Browsing Category

travel

travel

Oh Disney!

So you know there’s no way we’d take a trip to Southern California and not spend some time in Disneyland right? That possibility does not exist in this universe or any other universe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We had 4 days to spend in Disneyland, which might seem like a lot of days to cover 2 parks but it really isn’t. Especially so during christmastime where crowds are heavier than usual and park touring becomes less efficient. 4 days gave us time to cover everything we wanted to without hustling like maniacs around the park. *But if you’re visiting during low season, 3 days should be just about right.

Yeah, first things first. Here are all the things you need to know about visiting SoCal Disneyland.

1. Buy park hopper tickets. 

Your mileage may vary on park hopper tickets at Disney World and you’d have an equally nice time without them, but at Disneyland, get them park hoppers! The 2 parks are located just steps away from each other and getting from park to park takes you 5 minutes tops. In fact, you can think of it as one big park separated by 2 turnstiles.

This allows you to get concurrent fast passes for both parks without waiting for the 2 hour window and more fastpasses = YES.

2. Stay offsite. 

Again, there’s no real need to stay at a Disney hotel in Anaheim, unlike in Disney World. The price vs perks ratio just isn’t justified in this case, plus there are so many other decent (and very cheap) accommodation options just directly opposite the park.

3. Allow more than 1 day to watch the fireworks. 

I could watch the fireworks everyday for the rest of my life, but that’s not really the reason for this. As it turns out, there’s a pretty good chance of the fireworks being cancelled on days with unfavourable wind conditions. This happened 2 out of 4 days we were there, which was such a bummer. It was a good thing we managed to catch it at least once on the second night.

We were hoping to watch it again on our last night at the park but it got cancelled minutes before showtime. :( So make allowance for this to happen.

4. Sleep in and stay late. 

We tried a new strategy this time around – to sleep in and stay till park closing, which in this case was at midnight every night. This probably wouldn’t work as well during the lighter months where park closing is at 10pm, but with the parks open till midnight, we managed to do way more rides during the last 3 hours than the rest of the day combined.

The queues for most of the rides were in the region of 40-60 minutes throughout the day, so we took it easy with fastpasses and shows during daylight hours. And then the fun really started after the fireworks, which is the point where most families with sleepy kids would make their way to the exit. Except my kids, who are commando trained and extremely dedicated to their enjoyment of rides.

This is when all the rides (besides Radiator Springs Racers + Hyperspace Mountain) dwindled to 5 minute wait times. All of Fantasyland was so nice and quiet, it was such a treat to have the whole place to ourselves. Like Dumbo was a walk on and we rode it 8 times in a row without waiting. To do this during the day would have taken 3 hours at least. It’s a Small World? Walk on. Peter Pan’s Flight? Walk on. King Arthur’s Carousel? Walk on. We got on Storybook Canal Boats and had the entire boat all to ourselves so we had a delightful time chatting with the cast member who decided to break out in song midway though the ride.

One night, it was drizzling and even Toy Story Midway Mania(??!!) was a walk on so we held an epic 7-round smackdown for the highest total score. When the parks are operating at full capacity, the late night hours is where it’s at.

As a by product of our late nights, the kids would be exhausted and sleep in till 10am the next morning so by the time everyone got ready and had brunch, we’d make it into the park like 11.30, just in time for the parades and shows.

The only caveat is that if you intend to get fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers, get there early on one morning before you do the midnight run.

***

As far as the highlights go, I have only 2 words: Cars Land.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m a little late to the Cars Land party but this new addition to the park is a home run. It’s a bazooka fly ball into the stratosphere kind of glorious home run by the Disney Imagineers.

I’ll preface this by saying that Cars (the original) is one of my top 3 Disney/Pixar movies. It used to be the top until it got taken over by Inside Out and Frozen, but I still have a very soft spot for the magic of old town route 66.

The theming here is out of this world gorgeous.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And forget everything you think you know about the best theme park rides. Allow me to introduce you to the best ride in the history of awesome rides: Radiator Springs Racers.

This is by far the best ride I’ve ever been on. It’s kind of like my next favourite ride, Test Track, except much, much, much better. The line for this was consistently over 120 minutes during our entire trip and the fastpasses for this ride is usually distributed by 10 in the morning. The only way to ride this without waiting 2 hours is to hit the park at rope drop and then RUN LIKE YOU’VE NEVER RUN BEFORE TO GET FASTPASSES.

