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3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

Ohio
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3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

Hello TALF, (Long Post)

My husband and I just returned last night from a short but wonderful trip to London to celebrate our 10 anniversary. This forum has been very helpful, and entertaining, and I thank all for taking the time to answer questions, give ideas and share your love for the city. To give a very brief idea of who we are, we are both 38, have 2 kids, love exploring cities, love music and now love London. Oh, Please excuse any poor spelling or typos here. I am doing this quickly and enjoying the recap in my head, but should really be catching up on work.

We arrived late on Thursday and stayed at K+K Hotel George. I will review on the hotel forum later, but to sum, a great choice for us. Good value for a clean, peaceful, convenient. Exactly as expected as we read all 90 reviews here. Didn't have any interest in Earls court, but it served us well as a convenient tube station and was just fine.

Day 1 Friday.

We ate a tasty breakfast in the hotel and were off to the Big Bus hop on/hop off tour at 8:27. Beautiful day and not crowded at all. Enjoyed the ride while getting our bearings on locations. Hopped off too soon and explored an area of the City, then turned around, hopped on another bus and hopped off near Westminster Abbey. There were no real crowds, we did the audio tour and enjoyed every minute. took our time and absorbed so much of something I have never experienced before. A Favorite.

Once out of the Abbey, we strolled all around the area seeing all we could see and taking lots of pictured. Then time for a late lunch at Gordons wine bar. Nice cold salmon and salad and a glass of wine. We were practically the only ones there. After, we saw Buckingham palace and areas around there as well. Somehow we managed to stroll through St. James park and were in Green park too. I remember most about Green park. Lovely. We hopped back on the big bus tour and enjoyed a 3rd live guide and more of the sites.

We hoppped off at St. Pauls for another memorable site. We toured the main floor and went up to the whispering gallery which was all the higher my husband wanted to go. He is not thrilled with heights, but add in the age of a building and this reasonable man starts thinking things are about to fall. No problem, he enjoyed the gallery and encouraged me to continue on to the top where I was met with amazing views of London. Of course, the camera was in husbands pocket as we were not using it inside. Oh well. Once down on the main floor, we had about 30 min. until the 5pm evensong service. It was an optional part of our plan, but time seemed to work and my legs needed a rest from the steps, ha ha. We sat for a bit in the folding chairs, then were asked if we wanted to move to the choir stalls for the service. This was a beautiful way to experience St. Pauls and we were happy it worked for us.

On to a pub afterward. We strolled the City to find the Black Friars pub. It was prime after work time and filled with all ages of Londoners grabbing a pint or two after the work day. We sat outside, had a few pints and took in the surroundings. It was great.

I picked Metrogusto Italian restaurant for dinner in Islington. It took us to another neighborhood which was our plan and was a nice stroll from the tube stop. Would like to rave about it, but it was just ok. My meal was undercooked even for al dente and husbands risotto was not very flavorful. A bit of arrogance from the staff/manager added to just an ok experience but we were able to practice our Italian and that was fun. Dessert made up for the rest and we went home happy to be in London.

Day 2 Saturday

Up early again and took the tube to Notting Hill area and the Portobella Market. We arrived at 8:15 as stalls were just being set up. We grabbed a drink and muffin and strolled all the way down the market, eyeing potential purchases for the way back. Spotted some tasty looking breads, cheeses, olives etc. that would make a nice snack before leaving. Once at the end we turned and saw a completely different market. In the amount of time it took for us to stroll through the half empty market to the end, all the stalls, streets and sidewalks had filled with people behind us. We were swimming upstream but it was great. I bought a painted brush for our 7yr old daughter, she lost her brush and will love its replacement, and we picked up some crusty bread, smoked salmon and a small hunk of cheese for a rest on a bench somewhere. We left the market looking for interesting things in the area. We found a park and the name escapes me, but it was a private garden square - is that correct? and our timing was off. It was open on Sunday. No worries, we found a bench somewhere, ate our bread and cheese and watched the people go by.

