taking place there Tuesday and Wednesday, so we decided to make a short holiday of it. He took Friday off from work and we stayed till Sunday morning.

Because we had been there a couple of times before I felt okay traveling around by myself. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza near London Heathrow Airport Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because it was close to Andrew's work office where he would be doing his training classes. While Andrew was working I went into town. To get there via public transportation, it took almost an hour and a half.

 Westminster Abbey was first on my list:

It was Remembrance Day the weekend prior to our arrival.

Photos are not allowed inside the Abbey. Daily, at 1230hrs, there is a short church service. I was able to attend when I was there. It was quite a blessing to have the chance to participate in the service and take communion.

After my visit to The Abbey, I walked around that area a bit.

 Bird's eye view of Parliament building:

 Household Cavalry Museum:

Trafalgar Square:

 Interesting billboards in Leicester Square Underground Station:

Tuesday evening we went out to dinner with some of Andrew's work colleagues at the Three Horseshoes in Laleham.

The following day, while Andrew was at work, I went to the top of the Shard building. They bring you up to the 72nd floor where there is an enclosed viewing floor. It made me very dizzy bring up there, so I didn't stay long.

 Tower of London:

Bird's eye view of the Tower Bridge:

walking around in the Regent St. area:

The Liberty building:

Sunset in London:

Thursday morning Andrew headed off to work and I went to the hotel we had reserved in town. It was a Marriott called St. Ermin's next to the St. James's Park underground stop. I brought the carryon luggage, and Andrew planned to meet me there later in the evening.

There were beehives on one of the balconies of the hotel:
 and some beautiful flowers (physalis) in the planter in front:

I had planned to get a new laptop while there and found the Apple store on Regent St. to be too busy. I couldn't even get the attention of a sales person there. So, Thursday, I made my over to the Westfield Mall at the Stratford Underground Station.

I found the Apple store there to be much quieter and I got help soon after arriving. I pretty much knew what I wanted so it didn't take long to make my purchase. This time I did sign up for classes, which I can take in Amsterdam. I have figured out some things on the MAC on my own, but there are a lot of nuances I just don't understand or know about.

I headed back to the hotel shortly after buying my new laptop. The Stratford mall is beautiful, but I'm just not much of a shopper so I didn't feel compelled to look around much!

That evening Andrew made his way to the hotel via the underground. A few days prior I had bought us each a card to use on the underground so we didn't have to mess with buying tickets. Our hotel was right across from Scotland Yard.
We walked over of Fuller's Sanctuary for dinner Thursday night.

Friday we planned to spend the day at Windsor Castle. We made our way to the Waterloo Underground station to catch the train.

 We got there in time to see the changing of the guard!

 We went inside the St. George's Chapel and attended a nice service......
 For lunch we went outside the gates to a little restaurant called The Horse and Groom where we each had a delicious shepherd's pie:

We found a Scottish clothing store (The Edinburgh Woolen Mill) where Andrew found a jacket and matching hat!

We went back inside and went through the castle. There's a very nice tour with an accompanying audio. There are no pictures allowed inside....

We walked around Windsor a bit before heading back to London.
 Andrew has been talking about getting a pair of Church's shoes for a couple of years now. So, we made a point of going to the store on Regent St where he made his purchase. He is a happy man!

A few pictures of London shopping area:

The next morning we had reservations to go in to the Parliament building for a tour. No pictures allowed inside. What an interesting place! So much history!

 Afterwards we walked around a bit.....

 That evening we thought we had tickets for dinner and the play Matilda. We got to the restaurant....annnnnd......discovered that our tickets were for Friday night, not Saturday. We were a day late, and a dollar short as they say! We both totally messed up. Neither one of us had double checked the date.........Soooooo, we walked around the shopping areas and discovered that London during Christmas shopping time is not a great place to be!  There are soooo sooooo many people. The underground was so crowded there was barely breathing room on the trains. We had never seen anything like it before!  Everything in town was packed, so we went back to our hotel for dinner. It was actually quite relaxing and nice.

The next morning we took the underground to Paddington Station and then bought train tickets on the Heathrow Express to the airport. It was so relaxing in comparison to the night before!

It's about a 45 minute flight to Amsterdam. From AMS we took the #300 bus to downtown Haarlem and wheeled our luggage home from there (just a few blocks). We were home by around 1400hrs.

That evening we had reservations with the American Women's Club to make ravioli and drink wine at The Pasta Box restaurant in Heemstede at 1830hrs. We were both tired, but we had saved a spot so decided we should go. We were so glad we went! We had a great time, learned how to make raviolis, got to enjoy eating them and pair wine with it and enjoyed the evening with friends.