Our family loved our trip to London.
Fall is an ideal time to go since kids are back in school and the crowds aren’t so bad. The weather was perfect!
This was my second trip to London. I was more comfortable and knew my way around a bit and I showed the kids everything I loved.
We had an early flight out of Frankfurt Hahn to London Stansted on Ryanair.
We took a National Express coach into Victoria Station from London Stansted.
We had a lovely English brunch at Frankie and Benny’s, then got our Oyster Cards for the Tube.
Then we walked up to Buckingham Palace.
The kids and Aaron were kinda disappointed in the plain façade. We didn’t even make it back that way for a changing of the guard. They didn’t even want to do a tour. I was a little disappointed, but ambivalent about spending all the money for a tour.
Then we walked down The Mall to Trafalgar Square. The lions were fun and the fountains are lovely. There was nothing on the fourth column! wah!
This is where we should have caught the Tube to Holborn, but we walked. It was hot and we were exhausted by the time we reached our apartment.
We stayed in a lovely apartment, Holborn One. It was quite huge.
We took a little rest, drank some water, walked a block to Sainsbury’s to stock up on English candy and breakfast items. I can’t even express how much I love British sausage and bacon.
We took the Tube again to Baker Street, but the kids were disappointed with the touristy museum and cosplay guard at 221B.
Such a unique souvenir!
We tore through The National Gallery to see the Arnolfini Wedding and some Impressionist paintings, like van Gogh Sunflowers. They were closing up and shutting off wings as we were ushered out.
We got fish and chips takeout for dinner. The portions were humongous!
Aaron and I had a pint of ale at the pub around the corner.
We made breakfast in our apartment.
We took the Tube to The Tower. We had purchased tickets online, but it wasn’t a bit crowded.
Alex loved the armory!
Designed by British artist Brian Catling, the circular Memorial to the Executed focuses on the ten executions that have taken place on Tower Green, within the Royal castle’s walls.
Comprising two engraved circles with a glass-sculpted pillow at its center, the larger circle of dark stone bears a poem – written by the artist – around its rim, whilst the upper glass circle bears the engraved names of the ten famous and not so famous individuals executed in front of the Chapel Royal.
We got to see some guards up close.
It was a little drizzly. We beelined for the Crown Jewels.
We then hurried back to the entrance for the Beefeaters Tour. After that, we explored the White Tower and the Bloody Tower.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed with The Tower. It seemed expensive and I’m not sure what I expected.
We were hungry, so we took the Tube to Leicester Square and ate lunch at Garfunkel’s.
We walked around Piccadilly Circus and Chinatown, then headed back to our apartment for a rest and to get ready for our show!
We stopped at M&S and got some sandwiches and snacks for dinner.
Aaron and Alex went around the corner and got all cut and shaved.
We saw Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. I have waited over 25 years to see this show and it was magical.
When we stepped out, we noticed the full moon. We walked down to the Thames and back up to see Big Ben in the moonlight.
It was a full day.
We ate breakfast in our apartment.
We took the Tube to Westminster Abbey. We did not purchase tickets online, but the line wasn’t very long and we inside in just a few minutes.
I had downloaded the audioguide (narrated by Jeremy Irons – swoon!) a week earlier and had listened to it, so I was familiar with what we would see. The place is huge and packed with memorials and statues and plaques and tombs. It was very crowded.
We were starving afterwards, so we took the Tube back to Piccadilly Circus and ate at a unique hot pot restaurant, Shuang Shuang. It was Alex’s pick and it was so fun and yummy. A little conveyor belt brought little dishes around and you just grab the ones you want and make your own hot pot. I love that the kids try new things!
We took the Tube to Euston to get photos in front of Speedy’s Cafe, BBC Sherlock’s front door.
Then we headed to King’s Cross Station to get the kids’ photos at Platform 9 3/4. I got a latte from Pret a Manger and watched.
We walked a block over to go see the British Library. It was a tad disappointing. At least a copy of the Magna Carta was there, but they didn’t display the Lindisfarne Gospels, Lewis Carroll, or any original Shakespeare. Alex got a kick out of seeing pages of Leonardo’s notebook in my compact mirror.
We got the kids some sandwiches and easy-prep dinner items at M&S.
Aaron and I ate at Doggett’s Bankside. I had impeccable halibut with kale, edamame, and quinoa with lovely ale. The lemon rose tart was delightful.
Today was Sunday. We ate breakfast in our apartment.
We rushed to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I had bought tour tickets for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Tour and Exhibition on Viator and wasn’t sure how it would work. It was super easy! We walked right in and showed the desk clerk our email confirmation printout and joined the tour beginning that moment. Perfect timing!
The kids say this was their favorite tour of the week! The actor/guide was Cockney and funny and delightful with different voice and great jokes.
See my post about Shakespeare here.
We ate a delicious carvery lunch at Punch Tavern.
The portions were huge. Liz and Katie ordered fish and chips. Tori got the fish of the day: a gorgeous salmon with lemon sauce. We were the only ones in there, so we got lots of attention and weren’t rushed at all. The girls got English Rose mocktails that were so pretty in pink!
We did the Bankside Walk from Rick Steves London.
We went to the Choral Evensong service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The kids wanted to sit in the first row, right under the dome. They were perfect seats and we could see everyone and hear quite well.
We got on the Tube to Earl’s Court. We viewed the only blue police call box in London – the only T.A.R.D.I.S.!
We had wanted to eat dinner at Byron (there’s a big, fancy one at Holborn, near our apartment), but there was a fun, bright little Byron right beside the T.A.R.D.I.S. Perfect! They have American-style burgers and fries and fun natural sodas and beer. The girls all got huge Oreo milkshakes and those were the kids’ portions! We haven’t had a good restaurant burger in almost 3 years!
We ate breakfast in our apartment. Aaron and Alex walked across the street to Pret a Manger to get coffee.
We walked around the corner to get a picture of Charles Dickens’ house.
We packed up and took the Tube to Whitehall.
We saw 10 Downing Street and got pictures with the Horse Guards.
We walked down for one last look at Trafalgar Square. We took the Tube to Queensway for Kensington Gardens.
We got pictures with the Peter Pan statue and looked at the condors in the lake.
The kids played in the Princess Diana Memorial Playground and Aaron, Liz, and I sat at a table with elderberry lemonade.
We got pizza for lunch and cupcakes for the coach ride to the airport in Victoria Station.
We bought chicken sandwiches at Leon in London Stansted airport to eat on the plane home.
It was a fun-packed trip. We saw and did so much! London is a favorite.