Greg and I both love London, England. Naturally when Greg had to make plans to go to London for work I quickly said yes to tagging along.
Friday morning we woke up very early and brought Fred to my parents house (they spoiled him rotten and he actually gained a pound). We parked in central parking at Logan Airport and made our way to the British Airways check in desk.
Once inside we had a short wait for the British Airways counter to open up. We checked in the day before and printed our boarding passes so all we had to do was drop off our checked luggage. Since getting Global Entry we have yet to be able to use TSA pre-check (only certain airlines participate). We waited in the security line and after a short while we made it through.
The British Airways staff in Boston were very efficient and boarding was incredibly easy. We had economy seats (paid for seat assignments when booking though) and settled into our window and middle seat. What I don't like about British Airways is the lack of leg room and the lack of personal air vents.
Our 6 hour flight was relatively smooth, had friendly flight attendants, and a decent selection of movies. When it came to meals Greg opted for the regular meal and I chose the lactose free meal. I was pleasantly surprised to see ripe fruit, breakfast polenta with stewed blueberries, a roll, and vegan butter (this is the first flight I actually received dairy free butter).
We landed in London a few minutes early and unfortunately got stuck in an hour long line at immigration. Luckily we arranged a pick up with Eddie Manning Transfer Service. Our driver patiently waited for us and also called us to check in just as we were picking up our bags. We met our attentive driver right at the exit and had a short walk to the car. We made our way from the airport to CitizenM London Bankside. We noticed a major difference between London 4 years ago and right now....Construction! Construction is happening at the same time all throughout London. You will find narrowed lanes, closed roads, detours, and tons of congestion!
We arrived at CitizenM Bankside and walked into a fun and vibrant atmosphere. The self check in computers are easy to use but we did also get some assistance from an employee. We made our way to our assigned room but once we got there we weren't thrilled with it being right next to the elevators. The employee at check in gladly switched our room to one further away.
We had room 546 which offered a large bed, desk and chair, sink/shelf, mini fridge, rain shower, toilet, safe, hanger space. While I can appreciate the design, the tv, ipad, and mood lights I must admit the room is small. We had to leave 90% of our belongings in our suitcases (which would take up the entire width of the floor when open). The other downfall to the room was that when you would turn on the sink for the first time each day there would be an unpleasant smell from the drain.
During our stay we didn't dine at the hotel but we did enjoy drinks downstairs on multiple locations. The bartenders were friendly, fast, and made excellent cocktails. If you would like to tip your bartender you must have cash on you as they can't process tips on cards.
Everyday the cleaning staff did a wonderful job. Our room and the entire property were always immaculate!
The location of the CitizenM Bankside is perfect! It was a 10 minute walk to Greg's work, easy walking distance to to multiple sites (Shakespeare's Globe Theater, Borough Market, Tate Modern, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, etc), has a lot of restaurants nearby, and a small grocery store across the street.
While the room size was a problem for us I would stay at this property again and recommend it to others.
After dropping off our luggage we realized we were starving so we walked up the street towards Borough Market and decided on our favorite burger restaurant Honest Burger. I find it incredibly interesting that in London people readily queue up for restaurants. There was a line of about 3 couples ahead of us but we only had a 10 minute wait.
We were seated and brought drink and food menus. Greg ordered a beer and I chose a mint julep for drinks. For food we both chose the Beef burger (mine was on a gluten and dairy free bun). All of the burgers come with rosemary salted chips known to us as french fries.
The burgers are seared beautiful and cooked to the correct temperature. The onion relish is sweet and tart and the lettuce is fresh and crisp. The chips are hot, crispy, and the addition of rosemary is perfect!
We settled our bill and had a fun chat with a friendly staff member about other travelers/visitors. We would have loved to stay for another drink but the long day of traveling was catching up with us and we were ready to crash so we left and walked back to our hotel and easily fell asleep.
At Christmas I wished for a year full of fun traveling. I am so happy to say that my wish is coming true! I am incredibly thankful for the life we have and even with bumps along the way I know we are so fortunate!