I never ever say this for any other ride, but even if you have to queue for this, it’s worth it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The other ride you’d want to check out is Hyperspace Mountain. As it is, Disneyland Anaheim’s version of Space Mountain is far superior to all other versions, and they’ve managed to make it even better by jazzing it up with a Star Wars spin. I didn’t ride it in my pregnant state, but the husband rode it with Tru + Kirsten and they all assured me that it was quite spectacular.

In addition to the rides, one of the surprisingly fun sections was a little nondescript corner called the Wilderness Explorer Camp at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. It’s an area for the kids to earn wilderness explorer badges by completing explorer tasks. My kids seem to have a very bizarre obsession with collecting badges and say what? Wilderness Explorer badges?? With a proper presentation ceremony by Russell??? Are you kidding me I’m never leaving this place!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finn is usually very shy about this sort of thing but he was super excited to volunteer to take his Wilderness Explorer pledge on stage. So adorable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And as a special treat at the end of it, they got squashy hugs from Dug and Russell.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okayyyy, that’s all from this Disney nut. Over and out.

travel

A day in the snow

It was a 3 and a half hour drive up to Lake Tahoe but the 7-hour detour was so worth it because this.

IMG_7266-2

And this.

IMG_7234-2

And this.

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 3.37.10 PM

And this.

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 preset

I don’t do a lot of quotes but here’s one from Mark Twain, who apparently said that “To breathe the same air as the angels, you must go to Tahoe.” He’s probably right on that one.

We took a whole bunch of photos and then we stopped because all the photos just felt like they weren’t even close to capturing what we were seeing with our eyes. Also, it’s really hard to hold anything with your frozen stumps in that sort of temperature, much less think about framing and shot angles.

Next time, I’m just going to make the husband wear a gopro on his head – problem solved.

***

We had 2 nights in Tahoe, which factoring in the drive, left us a full day in the snow. 1 day is far too little time to spend up in the mountains if you intend to do any proper skiing, but it was good enough for this trip because I couldn’t snowboard in my pregnant state anyway and Finn is a little young to start ski school. Ideally, 4-5 days would be just about right. We’ll put the kids in ski school and go hit the slopes all day.

For non-skiers, there’s still lots to do in Lake Tahoe, starting with a healthy breakfast. Incidentally, *we had the healthiest breakfast of our entire trip in Tahoe. Like woah, look at this huge pile of green things I cannot even identify.

*Full disclosure: I’m using the term “we” loosely because the husband ate this. I had a delicious bagel with cream cheese. 

IMG_3095

IMG_7176-2

//Oh oh, and snow gear! I did a quick check prior to the trip and it costs $20 per day to rent ski suits for the kids, which is daylight robbery.  I managed to snag these snow bibs + jackets on Amazon during black friday for under $30 each, and it kept them nice and warm in the snow. Plus it’s super cute and I ordered a size up so hopefully it lasts them for another 18 months at least.

I suppose this means more ski trips on the horizon. Or I’ll just make them wear it at home for fun. Kids, every other Thursday is ski suit day. I don’t care that it’s 32 degrees out, just put this on!

***

Whether you ski or not, a trip up the gondola to the snow capped peaks has to be done. I mean, where else are you going to get away with looking like a deranged person in a photo? Okay, tons of places, but here you get a magnificent view too.

IMG_3020

There’s also tubing (super fun according to the kids!), making snow angels (also super fun!), pretend-eating snow cones (NO DON’T ACTUALLY LICK IT, that’s disgusting!), snowball fights (girls team always wins, no hitting girls with snowballs!), and um…do you want to build a snowman? YES, the answer is always yes.

Except that it’s really hard to build a snowman without Elsa’s ice powers. We made a sad-looking lump and then gave up to go lie down in the snow instead.

IMG_7251-2

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 5.00.18 PM

IMG_7282-2

IMG_3064

In the evening, after a long day in the snow, the husband managed to find the energy to go ice-skating with Tru and Kirsten while Finn and I went back to the room for a nap. We all had fun.

Processed with VSCOcam with h3 preset

travel

The best of San Francisco

After our near death experience that was biking across the golden gate bridge, the rest of San Francisco turned out to be very lovely.

In total, we spent 20 days touring California – 5 days in San Francisco, 2 days in Lake Tahoe, a day in Monterey/Carmel, 5 days in Disneyland Anaheim, 3 days in San Diego, and 4 days in Los Angeles. This itinerary broke up the driving into 3-5 hour stretches, which was manageable with 3 kids in the back seat.

