We made it!
Welcome to London, ya'll!
I snapped that photo of Kyla earlier this morning as we were arriving at LHR... or London Heathrow... as she opened her United States Passport to scan it for the first time as she entered this new country. I should point out that it's not the first foreign country she's visited. Once, when she was very small, I think about two years old, we crossed over a bridge to visit Mexico while in South Texas, but this time is clearly different. She's a young woman now. Pretty independent. With her own passport and her own thoughts on a trip she wanted to make because for her, London means something.
And so, here we are. London. Staying at the Hilton Tower Bridge, which, by the way, is a great Hilton Hotel with an amazing team!
I'm writing you this from the Executive Lounge at the Hilton, where I'm sipping an OJ and having breakfast. It's just past 8:30 in the morning, local time, or 3:30 in the morning on the East Coast. I've more or less been kicked out of our room while Kyla takes a post-travel shower. I get it. She's never traveled quite this far before, so she's probably feeling icky, and so I'm here reading the Daily Mail while she's getting her shower on. The food is not-dissimilar to the food we have in the states. Some charcuterie-type meats. Some sausages. Eggs which look remarkably white. Croissants and scones and such. Toast. No bagels, though. Oh, and fruit. I don't know what I was expecting, but it seems that, at least in London so far, breakfast food is the same, more or less, as what we'd have in the US. They also have cereal, although the Sugar Smacks aren't called Sugar Smacks.
Kyla will be good to go if and when she comes down here.
Oh, the view? Well... here's what I see.
They call that.. the SHARD as in SHARD OF GLASS. It's about 67 floors they say... the tallest building in London. I'm thinking we've gotta try to visit whilst we're here.
Oh! I wanted to tell you that - on the sage advice of Sir Tony Coles, we traveled from Heathrow to the Hilton via one of the famed London Black Cabs. These Hackney Carriages are pretty amazing... and these drivers have intense knowledge of the City, don't need maps or an app to get around... and they are pretty amazing. AND... they're easy to find at Heathrow. I had no idea where to go to get an Uber, truth be told... and i'm glad we hopped into one of these as the sun came up in London. They are so historic, so a part of the history of London... and the drivers really are amazing.
#TobyTravelTip: Get about 100 POUNDS in cash if you take a cab to London from LRH. I think our fare was about 85 pounds. Drivers like cash... and they like cash tips. If you have to pay by card, they're cool with that, but they don't get paid on it right away... so pull out some cash - and some cash for a tip.
It's Christmas morning in London. There are families in here. Stockings hanging on the doors of guest rooms. I've been in town for just a few hours and have to tell you, I'm a bit sleepy. As I finish this OJ, I have to tell you I think I'm going back to the room for a minute, and I can't promise you that I won't pass out for a bit of a nap... It feels good here. Festive. People are happy and I'm at peace. And it's not even 1000 local time. We've got so many adventures ahead... but first, I'm gonna go take just a little rest... for a few little minutes.
Just a few.
Merry Christmas, er, Happy Christmas!
PS: I want to point out that I'm a Hilton Honors member, and that our room in London is being paid for with points I earned as a Hilton Honors member. These sorts of points programs are amazing... and I'm thankful I held on to my points for as long as I did because this... is the perfect thing to spend loot on whilst here. Hilton is an amazing brand, with amazing hotels... and i'm honored to be a guest here. Thank you to Hilton and American Express... this is going to be an amazing trip... but just let me get this nap in first...
... More to come!