Tag Archive: London

Mar 27 2014

From California to the United Kingdom (and some observations)

Golden Gate Bride

So I have come to the conclusion that I am in much need of a new post on my site. It’s been far to long but I do have a few excuses. Work is keeping me busy and I have been traveling again. This time, I started my holiday off with a short weekend trip to San Francisco with my friend Jason.

Mondavi Vinyard

We had a brilliant time for our four day weekend and visited most of the staples for a weekend to San Francisco and also enjoyed the Walt Disney family Museum and a day trip to Napa Valley where we got to enjoy several vineyard tours around wine country. We had such a great weekend away and couldn’t have asked for any better weather to enjoy the city. Having a multi day transportation pass made the trip a breeze and is the only way to go if you are going to a major city with mass transit.

IMG_20140311_182700After a short stop at home for a week, it was time for me to hop on my first flight with Virgin Atlantic and on a 747-400 to fly back to London for an almost two week adventure back in the city and to Wales with my friend Sawyer who had never been out of the USA before. It’s always great to get back to London and visit friends but, it is also fun to take someone there for the first time and show them the ropes. We had a pretty active schedule leaving the hotel in the morning and not returning until late in the evening. We did almost all of the museums and even took in a concert with OneRepublic at The Roundhouse which was simply amazing. Another fun adventure involved Comedy Night on the Phil and Alice show with BBC Radio 1 which I was able to win tickets for in a random lottery draw which was a great time and a great way for me to see in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. So our days were very packed full of activities.

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Some other highlights were spending a day in Cardiff to see the Doctor Who Experience and then just catching up with good friends and enjoying the atmosphere of just being in London. We both also took advantage of getting some great European fashion to add to our wardrobes. Weather was really nice with only one evening with a slight mist though the temperatures did start to drop towards the end of the trip. but overall it was great and I know Sawyer had a great first visit to London and I am sure that he will be going back soon. I can’t wait to figure out my next trip to the United Kingdom as well.

Some things that I did learn or learned to appreciate more this trip:

  1. Virgin Atlantic is simply amazing. I don’t know why I haven’t flown them until now but, I can’t see any other airline in my future for going to the United Kingdom ever again. Really great service an amazing product.
  2. There is such a thing as too much Nando’s. Yes I know I love the place but I’m actually ok with the only three times we did go.
  3. We need Costa Coffee Pret-A-Manger and Nando’s here in Orlando. Starbucks can’t even come close to Costa. That is all.
  4. Between the Underground and the DLR, there is no need for taxi or a car. I wish we had more of this here in America.
  5. VAT Refunds add up quick. If you are going to be making larger purchases beyond say a postcard or small gift, get the VAT refund form. You can claim it back when leaving and it adds up very quickly how much you can get back. This also makes the clothes or things you were going to be actually in some cases way cheaper than if you bought them in the United States.
  6. Pre-Book museum or tour tickets if possible. I heard there was a new Bond in Motion exhibit opening our last day in London. I hoped online to book tickets in advice for opening day. Upon arrival to the museum, the line to get tickets if you didn’t pre-book went around 3 blocks. We simply walked in. If you can pre-plan and know you are going to do something, just get it out-of-the-way. It also makes it easier to spread the cost of the trip out as you will have already paid for your tickets before the trip depending on when you book.
  7. Enter to win free tickets. The BBC offers free tickets to many of their shows and concerts. All you have to do is fill out a form to apply. Some of these shows include concerts with the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Rod Stewart. It’s free to apply and whats the worse that will happen, you will either get to see a free concert or you wont. Doesn’t hurt to apply.
  8. Mobile Phones. T-Mobile is great in that if you are on the Simple Choice plans, you get free international roaming for data in certain countries. This is nice but, it is really slow. Like worse than dial-up. If you have a spare phone that’s unlocked, pickup a local pre-paid SIM card. The one I use is £15 for unlimited data, 3000 texts and 300 minutes. This gives me a local number for friends to reach me and high-speed data for posting photos or sending emails. Well worth it.

