Buckingham Palace

On the morning of our third day in London, we decided to see Buckingham Palace.

Before each trip we take, I google, read, study and ask questions and consider. I look at maps and learn train routes. I memorize the method and route from the airport to the hotel and I make sure to have options in mind. (My husband, on the other hand, occasionally asks me, “When are we leaving again?” But I digress.) Other than making a hotel reservation, we make no concrete plans. We wing it.

So, Buckingham Palace may or may not have been visited by the Tumbleweed Tourists when we made our very first trip to London ever last November. I mean, I knew it was there. But it wasn’t at the top of my list.

We decided to Uber to Buckingham Palace and had a wonderful driver from Poland who engaged us in delightful conversation about his homeland, why he moved to London, why everyone moves to London, and why we’ve only met about three folks in three days who were actually British. Eventually he says, “You’re going to see the changing of the guard?”

We didn’t know anything about when the changing of the guard happens and honestly had not considered checking into it. But there we were, at 10:30 am, about to arrive at the palace where the changing of the guard happens every day. At 11:00 am.

Of course, as it turned out, the changing of the guard of Buckingham Palace was the highlight of our visit. I don’t care how many tourists are mobbed around those gates, this is a show worthy of the watching.

Takeaway

The changing of the guard happens every day at 11:00 am at Buckingham Palace. If you walk up Birdcage Walk from Parliament, you will pass the guard’s museum on your left. If you time it right, you can watch the Queen’s Guard Band gather in formation and march to the palace whilst playing lively tunes. It’s totally worth looking like a tourist running alongside them with your phone in the air to capture video which you will show to everyone you know for weeks.

A Sense of Paris

We made our first trip to Paris last spring and we hit the jackpot weather-wise. A light breeze, 70 degrees and sunny in the daytime and 60 degrees at night. Every single day. At night we slept with our windows wide open.

I spent hours and hours in the weeks prior to our trip reading about Paris and trying to learn a little French. And surprisingly, we needed more than a little French at times. But mostly it was ‘Bonjour,’ pointing at what we wanted, and ‘Merci!’ We tried though. We really tried to blend in.

My husband wears a ball cap pretty much every where we go, but I absolutely insisted he not wear a ball cap in Paris. We compromised and I bought him a newsboy cap and he looked so darn cute in it. And in fact he really blended in, which of course was my goal. I believe our mission was accomplished. It was a wonderful trip.

Takeaway

1. Learn a little French and give it your best to use it. Most people in most cultures at the very least appreciate the gesture. And then, realizing your French is hopeless, they will immediately switch to English if they can. Some will find you amusing. Some will say in their head, ‘Sit down before you hurt yourself.’ But most of the time they will greet you warmly and do their best to help you.

2. Blend in. In any culture, observe and emulate. But especially in Paris. Parisians take pride in their culture and you will be appreciated because you took the made the effort.

Pictured is my husband in his newsboy hat.

Sunrise, Sunset

If there’s one gift God gives the mountainless, it’s sunsets. I was raised near a large desert mountain and I don’t think I realized until I was twenty how amazing sunsets can be. Over a mountain, the sun just drops out of sight. But when the sun falls over the vast flatness of the flyover plains or an ocean with a few clouds streaking through the sky, they are completely captivating. Sometimes I have the patience to stand and take ten or fifteen photos over a twenty minute period to get the perfect shot.

This one was taken at the Pacific Beach Pier near San Diego, California.

Above the Clouds

Once, several years ago, we took a road trip in Europe. We flew into Zurich, rented a car, and drove down into Italy, across to Slovenia, and on into Croatia. It was a wild ride and we did the entire trip in nine days. By the way, if you’ve never considered Croatia as a vacation destination, give it some serious thought. Croatia is every bit as beautiful as Italy and much less expensive. The people are very friendly and most speak some English. But I digress.

On the way north back to Zurich, as we approached the Alps, which we drove through heading south, we were diverted. There was road work. We were detoured over the Alps. We had been awake for probably 20 hours, we still had hours to go to get to Zurich, and it was 10 o’clock at night. We were seriously punch drunk. Again, I digress.

Within minutes we were a mile above the little village near the detour. A few minutes more and we were above the clouds. It’s a moment we could never recreate. It was amazing.

I love to be above the clouds when flying. It’s bright and sunny and otherworldly up there no matter how rainy, stormy, or icy it is below. What an amazing thing that man figured out how to fly. What a privilege that we live in this century! We fly! We’re flying! We are flyers!!

New York, New York

We laughed, we cried, nobody died… today I drove a car in Manhattan for the first time. Now I’m a Bourne Identity level driver, but the idea of driving in Manhattan definitely intimidated me. But I OWNED it. Lol. I made a u-turn in a two lane road filled with parked cars and traffic. No big deal. In New York City, you do what you gotta do. We made it, alive and unharmed, to the Museum of Natural History.

Takeaway

1. If you drive to the museum, there is a nice parking garage behind it. The entrance is on 81st Street. If you arrive from behind the main entrance, it’s an easy right turn.

2. Arrive early. That is all.

Pictured is my husband Skippy. He did NOT drive a car in Manhattan today. Just sayin’.