I have been a busy bee lately when it comes to travel plans! I have been researching flights, hotels, sights to see, restaurants....the list goes on and on. So far in 2018 we have been to New York City for a long weekend, attended two Travel Shows (New York Times and Boston Globe), and enjoyed a long weekend in Maine. While all of that has been fun what's coming up is oh so exciting!
I would love any tips you have for these destinations or if you're planning a trip feel free to ask about my research!
I am jumping on board a work trip for Greg to London. We'll be sightseeing together over the weekend and then during the week I'll be checking out the sights solo then meeting up with Greg in the evenings.
It didn't start out this way but so far we have looked at the major sights, Asian restaurants, and afternoon teas. Some new sights for us this trip will be Shakespeare's Globe Theater, St Paul's Cathedral, East London Walking Tour, The Shard, and Victoria and Albert's Museum. I'll be posting on Instagram and Twitter daily and hopefully blogging during the trip as well.
To read about our past visit to London check out our blog page, and our archive page.
Florida and Bahamas Cruise
Anthem of the Seas by Royal Caribbean
This will be our first Royal Caribbean cruise and our first cruise with friends that have kids. In Port Canaveral we have decided to rent a car and drive to Disney Springs where we'll eat, shop, and visit with a friend who lives in the area. We'll be catching up on some R&R on Coco Cay. Our last stop will be in Nassau where we'll head to Atlantis . I have mixed feelings on the Atlantis property but with the kids this seemed like the most appropriate place to relax on the beach.
On-board the ship we plan to be more active than usual. When we cruise we usually grab a drink, a book, and some music and just unwind! This time around we have plans for the Dreamworks Character Breakfast (like I said we'll be traveling with twin 22 month olds). We're going to see our first music show at see; We Will Rock You. We'll do some day drinking and learn about wines at the Wines Around the World Tasting Class. We're also going to fly in a tube with RipCord by IFLY. Our reservations haven't been made yet but I'm sure we'll try out a few of the specialty restaurants, especially Wonderland. We also got a great deal and decided to book the deluxe beverage package. The package is pricey but it does include water, premium coffee, and fresh squeezed juices unlike the one provided by Norwegian Cruise Line.
I think this cruise will end up being a nice blend of relaxation and getting out of our comfort zone! I'll be posting on Instagram and Twitter daily and will blog about our experience once we get home.
Belfast, Dublin, and Wicklow Way
Greg and I will fly into Dublin spending two nights there. Even with limited sleep we'll start right away and explore Dublin. The next day we'll be taking a full day tour to Belfast and then on to the Giant's Causeway. During the week we'll head south of Dublin and start our hiking trip with Hillwalk tours. We have opted for the 5 day Gentle Hike on Wicklow Way.
Here's a basic itinerary from Hill Way Tours website:
After our hiking adventure we'll head back into Dublin for one more night before flying home to Boston. I have no idea if I'll have service or if I'll be exhausted from hiking but keep an eye out on Instagram and Twitter. I will definitely blog about our experience once we get home.
Between flights, hotel, tours, and hiking we will definitely be looking to purchase travel insurance for this trip. To read about our past experience with travel insurance head over to our Travel Tips page.
If you're like most people, there is never enough time to research travel insurance companies. Reviews.com has created an un-biased article that researched 22 national insurance providers. Reviews.com not only compared prices but also inclusions, add ons and more. What I love in the article is that they also simplified things for us by breaking down the best policies for trip type. To read their reviews and book a quote visit here.
We had planned to go on a 2 week road trip but between budget, time, and future plans we thought it would be best to put that on hold. We still wanted to go away and in an effort to still have fun while being economical we opted for a road trip to Florida.
We'll be driving down with my parents and Fred. We booked a 2 room, 2 bath suite near Disney World. Greg and I want to relax, see family friends in the area, maybe do Disney, maybe go see Harry Potter, and maybe go to the beach. My parents are looking forward to seeing family friends, Disney, Mount Dora, and Tarpon Springs.
