Sunday, January 4, 2015


The beauty of Brussels is not outmatched by its convenient proximity to the cities of Western Europe.  And naturally after sampling the haute culture of Paris, a quick trip across the Chunnel was in order. I was so proud of having booked all of our travel arrangements myself, and a short train ride later we found ourselves in the Tube, trying to plot out a route to our boutique hotel in Kensington. It took us a few tries but in the end, we found it. We were so thrilled when we saw the hotel, with its perfectly manicured, quaint facade complete with meticulously tended flower boxes on every window. Check in was uncomplicated and we dashed up to the top floor to drop off our bags (no roller suitcases this weekend!) and scope out the new, albeit temporary, digs.

Boy, were we shocked! Somehow we were completely naïve to the size of things in London. Each of us had to take a turn to get through the door, which promptly led us to our first encounter with a keycard light switch. Once we had figured out that in order to turn the light on, the key card had to be in the slot under the main switch, we could see how truly tiny the room really was. One had to stand at the foot of the second twin bed and turn 180 degrees to enter the bathroom, where yet another 180 was then required to close the bathroom pocket door. There was a small dormer window over the narrow path between the bunks which one person could occupy at a time before quickly jumping into her respective place of repose in order to allow her traveling companion to follow suit on the other side of the shoebox.

But it was cleaned and had everything we needed with the added bonus of a super cute storefront, safe location, and proximity to the Tube so all in all we were quite content. We stopped at a tourist shop to buy Mom's requisite souvenir Mind the Gap socks before piling onto a red double decker London bus for a hop-on, hop-off tour, complete with proportionate eye-rolling on my part.

Mind you, it was August and sunny, and we were on the upper deck of a topless red bus for the better part of an afternoon, but I think I may be the only person who has ever gotten lobster level sunburned in Jolly Old! I mean, we are talking sunglasses lines and all. I guess that is what I get for going against my gut and brazenly being a tourist, apologetic or not. 

We had a great time, nonetheless, because in the end, when you're traveling, no one else knows you, which sort of frees you up to do whatever you want. And so even though I was not only very obviously an American tourist (despite having spent the last four months on the Continent, trying to blend in), but a very red one. We saw the Crown Jewels and the Tower of London, did a river cruise of the Thames, but what topped it all was last minute tickets to Mamma Mia in the West End. 

It was a short two days, but very memorable - after all, who could forget eating baked beans for breakfast?! And on our last road trip, we sang along to the entire Broadway soundtrack