I don’t think there’s ever enough time to spend in SF, but 5 days gave us plenty of time to explore the bay area. Here are some of the highlights.

Golden gate bridge + Sausalito (Round 2)

Yeah, we went back across the golden gate bridge to Sausalito again, this time via a cushy uber ride because we know better. It was like visiting a completely different place, with golden light, clear skies and the soft caress of a gentle breeze. The kids were like, “woah, this is so relaxing, but…I think it’s more fun to cycle.”

I don’t know if we should be thrilled or concerned about their decision-making priorities. What have we done to these kids??

IMG_2926-2

IMG_2943

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Time passes differently in Sausalito, there’s no rush to be anywhere or do anything. When one is in Sausalito, one takes the time to share an ice cream and really appreciate one’s company.

To be fair, it was a little hard to enjoy Sausalito while suffering from mild PTSD the last round, but being back again reminded me of why this is still one of my favourite places in the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alcatraz

We were really keen on visiting Alcatraz but by most accounts, it isn’t considered an entirely kid-friendly destination. It’s the kind of place you bring the kids if you want really drive home the message about bad behaviour = go to jail = terrifying nightmares. Which, um, OF COURSE!

I’m kidding. Sort of.

Let’s just say that I’m not above a casual mention of jail time the next time they act up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you’re planning a visit to Alcatraz, I highly recommend the audio tour, which is excellent. It’s the right amount of chilling and captivating, with fantastic background music and interviews with former wardens + inmates. Both Tru and Kirsten were completely into it and they followed the tour intently from start to finish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was all so very Shawshank Redemption in an immersive, experiential sort of way and we all enjoyed it, including Finn who ditched his audio tour and decided it was more fun to dance his way around the block to Jailhouse Rock.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Fisherman’s Wharf

Touristy as it is, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 is always a good time, especially with kids.

There’s so much to do – explore the pier, hang out with sunbathing seals, grab a freshly-steamed dungeness crab from street stalls, round it off with a clam chowder in a sourdough bowl at Boudin, watch a magic show, ride the carousel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Golden Gate Park

We eventually made it to Golden Gate Park and I’m glad we did because if you asked me right now what my favourite thing to do in San Francisco was, it’d be riding a pedal boat around Stow Lake. And I’m not even the nautical sort – I get horribly seasick on most modes of sea travel, including cruises, ferries, kayaks, boats, canoes, rafts, and windsurfing boards…all except a pedal boat. Such is the nature of my peculiar nautical nausea triggers.

I’m now a pedal boat convert. Give me a pretty lake with some ducks and I’d be riding pedal boats all day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_2813

IMG_2841

IMG_2856

IMG_2849

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After all that relaxing pedalling, we thought it’d be a good idea to end the day with more pedalling on a surrey bike. This turned out to be far less relaxing. It’s like as if we haven’t learnt anything from our previous bike riding experience.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Why? The idea of a surrey bike looks like so much fun. But don’t fall for it! And throw in 3 small humans worth of weight and it’s like trying to pedal a military three-tonner up a mountain. There’s no gear shift to speak of, just raw human thigh power and I pretty much used up all my reserves during the first 5 metres.

We had barely made it onto the street and I already could not even breathe. I then pretended to do my share of pedalling for the rest of the ride while the husband singlehandedly pedalled all 5 of us around the park very very slowly. We were moving so slowly that an old lady on her walking aid blitzed past us and lapped us twice.

On the plus side, the kids thought it was super fun, even more fun than the paddle boats but then they don’t know anything and they also do not do any of the hard work.

travel

The craziest adventure

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s our third day here in San Francisco and it’s already turning out to be an unforgettable trip. SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT, you guys! I’ll try to get as much of it as I can down and we’ll see how far we get.

We started the first day nice and easy, with a late brunch at the Ferry Terminal Farmer’s Market and a stroll along the pier. We were last here 8 years ago on our honeymoon and it felt a little surreal to be back with 3 kids. So much has changed while so much has stayed exactly the same.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After enough strolling had been done, we hopped on over to Union Square for a little more strolling. Union Square is where it’s at during christmastime. There’s a massive tree, an ice skating rink, street performers, carollers, and a little something known as Winter Walk SF.

