Just so you know, this isn't a typical trip report of someone who visited London. This is a trip report of a Beatles freak (who also loves Disney) who went out of her way to find every Beatles things there is to see. I have been dreaming of this trip since I was 13 (in 1990) and started saving over 2 years ago (to help me get through an awful divorce). I was traveling with my mom, who is also a big Beatles fan, but not nearly like me.
Days 1 and 2
June 7-8 2010
My mom and I had never traveled outside of North America before, so we weren't too sure what all to expect. We left St. Louis for Chicago and then from Chicago (and a meal at Chilli's) we boarded our plane for London. I was really dreading the 8 hour flights, but I have to say that it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. On this flight, we each had our own televisions on the seat in front of us with a touch screen. We were able to pick what movies or TV shows we wanted to watch. I picked Alvin and the Chipmunks 2. My plans for sleeping on the flight did not happen. I was WAY too excited.
We landed at 6am (their time) and stood in a VERY long line at customs. I was so giddy, it wasn't even funny. I happily told the lady that we were there "on holiday." And we were welcomed into jolly England!
After getting our bags, we took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station, which was near our hotel. We were staying at the Royal Cambridge on Sussex. During the time we were there, my mom and I lovingly called this hotel, "The Royal Dump." Since it was 9am, we couldn't check into the hotel yet. We were told that there was a secure place that we could store our bags. Yeah...that was just an open area under the stairs. We took out anything we thought would be valuable and decided to make our way out into England. Our first Beatles tour was at 11am.
We walked around the Paddington area and took a bunch of "tourist" type photos.
Here I am in a real red phone booth! (I basically have the same photo of me like this at EPCOT, but this was the REAL thing!)
Then we got on the Tube and went to Marylebone Station, where our first tour was meeting. I have to stop and say that the London Tube was extremely easy to use. The map was easy to read and understand. It is very smiliar to the "the L" in Chicago (which I have a little experience using from going there for the Fest for Beatles fans). We were about an hour early, but this gave us time to walk around that area and stop for tea and a muffin (lemonade chiller for me).
The tour we went on was Richard Porter's Walking Beatles Tour. This particular one was called "In my Life." If you are a Beatles fan, the Richard Porter walking Tours are a MUST! Having said this, don't expect Richard himself to stay off his memorized script. He doesn't appear to be a very personable guy and got flustered when I tried asking questions. He does have his script down pat. He also walks really fast.
We saw SO many neat Beatles things. Here are some of my favorites.
The alleyway where George Harrison felll while being chased by girls at the beginning of "A Hard Day's Night."
What once was the Apple boutique buidling.
In the middle of the tour, it started to pour down rain. My mom and I were not prepared for rain and needless to say, the dumb Americans got soaked to the bone!
The tour ended at Abbey Road Studios and the Abbey Road Crossing. While I was walking across the famous zebra crossing I started to cry a little. I had dreamed of walkingn across that street for most of my life and it was finally happening. I was there. It was more emotional for me that I accomplished such a big goal in my life than anything else. But it was a surreal moment for sure.
Abbey Road crossing. It is MUCH smaller in person that it looked on the album cover. The photos of me crossing it this day didn't turn out, but I had another chance the next day.
I also made sure to bring my Sharpie marker and wrote on the Abbey Road Studios wall.
The tour was offical over, but I decided that I wanted to find Paul McCartney's London home. I went left when I should have went right and got frustrated that I couldn't find it. But I knew I had another day to look at a map and figure it out. So mom and I (still soaked) went and bought a few souviners at the Beatles Coffee Shop at the Tube Stations and decided to offically check into our hotel.
The hotel itself was run-down. The carpet was worn and it could use a new coat of paint. Our room reminded me of a dorm room at college. It was small. The bathroom had the smallest shower I have ever seen! My mom never could get the toilet to flush (more on that later) and none of the plugs worked in the room. The pillows were so lumpy!
We changed out of our wet clothes and I realized that we had been awake for over 24 hours straight and I was really exhausted! I took an hour nap and felt better when I woke up. We decided to go eat some KFC down the road and then go shopping on Oxford Street.
There is a Disney Store on Oxford Street that I wanted to find as well as HMV music. I loved how the Disney Store was "London" themed.
I bought a Snow White pin from the Disney Store. We did a lot of window shopping and heard Big Ben go off. Mom (who didn't take that nap) was now getting tired and we had put in a full day. So we got back on the tube and had our first night at the Royal Dump.