One of only two prescheduled events was next. We jumped on the tube and headed to Chelsea for a tour of Chelsea Football Club. Yes, we yanks from Columbus Ohio enjoy soccer very much and my husband is quite familiar with English Prm. League. I thought he would really enjoy this and was right. Actually, we both did. We were not expecting the Football Club to be so new and big and state of the art (a tiny bit of dissapointment, as we wanted more of a historical site). The tour was well done and another highlight. Arsenal was an option but only tours on Fridays, and didn't think of Fullam, so Chelsea it was and we had fun. Being in Chelsea at noon took us away from the Trouping the Colours which may have been nice to see. But this did get us out of big crowds again. We thought of eating lunch in Chelsea, but instead hopped back on the tube for Knightsbridge for shopping and late lunch. I felt like I was transported to the miracle mile in Chicago for a day of shopping with all the people and shops. We ate lunch at Wagamama and loved it. Off, then, to Kennsington Palace and gardens. We spent a lot of time here on the grounds and in the park. Sat at the pond and watched people while deciding what was next. Harrods and Oxford were shopping options, and we settled on Harrods for the experience and the food halls. We walked by the Royal Albert hall which was a nice surprise and found a fun side street that took us right up to Harrods. The food hall was too crowded to really enjoy too much. 4pm on a Saturday and to be expected, but I managed to find chocolate, some small things for family and marveled at the variety of foods and who really buys the meats etc on a daily basis. That was all we needed of Harrod. Glad to have gone.

Time for a pub. We headed back to Notting Hill area, as this is where dinner was too, and found the Churchill Arms. We loved this pub. Quite the contrast to Fridays choice and we had a few pints and enjoyed the atmosphere. Dinner was back toward the tube then near the Portebello Mkt. Assaggi, Italian again. We had made a reservation for 10pm but were early. Very small place above the Chepshow pub and right in the middle of a residential street. Fabulous! We enjoyed the most amazing meal. the white lazagna with broad bean and asparagus melted with each bite. the mozzarella with tomatoes had lots of flavor and the main meats, filet and lamb, were outstanding. Flourless chocolate cake with cream was the best and we felt welcome and at home. Oh, they seated us early and helped with what Italian I could not translate. Unfortunately, it was most of it. Great date!

Last Day. Sunday.

Our plan for Sunday was a south bank walk from Westminster Bridge to Tower bridge, then Tour of London, London Eye if time and no lines, and shopping in covent garden, oxford or wherever.

We started out on a beautiful morning and enjoyed the south bank walk. The view across the river was not to be missed and quite a different experience. Being such a busy city, London has so much noise with all the traffic. From the other side of the river on an early Sunday morning, we took in the views of the city with no noise, no people and it was great. We made it to the Tower of London at 10:15 along with sooo many others. We took the beefeater tour which I recommend. A talented storyteller and such an historic place made a great package. It was such a nice day and the lines for most of the buildings were so long that we took in what we wanted and didn't go through every building. A quick bite of fish and chips just outside the tower and then back to our hotel to tend to an error in judgement in my footwear choice for the day. London Eye and shopping were put on the list for next trip.

After unusual blisters on the ball of each foot were taken care of, we headed back to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery. A treat. It was 4pm so we had two hours left. There were events happening in the square but the gallery was near empty. We saw everything we wanted to see and it made a good slow pace for painful feet. Somehow we exited to the back and ended up in Piccadilly Circus. Felt like Times Square in New York. Excitement, flash, people, the premire for a Batman movie, pre theater dinners. If only I could walk faster, we would have explored more. We went into a Pizza Express and had a nice meal. Wine, some olives, a salad each and we split a pizza. My feet were alive again and all was well.

Our last event was also a preplanned one. We took the tube to Hammersmith to the Carlin Apollo for a Pat Metheny Group concert. Not familiar with Hammersmith, or anywhere in London for that matter, we werent sure where we were going once off the tube. No worries. Signs everywhere. Once we popped above ground, it was all different again. Another slice of London life. We chose a direction, turned a corner and there it was. We had time for a drink before the concert and were treated to a night of music in London.

So sad our trip was ending, we traveled back to the hotel and packed. The hotel arranged for a morning car for us. Our flight was 7:45 and we wanted to be early, so we planned to leave at 5. The car arrived 10 minutes early and it took all of 20 minutes to get to terminal 3 at Heathrow. Didn't want to leave London that quickly!

We loved our experience and look forward to bringing our kids on the next trip. Thanks again, TALF for all your knowledge...and for the word Muffintop. I smiled at every spotting.

Cheers!

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1. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

Thanks for sharing gogojean. What a memorable way to celebrate your 10th anniversary. I'll have to keep in mind Assaggi when I'm there in September as Italian food is my favorite.

London, United...
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2. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

Great report gogojean and glad you had a great time.

Just one thing, I was outside The Blackfriars on friday night as well (one of those Londoners grabbing a pint or two after work but it turned into several in the end). I did see a couple who looked like tourists i.e. they didn't look any city workers and who knows it could well have been you.

Have you got short brown hair and is your husband quite tall with long grey hair and I think one of you was wearing a brown jacket?

Salem, Oregon
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3. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

Fabulous trip! The most well-spent 3 days I've ever heard about. This should be pulled up every time someone asks about how to spend 3 or 4 days in London. I loved your description of turning back at Portobello Market to find something absolutely transformed. Great report.