I’ll leave it there with my list for now, but I wanted to hit a few of the big ones on my mind. Now, here are the links to the photos from the trips. Until next time.

 

San Francisco London and Cardiff

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2014/03/from-california-to-the-united-kingdom-and-some-observations/

Sep 14 2013

London Update – 2013

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Well, it has been almost a week since I touched back down here in the United States after what I can only describe as a much needed and much enjoying trip back to the United Kingdom and London specifically. To start off the week, it was simply some of the best weather I could have ever asked for. Temperatures was in the upper 70’s and 80’s and the sun was out for almost the entire time with only one morning of rain the entire trip. I honestly cannot complain about it at all considering the last time I was in London, it was the middle of winter in January 2004.

IMG_20130902_143211This trip was a much needed return to the city I had grown to love over three enjoyable Winter Terms at Eckerd College with some really great friends. For those that have been following my blog and website for a while, you will know about my previous London updates. My past visits and extended stays in London have allowed me to experience a lot of amazing and exciting museums around London and the United Kingdom. This trip though, I wanted to do something different. I made it a goal to visit some great friends that I have made over the years and to do some activities that I haven’t done before or something that might not be the usual must do in London.

IMG_20130901_175914Where do I start? Well, the first day I was pretty jet lagged having not been able to get much rest on the plane over. For those that don’t know, I have never been able to sleep well on a plane. I know I travel a lot but, I just can’t do it. So I basically stayed up for the entire day and just hit the ground running. First stop of the trip, visiting Startford Centre to get my SIM card for my mobile. One cannot be a local with out a local phone number right? Joking aside, this was actually fun to do while waiting for my hotel to open up. I got a chance for a quick peek at the Olympic Park and some of the local shops. Next was a quick stop at the hotel to clean up and then it was off to Spitalfields Market, Old Spitalfields Market Market and Brick Lane. I did this on recommendation of a friend as a chance to see what the typical East Ender does on a Sunday. All I can say is wow. Sensory overload! So much going on here but, it really was a neat experience and lots of little things to buy and experience. After this, it was near dinner time so I figured I would hit my all time favorite in London, Nando’s. I can’t say enough about how amazing this chain is. Mark this is stop 1 of 4 for the trip. By this point, I had been up for almost 36 hours so it was time to head back to crash before one of my most looked forward to tours of the trip.

IMG_20130902_092605So Monday arrived and I was up bright and early, armed with my Costa Coffee and off to the BBC to tour the BBC Broadcasting House. This is a newer tour as the BBC just moved the last of it’s operations out of Television Centre and in to Broadcasting House to complete the modernization of the networks. This was a pretty cool tour. I would actually go to say it was probably better than the CNN tour I did in February when I went to Atlanta. It was cool to see one of the world’s largest newsrooms in action and then to see where the BBC Radio teams broadcast across the world. Another bonus was seeing Lady Gaga in passing. The only thing I would have loved to do on the tour would be to tour Radio 1 which I listen to all the time but unfortunately, that isn’t offered at this time. Maybe next trip. The rest of the day was spent bouncing around the town and walking through some great high street shops where I managed to find some nice new outfits from Topman. Full day overall with lots of exploring including a nice surprise meet up with my friend Vitor from the Disney Magic.

IMG_20130903_103314Tuesday was equally as full as Monday with a morning tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, the Churchill War Rooms, and more general exploring before meeting up with Dave and Kevin for drinks and dinner. Let’s start with Buckingham Palace. I feel like I’m about to make a Doctor Who comment but, it really is bigger on the inside. The view from outside really only gives your a glimpse at how massive this place is. This is the first time I had ever toured the State Rooms as in the past, HRH Queen Elizabeth has been in residence so it was not open to the public. The history inside the walls and the special displays on The Queen’s Coronation were actually really interesting to read and see. The amount of tradition that continues through the centuries is really something amazing. It’s really amazing to see that protocol is still followed after all these years. After the Palace, it was off to the Churchill War Rooms and British Museum again and then by the time I was able to relax, it was time for drinks and dinner with Kevin and Dave. I don’t think I could have packed more in to this day.