Also, there happened to be a Santacon on that very day so we saw hundreds of santas descending upon Union Square all dressed in red + white.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

+++

Day 2 is when things got rapidly out of control. The original plan was to spend the day at Golden Gate Park riding pedal boats but the forecast was all rain and sadness for the entire day so we made new plans to hang out at Fisherman’s Wharf instead. Except that when we got there at about noon, the sky was blue and beautiful, without a single cloud to be seen.

I was all “Hey, the weather looks perfect now, how about let’s rent some bikes to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge? We’ll make our way to Sausalito and ride the ferry back.”

So we did. And I’ll say right now that we’ve done some pretty crazy things over the years but this was by far the craziest of them all.

We picked up 2 bikes – one with a ride-along (for Truett) and another with a baby seat (for Finn) + a trailer (for Kirsten). First of all, on retrospect, this set up is ridiculous. And it’s over 6 miles to haul 3 tiny humans, with 4 daunting slopes uphill. But at that moment, we were like “Yeahhh, this looks like fun and it’s totally doable with our thighs of steel.” I sometimes forget that I’m pregnant and this was clearly one of those times.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first five minutes, it was all good. We were cruising along with the wind in our hair and big smiles on our faces. The kids were like “wheee, this is the best day ever!”

Even at the first uphill incline where we all had to get off and push the bikes up (very unglam), everyone was still full of optimism, singing and being all encouraging. “Come on, we can do this!!” they yelled.

The next mile and a half started to get gruelling. The husband was doing all the hard work carrying the 2 small ones along but I was already feeling the exhaustion even with Truett pedalling furiously behind to give me a boost. The singing got gradually softer and nobody was whooping for joy. At some points, I started getting woozy from a lack of blood or oxygen in the brain; not unbearably so, but enough to remind me that I was still very much pregnant.

At the second uphill climb, I could no longer feel my thighs, but I had some adrenaline and sheer determination to keep going.

By the time we got to the third slope, we could see the Golden Gate Bridge just up ahead and it was a magnificent sight. What’s less magnificent is that without much warning, the sky got ominously dark and within minutes, it started pouring. We were stuck with nowhere to take shelter and no raincoats. I considered turning back but we were past the halfway mark and to return would be like that dumb blonde joke where they swam out halfway, got tired and swam back to the starting point.

Thankfully, both Finn and Kirsten could fit in the trailer where it was sheltered and warm. One problem solved. Truett, my rockstar, soldiered on bravely through the rain.

I’ll have you know that this is where I started to question all my choices in life.

Finally, we made it up to the bridge and things got categorically worse. Much, much worse. It was freezing and the wind was so strong that it was like pushing the bike against a very fat sumo wrestler who was just standing there laughing and blocking the way with his enormous ass. I yelled at Tru to hold on to the handlebars with all his might so he wouldn’t get blown off the bridge. He yelled back that he couldn’t because he had lost mobility in his fingers.

The wind was howling, the rain was pelting down hard and fast and I’ve never felt so cold and helpless and miserable and afraid. How about that determination from earlier? There was none left and I just wanted to give up on life.

I felt like Frodo on his trek to Mordor, except Frodo had it easy because he didn’t have 3 cold babies to worry about.

But then, there was the view.

I have no words to adequately describe the view from up there on the bridge. On the left, dark ominous clouds and a layer of thick, terrifying fog that covered the ocean. And on the right, like a light shining out of the foggy darkness was the bay area skyline that takes your breath away.

I don’t know how we got to the end of the bridge but right as we did, the rain stopped, the sky cleared up and it was back to blue everywhere. It was like a special sunshiney Sausalito welcome after a very harrowing ordeal.

We made the final 2 miles to Sausalito in silence, partly because that last stretch was incredibly beautiful and partly because no one could muster the energy for words.

Meanwhile, Finn had fallen asleep snuggled up next to Kirsten in the little trailer. I’m sure there’s a metaphor in there somewhere for how God takes us through the storms in life, plus it was the most adorable sight to see Kirsten patting her baby’s sleepy head.

This is us having survived the craziest adventure yet.

IMG_6592

travel

Paris with Finn + Theo

Yeah, so turns out that it’s true, Paris really is ridiculously beautiful. Very much so.

paris us-2

From London’s St Pancras train station, we boarded the Eurostar on a 2.5 hour ride to Gare Du Nord in Paris. If you’re planning to travel on the Eurostar, I discovered that the earlier you book this, the cheaper it is. I priced the trip at about £40 several months back but I dawdled on it and when I finally made the booking a week prior to leaving, it was more than double. Urgh. So book fast once your dates are set.