Ohio
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4. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

Mick67- That wasnt us but Im sure we looked like tourists. I have med. brown hair and husband short light brown. I was in black with denim jkt and husband in khakis and plaid shirt. We were mostly outside and in several spots. I was the one eyeing everyones attire. I work for a specialty retailer and do financials for the buyers. Nice to not be looking at numbers, but at trends in menswear on the streets of london.

Ohio
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5. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

Thanks Britfan!

I forgot one park. I think it was on our way to Assaggi, or would it have been Islington? We walked through Holland Park. I dont have any of my maps with me and cannot believe I cant think of where we were. It was later in the day but not quite dark. We were in the park for a bit of the walk then on the Holland Walk outside the park fence. My husband knows that every once and awhile I get paranoid in unfamailiar areas and he created our own spooky London walk by making comments about the area at dark. As we reached an area of the walk where tall brick wall was on one side and tree lined fence on the other and not another person in site, he really had me going. I smiled big at the female jogger that appeared in front of us and he had a sore ribs for awhile when my elbow met his side.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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6. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

gogojean - that's a great looking itinerary! The main part was its spontaneity. We will be in for 3.5 days and I will certainly use your ideas as a template. Is Pizza Express a chain? Which hotel is the K & K Hotel George? Maybe I'll have adamhornets fine tune your work for me and give it a go! Thanks again!

London, United...
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7. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

So you was the one I almost phoned the police about as i though you were eyeing up potential victims LOL. My attire is certainly not trendy or what you would expect from a city gent but it is comfortable for me.

Glad you enjoyed having a drink at the Blackfriars, it is one of the more unique pubs in London and as you say it is good for people watching.

Stamford bridge, the home of Chelsea, has been modernised very recently and many of the stadium in britain have been upgraded in the last 15 years following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 when 49 fans died. To see Chelsea's ground before the modernisation would have been an eye opener, especially The Shed which was the name given the terracing at Chelsea.

Fulham's ground might have been a bit more historical as they still have the old Craven Cottage situated on site and also Arsenal's ground, Highbury had their marble halls. I imagine the next time you visit (and I'm guessing their will be a next time), Arsenal will have moved to their new ground and Highbury will be converted to apartments and the pitch will be a garden.

Ohio
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8. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

nedfree1,

Thanks for the compliment. As spontaneous as our trip sounds, I must credit my husband for selecting the guide books (we used Lonley Planet for trips to San Fran and Seattle and stuck with them for this) and setting up the main outline for the trip. We decided what was most important to see, added the Chelsea trip and the concert and left big chunks of time incase something didn't work or if something more interesting came along. I checked times and maps, and added plan b ideas for bad weather, etc. I also credit this site as my search engine. I went here every time I had a thought about something and got lots of good direction.

I believe Pizza Express is a chain. I had read reviews about it on several sites that have been listed on TALF, so I remembered it when we were walking by looking for somewhere close to eat.

We found K+K Hotel George on this site in the hotel section. There are over 90 reviews to give you an idea and the hotel pictures are quite accurate for what you get.

Oh, one fun thing that helped with pubs...my husband downloaded fancyapint.com onto his palm pilot and had that with us. As we came across something that didn't sound familiar, we looked it up. Made for fun reading along the way.

London, UK
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9. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

Gogo,

Sorry to hear that Metrogusto disappointed you. It had race reviews a few years ago & I wonder if it lives on it's reputation too much. I've not yet been tempted in.

I can thoroughly recommend the Sacre Couer which is the low key French place pver the road. There are many other great places to eat up in that part of town, so you must come back for another nosh, maybe when you visit Arsenal ;-)

Yes, Pizza Express is an independant chain of restaurants. The standard menu has recently been updates, so several new pizzas & some good salads. I prefer PE to Deep Pan & Pizza Hut. The pizza ovens & chefs working area are often in the middle of the restaurants, so you see your pizza being built - bit of fun.

FOr a stylish Pizza Express, pop along to Kettners on Romilly Street - it's the flagship restaurant. White table linen, live music & champagne bar - all make for an affordable treat.

Watford
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10. Re: 3 days in London - a wonderful trip!

What a wonderful report - In three days you've become a London expert! It's great how you fitted your set things in with strolling. I suspect the weather helped.

The transformation at Stamford Bridge is truly astonishing. I remember standing on crumbling terracing getting soaked to the skin not that many years ago. Now you dine in their fine restaurants, stay the night in their fancy hotels and see some of the worlds best footballers. I would still rather watch Watford though.

See you next time!