The Adventure Begins
After we decided where we wanted to go, figuring out what to do next was the interesting part. Luckily, Snoopy is a master at research. Almost too good for his own good.
We decided on London and Paris fairly quickly and Snoopy got started on his research. We were not sure where our travels were going to take us, and London and Paris are two of the most visited cities in the world. We knew that we may never travel again after this. Luckily we were wrong.
How do you decide where to go in London?
London is big. I mean, really big. There are the obvious places you have to see such as: Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, and the Tower of London. We knew most of the places we wanted to see were in the Westminster area, so we chose a hostel in the Westminster area near Victoria station. The most important realization we had to come to is that we were not going to see it all. Prioritization is key.
Snoopy, through his research, had learned about a unique experience – the Ceremony of the Keys, or Locking of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. Because we had to get approved by the monarchy to do this, the dates of our trip heavily relied on their response. We were thankfully approved, and our dates were set for the beginning of October. The beginning of October was great, it was just after the big tourist season which meant the prices of everything was lower. It was cool, and rainy (but it’s London, what do you expect?) but not unreasonable.
After reading about walking tours, we decided to select historic neighborhoods to do walking visits, and the sites within them. We had legs right? At the time, I was practicing for half marathons and he was just one of those strange people that loved to run, so walking around was never a problem for us. This included areas like: Westminster, Whitehall, Chelsea, and Notting Hill. We ended up making an unplanned visit to Islington, which resulted in a last minute tour of Emirates Stadium.
How do you decide what to do in Paris?
Paris was also difficult. We were touristy here and chose to keep many of the must-see items on the top of our priority list. This included the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre Dame with walking tours of important arrondissements of Paris such as: the Latin Quarter, Ile de Cite, Montmartre, and Morais. We also decided to venture out of the city to visit the Palace of Versailles.
Unplanned visits in our walking tours of the neighborhood resulted in some great sites that we didn’t really expect to see, such as: the Shoah Museum, St. Chapelle, Sacre Coeur, and the great Paris Mosque.
Everyone talks about the perception of rude Parisians. I had no idea what to expect, but I wanted to make sure I came prepared for the both of us. Between the two of us, I tend to do better with languages. I purchased a few French books and attempted to learn French. This turned out to be a funny endeavor because I knew enough Spanish that I would get French and Spanish mixed up and it turned into a hilarious mumbo jumbo of Spanish and French!
Ultimately, what it boiled down to was that we had a limited time in each city. We had to come prepared with an approach that was realistic. We had items we had to do, paired with items we wanted to do, and items we could do if we had time. Once we established the sites we had to see and things to do, we estimated how long it would take to do each and padding that time by a couple of hours. That gave us a good guide to adding in what other items we could do, then keeping the extras in our pocket – like the visit to Emirates stadium in Islington.