London experience a royal treat

?My feet hurt and I?m tired, but I?m in London and I?m loving every second!? My first journal entry from my trip to Europe last month pretty much says it all. My first international adventure wasn?t without setbacks or swollen feet, but it was an adventure that I will never forget.

The adventure began in the Wichita airport. It was a good thing I threw a deck of cards in my purse while packing because we spent some quality time at ICT as a result of an hour delay.

It was also a good thing I was wearing comfy shoes because that hour delay resulted in a nice run through the Atlanta airport?s international terminal.

Soon, though, I was on a huge airplane on my way to a country I had only dreamed of visiting before last September. I was on my way to London, the home of my favorite family (other than my own, of course): the royal family.

The overnight flight went by faster than I thought it would. I watched a few movies, ate a packaged airplane meal (believe it or not, I was really excited for that), and snuck a few (uncomfortable) hours of sleep in.

By the time we landed, I was so ready to get out and explore the city of London. But patience was a virtue on this trip, and I spent my first few hours in London waiting: waiting in line at customs, waiting for other groups to arrive, waiting for our tour director and so on.

Finally, though, I was out the door of Heathrow Airport and riding a bus on the left side of the road (something I never quite got used to). We went straight to our hotel, which was located in Croydon, a suburb of London.

After meeting up with the rest of our group who had taken an earlier flight and waiting some more, we ate supper and took our first tube?the London subway system?ride into the city.

Our first stop was Covent Garden, a quaint market district in London. Here, I had my first encounter with the famed red telephone booths. About 15 pictures and three poses later, Claire and I discovered a Wi-Fi jackpot?a treasure for us international travelers?at the Apple store across the street.

After posting the classic telephone booth picture on Instagram, we walked on to Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, which is apparently pronounced like ?Lester? Square, and Piccadilly Circus, the London version of Times Square.

At this point, I hadn?t slept in a real bed for over 24 hours and I was ready for a good night?s sleep.

The next morning we took the bus into the city for a busy day full of sightseeing. As we crossed the River Thames and saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye for the first time, my heart skipped a beat and excitement flooded my body. I was in London, seeing with my own eyes sights I had only before seen in pictures and on TV.

As we came around the river, drove right past Big Ben and saw Westminster Abbey, my excitement grew. Then, when we stopped the bus and had some time to walk around the area, I nearly fainted as I walked the path Kate Middleton walked to enter Westminster Abbey and marry Prince William.

To completely understand how big of a moment this was for me, just know that I woke up at 4 a.m. to watch the royal wedding, I own two copies of the DVD of the royal wedding and I held my own personal royal baby watch party when Prince George was born. I?m a big fan.

I was still in royal awe as we climbed back on the bus and continued our guided tour. We made a stop at St. Paul?s Cathedral, where Princess Diana?s wedding took place. Had I been alive, I would have probably been just as excited about that wedding, too. After a quick picture on the famous steps, which are also featured in ?Mary Poppins.?

We had some free time in the city after the guided tour was finished, so our Kansas group ate some authentic fish and chips at Sherlock Holmes Pub before heading back to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. We spent the rest of the afternoon browsing the various towers-turned-museums inside, including a viewing of the crown jewels and exhibits about the torture that took place inside the tower.

Later, after supper, we braved the tube again in order to take a ride on the London Eye. The view from our gondola as we slowly made our way around the 443 foot-tall Ferris wheel was breathtaking. We even got a glimpse of Buckingham Palace, which was closed to tourists due to preparations for the queen?s birthday celebrations.

As we headed back to our hotel that night via the tube, I realized that in only a little more than a day, I had fallen in love with the city of London. It?s elegance and friendliness made it easy to love (the British accents were also an added bonus). It?s a city I hope to return to, and hopefully very soon.

While I had just had the time of my life in London, though, there were still many more adventures to be had. Check back to hear all about our time in Paris in my next column.

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