IMG_20130904_124324Wednesday marked the last of the pre-planned days I had this trip. I slept in a little bit and then headed north to Startford where I did a walking tour of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the town itself. While the Olympic venues are still in the process of being converted from the 2012 Olympic Games, parts of the park were already open to the public. What was neat about the particular tour I did was that it really focused on the impact of the Olympic Games had on the transformation of London’s East End in to a new up and coming community. It was also really neat to walk along some of the canals that go to the Thames and to see some of the more unique living locations on canal boats and some really cool loft looking flats. The transformation will do a lot for the community and is really neat to see. After the tour, I headed over to Greenwich using the Emirates Air Line and then exploring the National Maritime Museum before having Nando’s again and then heading to walk along the Thames at sunset and enjoy the night life.

Thursday, my friend Ben came up from Brighton for the morning which was fun. We explored Hyde Park and then walked Oxford Street and looked at some tradition London High Street shops like Harrods’s and Selfridges. After Ben headed back to Brighton, I went to see the real MI6 and then headed to Westfield Stratford to see the One Direction movie, This is Us. I will be honest, this was actually much better than I expected it to be. Just some more exploring the town before heading to the hotel to crash.

IMG_20130906_181415Friday was the only day of rain I had the entire trip. And luckily for me, it only lasted for the morning. I took the time to explore Tate Modern and The London Transport Museum before heading back to Canary Wharf and visiting the Museum of London Docklands which is something new for me. By this point, the sun had come out and the clouds cleared so I took the advice of Kevin and headed to The Shard and took in the View from The Shard. The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe and offers sweeping views of London from over 1,000 feet up. If you are visiting London and have a clear day, this is a must do. I spent a good hour up here just taking in the view.

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At this point, I was in to the home stretch of my trip and decided to head back to the great Upper Deck SE1 that was suggested by Kevin for Tuesday night and enjoy another great night and a few pints along the Thames reflecting on the amazing week I had back in London. Once the sun finally set over the Thames, I headed back to Canary Wharf one last time and had a great Japanese dinner at Wagamama which has got to be my second top dine in chain in England behind Nando’s. This was the perfect evening to end the trip on with great temperatures and clear sky.

So as you can tell, it was a full trip packed in to 6 full days in London. I am so happy that I made the trip back and I am already planning my return for Spring 2014. Thanks again to all my good friends that made it a great trip. Sorry we couldn’t see each other more and for those that I missed, there will be time in the Spring. See you all again soon across the pond!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2013/09/london-update-2013/

Jan 19 2008

Mamma Mia!

So I just got wind of this, Mamma Mia, the musical I saw many times in London is coming to theaters this summer! I am now officially pumped for a musical turn movie that I might actually enjoy. Looks like a very strong cast and should be pretty good. Just have to wait now!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2008/01/mamma-mia/

Jan 16 2004

It’s Friday!

Friday continues to be a busy day for me here at NASN. I worked more on the Super Bowl XXXVIII party plans by calling down the list of sports bars and pubs that we have. The goal is to find out which ones are offering a party and arrange to get some of our information at the parties by asking them to display flyers or allow us to offer prizes for a drawing. Got a hold of a few but most were either leave a message or call them back next week. This has been the bulk of my work today. I also joined Graham in attempting to fix the television reception in the conference room but a new cable might be the best bet.

