On Sunday we headed back to London to Hillsong Church. Amazing worship experience, even if Jessica and I had to take in the service from the “baby” room. Afterwards we headed to see the top item on my list: Diana’s chapel! This was a highlight for me, for sure!
Here are some words I wrote for the end of our Shutterfly book. It’s not required reading, so no complaints that it’s long! 🙂
We were so blessed to have friends take us to England who had lived there before. That meant we didn’t have to drive on the other side of the road. That also meant they knew the area well enough to get us around and about in cars, trains, tubes, and double-decker busses.
We were able to hit all the major sights that one wants to see when heading to London, giving us just a taste of all there is to experience. We would love to go back and see more things in detail. I want to tour Buckingham Palace and the Royal Muse. I want to spend a lot more time in St. Paul’s Cathedral (where Diana was married). I want to enter Parliament. I want to spend a full four hours at the Tower of London. None of these were possible in the time we had, but we got to see each of them and snap the obligatory photos of us with each of them.
A neat story about our experience with St. Paul’s… On our first day in London we used the Hop-On-Hop-Off tour. We passed “Diana’s chapel” before the automated audio-tour guide told us what it was. I was disappointed to have missed it, but we had other things we really wanted to do, so my mind was set toward getting us to the Tower of London. The next day I started to really hope that we could go by and see the Cathedral on Sunday when we were back in London. Zak and Jessica were cool to let us go out of the way a bit to spend some quality time there. I LOVED every minute we spent there and am so glad it worked out that we were able to fit it in.
Things that surprised me:
* Londoners do NOT wait for the “little green man” before crossing the street. (Germans ALWAYS wait and I appreciate them for that.)
* There is way more to see and do in England than I thought.
* The London Eye is much bigger than I expected.
* The babies did a great job traveling in their backpack carriers.
* Double-decker busses are just as fun to ride on as I had imagined.
* There were NO pictures of Diana… Anywhere.
* A baby who touches your lens at Hard Rock will leave a smudge that will be evident in all the pictures you take for the rest of the day, causing some of the windows on Parliament to be blurry.
(Clean lens often.)
I also believe God had his hand on our trip. We asked Him to bless us with smooth travels and safety and He answered those prayers. Some of the many ways we saw this are below:
* Even though we had 10 people in our party, we were always able to be seated in restaurants immediately. Unheard of.
* At The Hard Rock Cafe they sat us immediately, gave the kids a table next to ours, and gave us a military discount without us having to ask. (I wouldn’t have THOUGHT to ask… the waiter asked us if we were “with the forces.”)
* We got on all trains/busses/tubes without having to wait a long time. AND we never got on a wrong train/bus/tube.
* Our hotel was amazing: 1 bedroom, 1 full kitchen, 1 living room, 2 full bathrooms. (Each family had their own hotel room.)
* We saw several accidents averted right before our eyes. A few SHOULD have been accidents and, had they occurred, we would have been involved.
* Nothing got stolen, lost, or left behind. (Not even Bailey’s “Lord of the Ring” ring that he did his best to lose!)
* We had absolutely gorgeous weather!
* Everyone stayed healthy while on the trip.
* On the way home we drove as far as we could, trying to get into Germany so we could fill up at an Esso station, using the US prices rather than European prices. The GPS sent us on a wild goose chase and we ended up in a small village with an Esso Station that had closed a few hours earlier. At that point we were 29 miles from empty. We were a bit nervous that we wouldn’t find ANY station open, Esso or otherwise. Matt prayed aloud and within 3 minutes we found a Shell. Paid full price, but got enough gas to get us home without danger of running out. The relief of finding that gas station more than compensated for the extra money we spent having not used an Esso station.
* And finally, as important as almost anything else, we left for England friends with the Hills and we returned as such. There’s always a chance that too much togetherness can tarnish a friendship and I believe God was good and provided protection against this. We are thankful for every aspect of this trip!