Bangkok Thailand, Chiang Mai Thailand, and Hong Kong China
My cousins called us up and asked if we would like to join them on a trip to Thailand and of course we were like heck yeah! We started researching hotels, sights to see, tours, airfare, and more right away. This trip is still coming together but so far we have:
We'll be spending a full day flying to Bangkok where we will spend 4 days in Bangkok. We're planning a temple tour, boat tour, and night market food tour. From Bangkok we'll be taking the overnight train to Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai our big excursion will be spending the night at the Elephant Nature Park. Our other excursions will be a temple tour, tour to Chae Son and Wat Phar Phu, and a full day tour to Doi Inthanon National Park. After Chiang Mai my cousins will separate from us and make their way home. Greg and I noticed that our flight home would leave us in Hong Kong for a 20 hour layover so after talking it over with our Fred sitters we extended our trip and will spend some time in Hong Kong. We're hoping for a food tour, a visit to Lantau Island, and maybe a trip to main land China.
I will be sure to post on Instagram and Twitter daily with our adventures (not sure about during our stay at the Elephant Nature Park as my focus will be on the elephants). I will try blog about our experience during our stay but most will be done once we're home.
20 minutes north of Boston is Woburn MA. Woburn is mostly residential but lately is becoming known for up and coming restaurants. The Baldwin Mansion in Woburn houses The Baldwin Bar, The Baldwin and Sons Trading Co, and Sichuan Garden II. The Baldwin Bar is nominated for the 2018 James Beard Outstanding Bar Program, was and was named one of the best bars in America by The Daily Meal.
On Friday the 24th of February we had reservations at The Baldwin Bar. A half an hour before our scheduled seating time I received a text that our seats were ready. Once inside we turned to the right and spoke with the host. Our seats were 2 on the far left of the bar. The Baldwin Bar area had a throw back feel to a casual Tiki Bar. There was lots of dark wood, palm leaf wallpaper, and vintage Tiki glasses above the bar. The bartender/server brought us over some water and gave us a minute to select drinks. For our first round we ordered the Corso Cooler and the Trader Vic Mai Tai. The Corso Cooler was nicely crafted but a little too tart for my taste. The Trader Vic Mai Tai was balanced and refreshing.
I appreciated that the bartenders tested their drinks as they were being made. Unfortunately, I started to notice a few things I didn't appreciate it. Our bartender started covering her mouth with her arm when coughing but slowly started to just cough into the air.
Our first selections of food came out and were the Dan dan noodles and Chengdu dry hot chicken wings. We enjoyed both of these dishes and were happy with the level of heat. Next came the Sweet and pungent ribs and Pork Dumplings. These dishes were a little disappointing. The ribs were good but difficult to eat. We've had riblets before but these were tiny (maybe around an inch each). The pork dumplings had the same flavor as the dan dan noodles. We realized that everything was topped off with the same chili oil.
For our 2nd round of drinks I opted for the Trader Vic Mai Tai while Greg chose the Red Baron. The Red Baron was definitely the winner of the evening. The Red Baron was a rye whiskey based drink that was sweet but still refreshing. I am not a fan of apricots normally but the apricot completely makes the drink. At this point in the meal I was really getting irritated. The bartenders were talking loudly about their evenings and one staff member who would come behind the bar often was eating out of a bag of Cheez Its right in front of us. I would also like to mention that while eating Cheez Its with her hands I never saw her wash her hands before returning to work.
Our entree came out and it was the House spicy brisket in cellophane noodle bao along with some white rice. This dish was more than enough for 2, savory, warmly seasoned (five spice), and was very satisfying. The dish is more like glass noodles topped with a beef stew.
In the end we agreed that the drinks were phenomenal, the food was okay, and the service was lacking in cleanliness and professionalism. I wouldn't return to that particular area but would be willing to try the more relaxed upstairs bar of Baldwin and sons trading co (which does offer a different drink menu).