Joined: 4 May 2001
From: Bristol Rhode Island USA
After a long day/night of traveling, my 10 year old granddaughter, Bailey, and I arrived in London to a nice sunny morning. I had arranged for a driver to pick us up at Heathrow. That really worked well and in just about an hour we were dropped off at our hotel.
The driver told us that the weather would be going down hill in the next day or so; therefore, after checking in, we headed out to the London Eye. I had hoped to do it after we had seen a bit of London so that Bailey could pick out a few places. She didn’t care, she loved it! It is worth the £17 (I think). The ride takes about 45 minutes; you hardly feel that you are moving. This is my second time; I still enjoyed it. From there we headed toward Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Bailey was amazed that people were actually buried in the Abbey. But the high point was the gift shop!! This was a recurring theme throughout the trip. This child lives to shop.
By 6:30 I was really dizzy from exhaustion; we had a quick dinner at the hotel and went to bed. I got 11 hours of sleep, Bailey had 12. End of jet lag.
Thursday, we headed off to The Tower of London. We joined a guided tour, free and worth doing. After a quick, terrible lunch – Bailey’s diet is very limited, she won’t try new things. All the major sites have wonderful, inexpensive cafes, but there was nothing to tempt her. Pizza 5 times, Burger King, Subway – you get the drift- YUCK – we hopped on a tour bus and got off at Regent St. for, you got it, shopping. Hemley’s was her destination – 5 floors of toys with lots of demonstrators. She loved it. We poked around some of the stores on our way back to hotel. After dropping off her bags we went to Covent Gardens. Bailey loved the street performers, so we went there most evenings.
Back at the hotel, we were tired and ready for bad. Our room was on the street side, needless to say, the noise was terrible. The first night we were so tired that I just did not notice it. The next morning, I went to have our room changed. I usually don’t complain, but we changed twice. I paid for a club room, first change was tiny, second one was a bit bigger, but no chairs. I had to settle for that as the hotel was full. I hate reading in bed. At least this room was inside. Makes a big difference.
Friday it was off to Harrods – do you get the theme here? Actually, it is really worth the visit. The food courts are the best. Every thing looks so good; the prices will make you eyes pop – Maine lobster for only $54 lb. But… there is a gelato bar…. Worth every single penny (£20 for a small sundae and 2 small scoops of the best ice cream I have every had). We then headed up to Buckingham Palace and the Royal Mews – closed on Fridays. That evening we went to see The Lion King. It was great; I loved it as much as Bailey.
Maintenance was being done over the weekend on the tube so many lines were down. I finally tackled the bus routes. Easy. Saturday was spent at the British Museum. There is not much I can say about, other than you must go see it. The artifacts are just impressive. The collection from Egypt and mid east is mind blowing. Plan on spending the day to see it all.
After the museum, we stopped in China Town where we had a good meal – yeah she likes Chinese! Walking back to hotel, we stopped at St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Brass Rubbing Center. For not much money, it is a good place to entertain the kids – even I enjoyed doing a rubbing.
Sunday it rained, we headed off to Sea Life. There were several “Elephants” on the way. In total we saw 7 scattered around London. Despite the rain, the line for the London Eye was long. I can’t imagine how good the view would be. The aquarium was okay, but having been to Sea World and the Boston Aquarium, I was not impressed. Bailey enjoyed it though. In the afternoon we were back at the rubbing center. The rain kept us in for the evening.
Monday we went to see the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace. Despite the number of times I have been to London, this is one thing I had not done. Of course we were in the wrong place to see the real action, but Bailey is skinning enough to wiggle her way to see what is going on. It rained on and off – tough to see with umbrellas. We did get to see the Royal Mews afterwards. The carriages were great, tour guide added to the experience.
Tuesday we went to Hampton Court Palace. I had hoped to go by river and thought the boat left at 10 – wrong, so we took the tube. We ended up in Richmond and took a taxi to the palace. The driver pointed out the train station across the river – quick trip to Waterloo Station. Oh well. The palace is great. Actors in character, special events planned for the day. It was the marriage of Henry VIII to Catherine Parr. We got to meet Henry. Costumes were interesting – poking through his tunic was a lovely embroider piece covering for the family jewels!!! Why do I think it was greatly exaggerated? We topped off the evening with a final visit to Covent Gardens.
After a little nervous flutter hearing that airports were closed in Ireland and Scotland due to more ash, we were off to Heathrow on Wednesday, with plenty of time to shop before I plane took off. Except for my Whittards tea and some travel books, I saved my shopping for duty free.
Despite the lack of decent meals and too many visit to gift shops, the trip was wonderful. I saw London through the eyes of a child and found more delights.