Other than the fact that Theo spent most of the ride either yelling for food, eating the food or looking displeased that there was no more food, it all went rather well.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We spent most of our time in Paris exploring the cobbled streets of the city, walking from Notre Dame Cathedral to Pont Des Arts, to the Pantheon, circling around for lunch at Latin Quarters, down to the Louvre, to Champs Elysees and then back to the Eiffel Tower, where our apartment was.

paris 2-2

boys paris-2

finn paris-2

paris 3-2

It was a lot of ground to cover but I liked how being in Paris felt like a walk in the park. None of the madness of Oxford Circus, no shoving or jostling or getting tsked for slowing down and taking a knee because Finn wanted to look at squirrels.

We’d take the time to explore gorgeous Parisian bookstores like this one.

shakespeare and co-2

shakespeare and co 2-2

shakespeare and co 3-2

We’d take time to run after birds or sit by the pavement on a bridge to listen to this guy singing a most soulful french number.

boys paris 2-2

Oh oh here’s a story of the bridge – I was snapping some photos of Finn, who was dutifully flashing his blue steel face for the camera. There was a Japanese girl next to us who squealed something about kawaii when she saw him, and then not-so-discreetly snapped a photo as well. I typically don’t mind strangers taking photos of the kids when they’re squealy kawaii Japanese girls but Finn immediately flashed her a deadly side stare, upon which she decided to make a quick getaway.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Blue steel does not mess around.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We managed to spend some time at the Louvre, which was a fabulous way to spend an afternoon. Even baby Theo had a great time pretending like he was a work of art.

louvre-2

How much for the interactive masterpiece hanging by the railing? Priceless. I’d take this one any day.

theo louvre-2

And the Eiffel tower? Quite breathtaking, especially at night.

eiffel tower_

I feel like I need to spend some more time with this city at some point, but for a first visit, it was everything I hoped it would be. Plus a little bit more. :)

travel

London with Finn + Theo: Days 2-3

On Days 2 and 3 in London, the kids were still getting up at 4 in the morning, which meant that we got an early start to our days in the city. Thanks to the time zones, we seem to get up much earlier on holidays than we do back home and it’s nice, waking up before dawn in a new city, spending a few moments listening to the still of the morning and taking it all in.

There was a starbucks around the corner so I threw on a coat over my sweats (one of the benefits of being somewhere cold is that I get to wear my jammies out onto the street and not have anyone notice) and hopped over for a bacon butty + a latte. I love discovering hip brunch places with fancy sandwiches but sometimes, on cold, quiet mornings, I like how a starbucks breakfast anywhere in the world makes me feel like home.

Slow mornings watching the sunrise with my babies next to me, that’s one of my favourite parts of the trip.

First stop for the day was the British Museum. Ranked the top attraction on tripadvisor, we had to stop by for a visit. Also, it’s free, as are all the other museums in London.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

There’s lots to explore at the museum and it would have been nice to spend more time wandering the halls but with the 2 babies getting precariously close to very rare and priceless sculptures, we were out in 2 hours. I think Truett + Kirsten would have enjoyed it a little more. I’m penciling it in for the next trip.

Meanwhile, Finn and Theo were very thrilled to discover a playground at Bloomsbury Square, right next to the museum.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Theo: The best thing about having a big brother? Shoulder massages.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Theo: For that delightful massage, I shall offer to eat your nose.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Finn: Ok baby, listen up, here’s the plan…

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Theo: What in the world kind of ridiculous plan is that? No.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We had afternoon tea at Bea’s of Bloomsbury (excellent scones, cakes were ok), did a spot of shopping at Oxford Street, and rounded off the day with dinner at Chinatown.

***

The third day was our designated theatre day. The husband and I had a matinee show for Book of Mormon booked and my mom would go for Lion King in the evening with a friend. This turn taking system was necessary because babies.

But first, a trip to Borough Market in the morning.

I have a little secret affair with food markets. All the pretty stalls with so much food just casually saying hi and sometimes giving me a playful wink. Salt beef sandwiches! Crackling roast pork! Pan seared scallops topped with bacon bits! Paella! Authentic malaysian curry! Fresh juices! I was feeling a little ill so I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted to but my brain was all like “GIVE ME ALL OF THE FOOD!!”

