Hello London Forum
Thanks to all of you we have had the best holiday ever imagined. Im not sure I can get through this report without tears that its over but here goes.
We flew out of Calgary at 130am on the 24th and arrived at Gatwick at 510 pm. The flight was great timing as we slept and watched movies and had time to get organized when we got there.Did find the train to the hotel crowded but expected that.Reception at hotel (Millenium Bailey) was quick and easy and the room was larger than expected and very nice and clean.
25- We caught the 1st big bus tour right across the street and started our journey. We had a recorded version at 1st and then commentary when we changed buses. We got off at the Tower of London stop and took the river cruise, very nice. We exited just as Big Ben was ringing in 12 noon. Walked to Westminster Abbey and toured for 2 hours. Caught the bus tour again but had to switch at Green Park. We took this opportunity to grab a sandwich at M& S and eat in the park. Grabbed the bus tour and rode to Harrods. Headed back to the hotel and relaxed as it was very hot. Went out in the evening and walked and walked. Tried to enjoy some English TV.
26-Caught the big bus again and got to St Pauls. I got as high as the whispering gallery and my husband went to the top. Lovely sight. Walked across the Millenium bridge and took in the Tate modern, not really our taste.Walked down to the Globe theatre but too late for tours or tix. We walked past the Golden Hinde, the Southwark cathedral etc and got to the London Bridge station. We got off at the Elephant and castle tube and walked to the Imperial war museum where we toured for a few hours. Caught the bus and the tube and went to Harrods. We had a nice meal at the Forum cafe down the street from our hotel and went for another walk and had 1/2 hour of internet time to talk to the kids.
27-Caught the train from Kings Cross and got to Edinburgh. Thsi took 4 hours. We found our B&B and then took the bus tour around town. We got off on the royal mile and walked and found the potato place recommended on the forum on Cockburn street. Excellent. Walked back down to Prince street and shopped a bit and got back to the B& B on Scotland street.
28- Woke up to a lovely breakfast in the garden watching the daughter play as a butterfly. Walked to the train station, stowed our pack and caught the bus to the castle. The line was only 20 minutes long and we then toured for 2-3 hours.We went through the tartan factory next to the castle and rewalked the royal mile. Holyrood was closed for a special reason so we just looked around it.. No energy to walk up Arthurs court but next time for sure. We couldnt find the right bus stop so we walked to Prince street and caught our train. There were problems on the track so the trip took 5 1/2 hours. We did have room to stretch out for the 2nd half of the journey and some nice older ladies gave us mints. It was hot!
29-Caught the tube to Embankment and went to Trafalager square (very important to us as the history of Lord Nelson has been studied alot). We toured the National gallery, the portrait museum ( I wanted to see lady hamilton) and went through St Martins in the field. We walked down Whitehall and found the cabinet war rooms and spent 2 hours in there. We took the bird cage walk and then walked in the park until we got to Buckingham Palace. Caught the tube to Piccadilly circus and walked Regent street until we found Hamleys and Liberty. Stopped for a quick burger. Got back to hotel showered and rested and off for another communtity walk. We got fish and chips for a late supper and brought them back to the room.
