Monday, July 2, 2012

24 Hours in London

We are finally settled into our apartment in Como. I hate to brag, but we even have hot water.

At this point, it's a relief just to be situated. Now we're waiting on our "stuff" to clear customs and arrive at the apartment. We took a quick trip to London Saturday afternoon so that Cole could re-enter Italy on his work visa on Sunday, July 1. The work visa issued by the Italian consulate in Chicago was stamped with the date of July 1... even though they saw our flight itinerary and knew we'd be entering Italy prior to July 1. So we originally entered on our passports (as vacationers), but in order to be properly documented as someone traveling to Italy on business, Cole had to exit the entire 26 country Schengen region, just to re-enter and get the appropriate stamp in his passport. (In other words, we couldn't just drive 10 miles to Switzerland and re-enter.) We weren't exactly comfortable with Cole taking this trip alone since everything is so new to us here... and things haven't really gone perfectly smoothly so far. So... Eva and I got to tag along with him. Parker covered our travel and accommodations in London - what at special treat! We are so thankful for the opportunity.

Our trip to London was a complete and total whirlwind. We could have spent an entire week there and probably still felt like we didn't get to see everything. We decided the best activity to soak up as many sites as we possibly could during our short visit would be a double-decker bus tour. The bus we chose had around 25 stops and you could hop on or off at any time to walk around and explore. Unfortunately we really didn't have enough time to hop off because we started the tour so late in the day. It was expensive (around $60 USD each), but it was definitely worth it! We took TONS of pictures. Well, Cole took tons of pictures. I was holding Eva most of the ride. (Unfortunately our internet isn't super here... so I'm uploading some pictures, but not at the high quality I'd like. Boo.) 

Poor Eva. She missed most of London because she was sleeping. We owe her a trip back someday! She has been a trooper... we are incredibly blessed. What a sweet, amazing baby girl we have! We felt pretty guilty after flying from Milan to London, taking her by bus to train and then onto the bus again. Repeat all of that back to our hotel at the end of the day. She is probably very happy to be settled in our new "home" and not zipping around the world, for awhile at least. 

If we have time this year, we'd really like to return. London was an incredible city to visit - full of history. With the Olympics coming up, there were some special sites as well... Here are some of our favorite photos... all taken from a moving bus!

Big Ben: Well, the guide said this is actually the clock tower. Big Ben is technically inside the tower...
The London Eye: Erected in 1999, this ginormous ferris wheel was built on its side and slowly raised up.
The London Eye travels around at a speed of 1 km per hour; it takes about half an hour to make the entire trip.
Tower Bridge:  Right as we approached, the bridge was lifted for ships to pass underneath -
you an see the road vertical ahead. From Tower Bridge, you can also see London Bridge! 
Olympic Rings: Inside Tower Bridge the rings were raised so the bridge could lift
for ships to pass underneath. Our bus drove under and we looked up at the rings! 
The streets were packed! It was a Saturday and the weather was beautiful... London has a population of around
8 million, definitely the largest place we have ever been - WOW!