This trip was a birthday present for my ten year old daughter. In 2004 I went to England to visit my friend near Manchester. When I returned home I told my daughter that I would take her when she turned 10. She has always been fascinated with England/London. My wife and I were in England on vacation in 1996 and nine months later she was born and we named her Britton. Hence the fascination. Also, I am a HUGE Arsenal supporter so the trip was also based on that!
We flew from Newark to LHR on BA arriving Thurs Jan 25. We had booked the tix back in early August. In fact we booked the tix through American Airlines.com through One World. The tix were cheaper on that site than at BA.com. We bought a travel card at the terminal when we arrived. We eplained to the attendent exactly what we would be doing and he gave us a 7 day travel card loaded on an oyster card for zones 1 and 2. Plus the trip from Heathrow into Victoria Station. We made it to Victoria station and walked to the Luna and Simone Hotel. I was a little nervous about actually getting from the Heathrow to the Luna and Simone especially with my daughter wheeling her luggage onto the tube and through Victoria and on the street to the hotel. However, it turned out to be very easy for her and we walked from Victoria to the L&S with ease.
The Luna and Simone was perfect for us. I dont think it could have been any better. We stayed on the third floor which was a bit of a hike but we managed. In fact, the hike up the steps at the L&S was really the most difficult part of our trip from Heathrow to the Hotel. The breakfast each morning was excellent and the staff could not have been more helpful. The location of the hotel was perfect for us too. It took us about 10 mins to walk to Victoria and the #24 bus stopped directly outside the hotel which we used all the time.
After we arrived at the hotel we threw our bags into our room and then grabbed a bite to eat at a pub a few streets up from the L&S. Then we walked up to Victoria a grabbed a bus on The Original Tour. I booked the tickets on line a few days before we left. I believe we saved a few quid by booking on line plus the tix were good for 48 hours. We hopped on the bus and took the entire tour. It was a good way to get our feet wet on our first day. Obviously we were tired so after the tour we got another quick bite to eat and called it an early night.
On Friday we took the #24 Bus to Westminster Abbey and Parliament. Westminster Abbey was nice and my daughter really enjoyed seeing it. There were no crowds and we stood by ourselves in the tomb of Mary Queen of Scots. We took lots of photos of Big Ben and then walked onto the Westminster Bridge to take even more photos. We then took the tube up to Arsenal in North London. I had booked us a Legends Tour of Emirates Stadium with Charlie George. It was fantastic to see the new stadium and surprisingly my daughter really enjoyed this too. After the tour we spent way too much in the club shop! From there we took the tube to Charing Cross(I think) and saw the Ben Franklin House on Craven Street. Franklin lived here in London and a theater company does a little one person performance at the house. It was intersting and my daughter really enjoyed this since she recently studied Franklin in school.
On Saturday we hit the Tower of London first thing in the morning. We headed straight for the crown jewels and were the only ones in the building viewing the jewels! My wife were there in July of 96 and stood in line forever to see them.! After seeing the jewels we saw the other sites of the Tower before taking the Beefeater tour. That tour was one of the hi lights of the trip. Very entertaining and they make history interesting to everyone. After the Tower our Tour bus tickets also included a free river cruise so we cruised down to Greenwich. We had our nicest meal of the trip at the Trafalgar Tavern before heading up the hill to the Royal Observatory. My daughter straddled the Prime Meridian and we took lots of photos of London. We then took the cruise back to London and went to Trafalgar square and the National Portrait Gallery.
On Sunday we walked up to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard Ceremony. Then we headed up to Emirates Stadium for Arsenal VS Bolton in the FA Cup. 1-1 draw but we enjoyed our first game at the Emirates.
On Monday we took the Eurostar to Paris for the day. We booked L'open Bus tour at Waterloo. In retrospect, I would not do this again for a day trip of Paris. We saw everything in the city but reallly didnt have time to actually do anything. Next time I woulid either taxi everywhere or use the metro. We enjoyed ourselves though and I have lots of pics of Britton standing in front of the Eifel tower. Besides its still cool to go from London to Paris in a few hours.
On Tuesday we went to the London Eye first thing in the morning. We then took the tube up to the British Museum. Britton wanted to do the British Museum because she had recently studied or read something about an exhibit. The museum is spectacular. We only spent an hour or two there but we could have easily spent an entire day there. On Tuesday night we went to Mary Poppins! Since Britton had to sit through two soccer games I figured it was only right that I sit through Mary Poppins. The show was very good and it was the hilight of Britton's trip.
On Wednesday we took the bus to Liverpool St Station and then took the train to Rayleigh to visit a friend and her family for the day. After the visit we took the train back into London for the Arsenal VS Spurs Carling Cup semi final. It was the hi light of my trip as Arsenal won 3-1. It was the pefect ending to the trip!
On Thursday we checked out of the L&S and had Simply Airports pick us up and drive us back up to Heathrow! We flew back to Newark to a very jealous brother/son and mother/wife! There is always next time.