30-Took the tube to Covent gardens market, it was peacedul because it wasnt fully open yet. Walked to Leicester square and then turned and walked to the British museum. We spent a good 2 1/2 hours here and only touched the surface.Saw the rosetta stone and Cleopatra, many statues etc. We found a large Tesco and bought lunch food and went back to our hotel to rest and eat.. We went out in the evening and found a laundrette. Ordered a take away pizza for supper. We were planning a trip to the Tower for the next morning but my husband discovered that we had booked our trip to Paris for the 31st. Got to bed
31- We woke at 4 am and caught a taxi to Waterloo ( we had a mercedes not a london taxi, the kids will be disappointed). Called the kids from the station. Met a guide at 530 and caught the eurostar. Most people slept on the train to Paris,very fast and ccomfortable. We met our Paris tour guide Francoise and hopped on the bus, she gave us some good history.We took an hour cruise down the Seinne and then joined the bus again and went to the Eiffel tower. We didnt have enough people to join the short line but they had just changed the rule so we were allowed. One lady from i wont say which country lost her tix so were delayed going up until she found it, (10 mins). We had 1 1/2 hours to enjoy the view. Our bus dropped us off by the Statue of Joan of Ark on the Rue Rivioli and they gave us 3 1/2 hours to tour on our own. We were only a few blocks from the Louvre so we enterd throught eh mall off the Rue Rivioli and got into the museum in 20 minutes. We asked to find the Mona Lisa and after much walking and climbing stairs we found her. We looked at a few other paintings but knew we were limited for time so we left the building. We grabbed a crepe in the mall.We walked along the Champ de Elyees , circled back to the Plcae de concorde and then past the louvre and walked down the river Sienne. We shopped, had ice cream and caught our bus tour to Gare de Nore. Our train left at 813, exactly on time and got us back to London at 1030. We walked from Waterloo staion over to the Westminster bridge and took some night photos. We walked aroud Westminster abbey and St Margarets church, it was pretty windy and then it started to drizzle so we caught the tube back to the hotel.
1st-We caught the DLR to Grenwich, Beautiful town. We toured the Cutty Sark and then walked up the hill to the Obsevatory. Very interesting. We walked back down through the park and took in the Maritime museum. Saw the actual uniform that Nelson wore in the battle of Trafalagar.Both free. We went to town and ate in a pub ( not very old English)We bought a few pies as take away from an actual pie shop, very cute. Took the Westminster cruise to tower dock and went through the Tower bridge experience. My husband loved the big engines. We then found the design museum which he will tour tomorrow. We got back to the hotel by seven. Went out to check our email and shop the grocery a bit. It didnt feel like we had enough time left.
2- We got to the Tower of London but missed the 1st tour so we were sent to the Crown jewels ( a very good idea to do 1st because the lines were huge later in the day) We caught the 2nd tour around with the Beefeater and learned alot in an hour. We spent another few hours walking on our own through all the towers and walkways, it was 4 hour visit. We split up and my husband went to the design museum to see the F1 exhibit and tour the Belfast. I took the tube to south kensington and took in the V&A. As I walked home along Cromwell I noticed a truck unloading an interesting old car. it turned out to be a 30s race maserati, a ferrari and a lamborgini also passed me by. I hope the design museum was good, it turned out to be. I did the post and grocery and he was back when I got there. We left again to see if the car was still there but no, we then toured the V&A and got the photos I wanted.We found a chinese buffet for supper and as we walked back we went past a Lamborgini shop. It was a good day for cars.
3-Got out to Hampton Court Palace. Expensive but worthwhile. We took the four audio tours and walked the gardens, 4 hours .Dropped things back at the hotel and walked over to the science museum,overwhelmed by everything. Picked up Kfc and ate in teh room. After supper we took the train to Paddington station ( our daughter had been visiting friends close to there a few years back).We walked up the canal to little venice and back. We took the tube to Nottinghill just to scope it our for me the following Sat. got abak to the room at 9 and set the clock for 430 am.
4- We ate a light breakfast and caught the 516 tube to Waterloo and the train to Portsmouth, got in at 8 but nothing is open until 10. We had time to walk to the harbor and check out the outdoor mall Gunreef Quay? We grabbed a breakfast sandwich and headed over to the Victory. This was a great day. We spent 2 1/2 hours on the ship and took every possible photo, we then did the warrior. We took the harbor boat cruise, a few ships that had just returned from the middle east and many more to see. We saw the Mary Rose, amazing how they are restoring a ship lost in the ocean since Henry the V111 time.We saw the surviving topsail from the Victory, now the oldest piece of linen around. We split up and he did 3 more museums and 2 shops and went up the spinikkar tower and I went shopping at the mall. We caught the 8 train back after a bit of an unexpected detour. We made it back atround 10 and again checked email and got a cold supper from Tesco and took it up to our room
5- We split up and he headed for the RAF museum and Hannants hobbies. I took the tube to Nottinghill and walked through Portobello marketi. I then walked down Kensington high street and walked Kensington park and toured the Palace. ( Not too much for the price) I walked back to the hotel and organized receipts. We made up some noodle soup and went our to the science museum again.. We walked to sloane square and took teh tube to westminster to check out the london eye. Very crowed in the evening so we sat in the park and watched people and a bad juggler. We crossed jubilee bridge and bought salad etc and went to Trafalagar square to eat. We just pulled up some pavement and watched the thoasands of people milling about.
