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London: ten days of celebrations (and administration!)

Weeks 22 and 23

sunny 25 °C
View Round the world... on bigtrip09's travel map.

We left Vancouver feeling a combination of excitement and concern about our two weeks at home. On one hand we had the opportunity to see our families and friends, and at the same time it was clearly going to be a strange experience, having to quickly adjust to life in London, then immediately leave again to pick up where we left off on our travels. As we sit in Heathrow waiting for our flight out to St Petersburg, we are in no doubt that coming home was well worth the diversion, but also looking forward to finding our rhythm again, and re-immersing ourselves in the incredible trip that's now halfway through.

Photo Highlights
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Tom and Caroline's don their ears before leaving for their Florida honeymoon

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An early 30th Birthday Celebration

London
Our time in London was planned around acquiring Visas for countries that require advance notice of our visit. Whilst all South and Central American countries happily processed our entrance at the border for a nominal fee, Russia, Mongolia, China and Vietnam required extensive paperwork, time, and a combined total of over £700. In return, Ali's passport is getting a little too crowded for comfort, but we should enjoy smooth border crossings for a while. The hours of waiting around embassies in Kensington also allowed time to explore Hyde Park on a sunny weekday, and reminded me how beautiful London can be in the summer.

Tom and Caroline's Wedding
The primary reason for our return to London was to attend a wedding in Chelmsford (the Visa requirements were a relatively late discovery). Tom had asked Ali to be his Best Woman, and we were delighted to be able to adapt our route slightly to be there and share such a special event with the beautiful couple. It was a picture-perfect wedding in every sense, and – once Ali had made her speech – we were able to enjoy our day immensely.

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Ali hones her Disney jokes

30th Birthday Celebration
Despite my best efforts to plan a flight over the international date line on 2nd September and skip the following day, my twenties are about over and I will be celebrating my 30th birthday on the Island of Olkhon, on Lake Baikal in Russia. As no one was prepared to join me for a drink there, Ali and George were kind enough to treat me and a few friends to a wonderful evening of homemade curries and a few beers. I enjoyed by second blueberry birthday cake of the week, and was able to catch up with friends, some of whom had travelled a long way!

Family Visits
In between Visas, weddings and seeing friends, we each managed a brief trip home, to Edinburgh and Whitby. It was great to be able to catch up with our families albeit briefly, and soften the blow of the end of trip slideshows by sharing some of the best stories and pictures so far. All of Ali's sisters were able to join her for her Edinburgh homecoming, and my Grandma happened to be visiting from Canada so we had a complete family reunion, and kicked off my 30th birthday celebrations.

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The Rennie Girls in Edinburgh

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Family gathering in Whitby

After a couple of nights in St Petersburg we're taking 7,865km of the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian train routes across to the east of China. The month-long journey inspired our year's travelling, and it should be a perfect way to transition back in to life on the move. With a bag full of Lonely Planets (taking the place of the camping kit, which we've left in London), we shouldn't be short of reading material nor inspiration for our adventures in Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Borneo, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji....

It was lovely yo see those of you we managed to meet up with, and we look forward to catching up again in the Spring.

Rowan

(rowan@bigtrip2009.com and ali@bigtrip2009.com)

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Posted by bigtrip09 06:29 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged preparation

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