Tater Takes London: Day 3

Our third day in London started at my favorite attraction in the city, the Tower of London. We followed the advice of Rick Steves and arrived right at opening time with pre-purchased tickets and walked in with no line. We also followed his advice and went straight to the crown jewels before the place was packed. If you go to the tower,  I recommend following this advice. You will spend several hours touring the tower. It is a large, interesting place. I’m petty sure it was my kids’ favorite as well.

We left the tower and walked across Tower Bridge. We headed toward London Bridge and Borough Market. I had forgotten that these were the locations of the attack last year until we came across the memorials. It was back to being a bustling market. It was huge and had just about anything you could possibly want to buy. We only had coffee and ice cream.

After a walk through the market, we got on the train and headed out to Greenwich to see the prime meridian. I was not very excited about the trip to Greenwich, but it turned out to be very interesting. If you have extra time, I would recommend going out. We once again opted for the bus back to central London. This time was less stressful since no one had a specific time they needed to be back.

I had to go back and look at my pictures to remind myself what we did next. It was a long day. We got off the bus down by the river and walked by Globe Theatre, took in the view from the top of Oxo Tower, walked back across the bridge to see St Paul’s and headed back to the hotel for a few minutes and then went out for a late, after dark trip to see Abbey Road before we left the city the next day.

Walking stats: 30,747 steps. 48 flights climbed. 11 miles.

Tater Takes London: Day 2

Our first full day in London started(after breakfast) with a trip over to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. On the way, we stopped for a photo-op at a phone booth.

I don’t remember this being such a mob scene when I was last there 20 years ago. We were about an hour early getting to the palace and people were already surrounding the area waiting for the event. It got even more crowded over the hour. The ceremony also seemed to be bigger than back then as well, but I may be misremembering that. It’s fun to see once, but if I go back again, I will skip this.

We then headed over to the Churchill War Rooms. I was really surprised at how long the lines were. We were told the wait to get in without a timed entry ticket was 1.5 hours. As we were looking online to see about buying tickets for the next day, the line suddenly started moving, so we waited. The wait was a lot shorter than expected and we were able to get in. It was a very interesting museum and I had it eventually tell the kids that they had to move faster through so we could get to our next destination. I would highly recommend this.

We then walked past Westminster Abbey on the way to the Houses of Parliament. My daughter wanted to sit in on a Parliament session, so we only took pictures of the abbey and didn’t go in. At Parliament, we were told that it was too full and we should check back in an hour. While we waited we went back to the Supreme Court building that had a free entry sign out front and ended up sitting in on a trial there. We then went back, got in to Parliament and sat in on a session about retail issues.

From there, we walked across Westminster Bridge to get a photo of Big Ben and then took the Underground to Kensington, walked through the gardens to the Albert Memorial and the Diana Memorial Fountain.  We had a few issues getting to the area where we planned to eat dinner due to a major fire in an expensive hotel(pop star Robbie Williams was there and evacuated) blocking most of the roads to the station.  We made it to the pub, walked down to Downing Street and Trafalgar Square and then took the bus back to the apartment.

The bus ride was good, but slow, which stressed out my son who had a Skype interview that night and barely made it back in time. He got off the bus a stop early and ran to the apartment. The two of us went out after to a local craft beer place where we ran in to a random student band dancing down the street.

It was a long day, but very fun.

Walking stats: 26,414 steps. 29 flights climbed. 9.5 miles.

Tater Takes London: Day One

I never did get around to blogging about my trip while I was on my trip. Now, I have multiple days worth of trips to post about and I’m not sure the best way to do it.  I will try a new post for each day of the trip and change if it seems to be a be too much. If you are my friend on Facebook, you have already seen all of my picture dumps there.

We arrived in London at 9:30am at Heathrow. We got our Oyster cards for the transit system)a very convenient and easy process) and headed off to our hotel. Our final stop in London before walking to our hotel was Kings Cross Station where we found Platform 9 3/4. img_0314

We stayed in a two bedroom apartment owned by the Jesmond Dene hotel. It was a very nie place, nice enough that I would have been happy to stay there the entire trip. The staff was very nice. They stored our luggage for us since we were there early and then dropped it at the apartment once it was ready so it would be waiting for us when we were able to check in. They also served a very nice full English breakfast every morning.

If you are going to London, I would highly recommend booking an apartment with them.

The hotel was very close to the British Museum and the British Library, both free. Since we were tired and had less time, we focused on these two attractions on day one. The British Museum was very big and impressive, but other than the Rosetta Stone,

there’s not much there that is that different from what you would find in a museum elsewhere(I maybe wrong about that, but that was my impression). We then headed down to the library only to discover the exhibit center was closed and there was a chance it would be closed the entire time we were in town.  So, I took some pictures of the King’s Library

and the Newton statue outside

and we moved on to the next item on the agenda: finding a place to buy fish and chips.

We did find a chippy, bought dinner and then headed off to the apartment to rest up for day 2.

Walking stats for the day: 17,293 steps, 10 flights of stairs climbed, 6.8 miles.