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

This place was baby Theo’s idea of heaven. He just toddled around pointing at everything, yelling “EAT EAT EAT!!!” This boy knows what’s what – he’s a true blue foodie.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We had some very good coffee from Monmouth, a little coffee place just across the street. Not quite Melbourne coffee but one of the best we had in London.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

From the market, we took a stroll over to London Bridge (the inferior kind of meh regular bridge) and made our way along the river to the much nicer Tower Bridge. It was a lovely walk on a lovely morning.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I suppose I’ll wrap up with a final word on the Book of Mormon, which was fantastic, by the way. I think this is now my favourite musical of all time, beating out both Wicked and Lion King. It is extremely politically incorrect, borderline offensive and not suitable for everyone but I found the script to be superb, the pacing was tight, the songs were masterclass and the wit was absolutely spot on.

travel

London with Finn + Theo

We’re back from London after a 10-day trip with the 2 babies.

So here’s the story to this London trip. Tickets to U2’s innocence + experience tour opened up for sale sometime in December last year. Why is this important? One thing you need to know about the husband is that he is the biggest U2 fan this side of the world and right at the very top of his bucket list is to go for a U2 concert. U2 has never toured in Singapore and if this mountain wasn’t going to come to us, we were going to have to go to the mountain. Sort of. We had to make this happen and there wasn’t very much time to plan because tickets to U2 concerts sell out within minutes. After some skillful computer clicking, we scored 2 tickets, which meant that of course, a trip to the UK was in order.

The timing of this was unfortunate in that Truett had to stay behind for school. Kirsten decided that if her precious big brother wasn’t going to go, she wouldn’t go either.

“Are you sure??” I asked her several times as I was booking the flight tickets. “This is London and Paris and Disneyland.”

“If kor kor can’t go, I will stay with him so he won’t be sad.” So she did. 1000 points for solidarity.

***

It’s our first visit to Europe and London was the perfect spot to kick things off because underneath this city girl exterior is exactly the inside of a city girl. I like being in a big city where there’s lots to do – getting lost in the crowd, discovering lovely little spots that make the place my own.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

st james park

The first 2 days in a new city, I like to make like a tourist and visit all the highlights before going off the beaten track.

Day one, both babies were jetlagging and very awake at 4 in the morning so we got in an early start to Buckingham Palace. Before we left, I had told Kirsten that we were going to visit the Queen’s home and she made me practice curtseying to the Queen just in case I saw her. I said this was very unlikely, “practically zero chance of this happening” were my exact words, but she made me practice anyway. And she’s right. One must always be prepared in case once meets the Queen.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We got to Buckingham Palace but we didn’t get to meet the Queen. Or the Princess. Or even one of her chambermaids. Being the lowly peasants that we are, we just stood outside the gate waiting for the change of guard to happen.

No disrespect to Her Royal Majesty, but it’s horribly boring, by the way. We stood for an hour and a half getting squeezed by a million tourists, thinking that there would be some fanfare or dancing horses or something that would make this worthwhile. After like an eternity, we finally saw the top of some furry hats as a bunch of guards marched past. Okay, the hats were pretty cool, and it’s what I really wanted to see anyway, but the marching seemed very ordinary. All in all, I’d consider this a very mild success. If I could have touched the furry hat, it would have been a much bigger success.

After the new guards marched in, we tried to exit the crowd, but we were told to wait till the old guards marched out, so we had to stand there for another 20 minutes to see the tops of more furry hats.

Baby Theo was not pleased, I can tell you that. He spent the entire time yelling/demanding hi fives from strangers. Baby does not understand the importance of royalty.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We left Buckingham Palace and crossed over to St James’ Park, which was lovely in the fall with all the crunchy autumn leaves and cute little ducks. And squirrels! There were lots of squirrels just running around having a good time.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

With so much space to explore, these 2 little squirrels had a good time too.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

From there, we walked to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the River Thames for a view of the London Eye. We could probably have hopped onto the tube to cut down on the walking but we had beautiful weather and also, we stopped to peer down the long flight of steps to the tube station before deciding that one of us would very likely injure something if we had to lug the double stroller all the way down and back up again. For most of the trip, we either hiked our way around the city or called for an uber when we were too exhausted. Most of the uber rides ranged from £5-10, which wasn’t much more than paying 3 adult fares on the tube.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We also found a promo code for Gett, a London-based uber alternative, which gave us another £30 of free rides around the city. Sweet.

In the evening, my mom babysat the babies while we went off for a truly epic U2 concert at the O2 arena. The husband was in U2 heaven and even for a moderate U2 fan like me, it was an incredible performance.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Quite a way to start off our first day in London, if I might say so myself. I think I rather like this city.