6-Got up early and went to the London eye, the line was very managable, the trip around was 1/2 hour and very good to do. the new 2006 tour books said it was 11 pounds but it was up tp 13 when we went. We took the tube from Waterloo to Tower hill so we could get globe tix early. We got them for the 1 clock show. It was very hot but the sun didnt quite get to our seats. Some people were dropping off though. Got back and slept a bit, had supper at the Forum again, I felt like family by the time we left. Very good homestyle cooking for cheap. Walked after supper and found a ferarri dealer and checked email.
7- My 45 th birthday We woke at 6 and got to Charring cross for our 8 train to Rye. A very pretty and quiet trip through the countyside. We got in and asked at the touris info what we should do in town and they were stumped for an answer, very strange. We walked the cobbled streets of this medevial town and toured the small castle and the one floor museum. The town is full of antiques and old books. We found a nice place for lunch and I had my first real conservatory tea.Everything closes around 530 or when they want and it is lonely after London. We found an italian resteraunt for supper and then went to our B&B. The oldest rooms in town but very little charm left.
8- We were supposed to stay in Rye for the day but our train tix were open ended so we left early and returned to the city. By 1230 we were back in our hotel figuring out how to spend the day.We took the Holburn tube and shopped around the area, we walked to Sir John Soanses home/museum and loved it. Its very unassuming but a wonder inside. We walked to Dickens home but it was 6 pounds so we just took a photo. We took a wlk to the British library, another unassuming place but full of very interesting things. If you can say you have seen the Magna Carta and the original writings of Jane Austin and the music of Bach and Beethoven and Leonardos srapbook you are in a minority. The newspaper exhibit is a wonderful addition.The St Pancreas Palace next door is a mazing to look at and thankfully they are restoring it, even just as condos they are great to see. Back to the Forum for supper and a walk to Sainsbury grocery for last minute food purchases to take home.
9- Cant seem to sleep past 6. My husband calls me his rooster..got on the train to Pimlico and then realized we should be in Piccadilly so hopped another tube. We were at Her majestys Theatre when it opened and got evening tix for the Phantom. 39 pounds each. Got the tube back to Pimlico and walked to the Tate Britian. Very nice art again. Walked acrosss lambeth bridge and saw the castle and then toured the museum of garden history. They have the gravestome of Captain Bligh. Crossed Westminster bridge and walked through St James park and had the ice cream cone with the flake. Got to Piccadilly and toured through Fortnum and Mason( huge food floor) Saw another big museum ?, didnt go in. We headed back and took a short rest. Bought a cold supper at 'Tesco and ate in the room. Took the tube to Piccadilly circus and shopped around. We were at the theatre at 7 and enjoyed the play immensely. it is a smaller theatre but if you cant see for a moment because of rude guests you close your eyes and live the music.We got back and decided to order a taxi for the trip to Victoria in the morning. The tube would have been really packed that early and we had luggage. ( A really good choice)
10- We woke at 6 to the news of a terrorist scheme. I decided to get to the airport early so we got our cab for 645 and caught the Gatwick express some 20 minutes later. The airport was already in a buzz but the staff was really good and they got us through security in a reasonable amount of time. I think some of them were still a little confused as well. The tv screens listed all the planes as delayed so we wondered if we would even make it home but in the end our flight left only 2 hours after scheduled and the trip home was easy. Whne we got back to Calgary there were hundreds of people waiting for the London flight. I think the media really had everyone worrried. I now know why everyone is just waiting to make their next trip to the Uk. We loved the city so much that we had a hard time being out of it. Next time we will do more day trips but for now everything is just perfect. Thank you for all you advice and good ideas. Im sorry if this is too long but I wasnt really sure how to write this up and now I can have a print out for the kids to read. Cheers!