Also, today should be the last day of the internet address shortage. BT should be here early Monday to set us up with more addresses to use. We shall see if such a thing happens judging from the delays they have left NASN in the past. Now, it’s the weekend and I’m out of the office soon. Peace.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2004/01/it%e2%80%99s-friday/

Jan 15 2004

Busy day

My morning started off on a long note. First, I had to wait as two busses showed up at the bus stop but were full to the max causing those of us waiting in the windy cold to wait for another bus. 20 minutes later, I finally made it on a bus and off to Canning Town Underground station. I was not out of the woods yet! I arrived to the platform but the first train was full to the brim just like the bus! Argh this was starting to get annoying. I made it on the second train and had to stand hunched over right next to the door. For those that have never seen the London Underground during rush hour, picture a sardine can where you can’t move until the doors open and some gets off. Really it is interesting. I survived the commute thanks to iPod (the best investment EVER). Finally got to work around 09.15, an hour and twenty minutes AFTER I left my house.

Once at work, I had to unlock everything as I was the first person here. I got settled in and proceeded to finish up the newsletter I was working on for the customer service center before working more on contest entry data. Next, Heidi gave me my next project for the Super Bowl coverage which I will be working on more tomorrow and next week. Other than those, not much else today. Our internet issue should be fixed on Monday so no more sharing addresses and what not. YAY!

>>Download Weekly Update Bulletin 78 (PDF)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2004/01/busy-day/

Jan 14 2004

Newsletter Time

Today I arrived in the office fairly early. Spent most of the morning answering phones and e-mails as Heidi is still out sick and there really isn’t that much to do this week it seems. After lunch, I began work on our weekly bulletin for the customer service team in Scotland. This will be the second one that I have helped on but probably the first that I really did most of the copy writing for it. Most of the sports coverage for next week will include a lot of NHL Hockey and NCAA Basketball LIVE games.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2004/01/newsletter-time/

Jan 13 2004

New Role

Today my internship took on a new role. I am now dong some IT work for NASN here in the London office. First on the docket, repair the printer settings on two machines so they can use the network printer. Two, tackle the virus on a computer. Three, set up the new BT Internet settings once they arrive from BT. So my role just keeps expanding as you can see. Today I started my normal role as the intern by entering more names in to the contest database from a set of e-mails that arrived over the last couple of days. Other than those things, I have had a bit of downtime. Tasks come and go so it’s hard to just plan on dong something.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2004/01/new-role-2/

Jan 12 2004

Slow Monday

Not much to report today. I wrote out the newsletter blurb for The American Hour and then took some t-shirts to the post for the call center reps up in Scotland. That’s really about it today other than answering phones and making tea for meetings. Heidi, my supervisor was out sick today so it will be hard to say if she will be back tomorrow.

>>Download American Hour Newsletter Clips (MS Word)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2004/01/slow-monday/

Jan 09 2004

First Friday

Today is my first Friday here at NASN. It is a very slow and quiet day. Heidi and Roger are both out until Monday so it is just the two interns holding down the fort. This morning I finished doing the data entry project from yesterday. I had to enter in the addresses off of entry cards for a drawing we are doing that includes a trip for two to the NHL All Stars Game in MN. I also completed the newsletter I was working on for the customer service center. Aside from those, I am just taking it easy and catching up on e-mails and watching the network on the TV.

I also got a chance to do some technical work and solve a continuing printer issue for Alan. Needless to say he is all up and running again. Round up the day with the small task of going to the post office to ship out some packages to our call center with prizes for contests.

>>Download Weekly Update Bulletin 77 (PDF)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2004/01/first-friday/

Jan 08 2004

Day 2

Well today was my first full day at the office. I left my flat at 8.00 am this morning and began the commute on a cold and wet day here in London. Arrived early so I stopped and got a coffe at Starbucks before headign to the office. Quiet day in the office today as two people were out traveling for work. I finalized the script for the next three American Hour radio shows and then proceeded to enter names and contact details in to a database for a NHL contest that is running here at NASN where the winner will win a trip to Minneapolis, MN (Yay Hometown!) to see the All Star Game in February at the Xcel Energy Center. No chance to make tea today as I have been occupied doing typing most of the day. So far so good.

>>Download American Hour Scripts (MS Word)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.webbyaquatics.com/archives/2004/01/day-2/

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