A Travellerspoint blog

Day 3 - London Eye, Tower of London and Nifty Neighborhood

Walking and Walking and Walking, Oh My!

sunny 78 °F
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Sorry that I wasn't able to post last night. We were completely wiped out after a full day of traversing around the City and we didn't go to bed until 11pm (including the little people).

So I'll try and recap what I can from yesterday then move on to what we did today. I've also uploaded a few new pictures of our adventures.

Monday

We woke up and headed down to the train station again (Allan Michael leading the way of course). Arrived at Waterloo Station and walked across the street and down a bit to the most visited tourist attraction in London - the London Eye. Huge ferris wheel with pods that 25 people can fit in that goes round and round (very, very, very slowly - takes 30 minutes to go all the way) but gives you a spectacular view of the city. We could see many of the sites from above and we were quite lucky because as we were up in the air, the weather cleared and we could see far away. The bad thing was that it was actually quite hot yesterday when the sun was out (not sure but probably 80 degrees in the sun) and there's no a/c on the London Eye (or much of anywhere around here for that matter) so it was a bit toasty and smelly inside the "capsule" but we still enjoyed the view. Of course the kids were all done with the excitement after about 5 minutes into it - until we got to the top and they could say "We're on top now, we're on top now" then excitement waned again. They were most excited about how small the people on the ground looked from up high (forget about St. Pauls' Cathedral, Westminister Abby, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Wimbley Stadium, or any of the other sites you could see!).

After we got off the Eye, Mom's friend from home - Ricky- met us and we ate lunch on the grass by the Eye. As we were eating, the kids noticed statues that started to move and ventured closer. There was an avenue of street performers - of all sorts - so we wandered through there after lunch - we were all captivated by one magician named Richard - he was juggling swords and striking matches held by a 4-year old with a flying yo-yo and escaped from a straght-jacked wrapped in a 30-foot chain in less than 3min. It was quite entertaining - he's certainly a pro - we figured he must make at least 2000 pounds a day from doing that if not more.

Next we walked up to Trafalgar Square and looked around . There was a huge ship in a bottle (the ship was probably the size of a go-cart) plus other interesting things. Then we got on a double-decker bus and headed back to the Tower of London (we were by there on Sunday but didn't go inside).

Tower of London - We got there about 4:00 (they close at 5:30 and it takes 2 hours to see it all) so we did an amended version. We saw some dungeons and the traitors' gate and the bloody tower. Next we wanted to see the crown jewels (real jewels still used by the queen) and the "queue" was over 200 people long probably so we said nevermind and went inside the white tower instead. We saw King Henry the VII's armor as well as the shortest and tallest set of armor in the World (Guiness record certificate there to prove it). The shortest set was smaller than E (and they say made for one of the princes) and the largest was for someone 6ft 8in tall. We also saw some pretty scary weapons and things (the kind you beat each other with, quite disgusting to think about really - but of course Allan Michael was into all the gory details. Oh yes - this is the place where they beheaded Anne Boleyn (one of King Henry VIII"s wives) so they got to hear about that too. As we were leaving the White Tower because they were closing down - we paused and Allan Michael and Elaina ran into the building where the crown jewels were (Mommy, Mommy - look there's no line [because they were closing] - Mom and I chased after them and the nice guards let us through - so we were the last visitors allowed inside and had less than 10minutes to see it - but we did get through it and saw some pretty amazing stuff - including the famous Cullinan diamond (a 530+) carat diamond!.

So we met Ricky after we finished at the Tower of London and walked about a mile, past a really nice marina and by some really nice places to his flat in Wapping where he lives with his wife Jillian (sp?). They have a lovely flat on the Thames in a really nice residential district (as we were walking he pointed out the homes (or former homes) of Rod Stewart, Cher and Helen Mirren. After the kids had some grape juice we went downstairs to the pub next door "The Kidd" - the place where they used to hang pirates - they'd hang them up during low tide then wait 3 tide changings to make sure they were dead. The pub looks as if it sits in the river when it is high tide. It goes up 27 feet during high tide. Another favorite story of Allan Michael's.

After that it was quite late so we headed back on the underground and then the overground to get back to Maureen's.

So check out the pictures and read on for more updates.

Posted by agilsenan 15:38 Archived in England Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Translation

Most common things that mean something different if in England versus USA

Here is a list of common things that kids picked up on as different from US on our first day

Chips are French Fries
Crisps are potato chips
Biscuits are cookies
Rubbish is trash
Queue is line
Pounds is dollars (plus a multiplier about 1.55)
Pence is cents

Additional words we've noticed

Overground is train above ground
Underground or tube is the subway or train underground
"Mind the...." means "watch out for" - commonly used as "mind the gap" (between train and platform)
Lift is elevator
Bobby is police
Car park is parking lot
Jaywalk means you can get sued by drivers if they hit you (drivers have right of way here so look right, left, right - not left, right, left!)
Lemonade is sprite
Water is sparkling unless you request still
White coffee is coffee with cream
Bacon is ham
Crispy streaky bacon is bacon

Posted by agilsenan 13:37 Archived in England Tagged family_travel Comments (4)

Days 1 and 2 -August 14-15 2010

The arrival

sunny 66 °F
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Saturday about 1:30pm, Mom, Elaina, Allan Michael and I headed West to Charlotte for our 6:25 flight on US Airways. We arrived at the long-term deck a little after 4pm and without much ado got checked in and due to a free coupon I had just received for a day pass to the US Airways Club, had about an hour to relax and chill out in comfort prior to boarding. It's a good thing we had that bit of time to enjoy some complimentary beverages and snacks in comfort because that sure wasn't the case after we boarded the aircraft.

We originally were in the last row. I luckily was able to check in early and rebook us to "preferred seating (translation $30 more per seat for an already outrageously priced ticket" so we could all sit together somewhere other than the very back. I had to do it, I couldn't have made it the 8 hour trip on the last row. We barely made it in the "preferred seating" arrangement. Contrary to travel years ago, when there seemed to always be empty seats to allow most folks to spread out - there was literally one extra seat on the entire plan. So we were scrunched.

The kids were excited about the plane ride for about 10 minutes - then starting asking when the movie would start (take note - about 1 hour after take-off for some reason). And also note - gone are the days of a free headset for international travel - $5 per to enjoy the movie and other entertainment (luckily I had some from prior trips so didn't have to shell out $15 for headsets). Also gone are the days of complimentary beer and wine. Oh well, those were the days.

I think we got about 8 ours of sleep (combined, across all 4 of us - not a piece). And finally we arrived on time (actually a bit earlier) from our scheduled time. We got through customs and there waiting for us was Maureen (Sean's 1st cousin).

The kids said the car was funny looking and the steering wheel was on the wrong side ( citroen) and then we were driving on the wrong side. It was great fun catching up with Maureen on the drive to her house in Surrey (near Hampton Court Palace).

So I guess we arrived at her house about 9:30 local time this morning. It was an unusually sunny day so we decided to go ahead and go into the city for the day. We did get in and went on the river cruise, hop on and off but that's about all we got done on the preliminary agenda list for today. We were all quite tired and out of sorts so just as well we didn't try to take in a lot of sites as I doubt any of us would be able to recall the details. We did get a bit of a tour while on the river cruise (we just went from The London Eye Pier to the Tower Pier (got of there and walked around) and then back again and got off at Westminister Abby. We saw the Tower Bridge go up twice (supposedly a very rare occurrence compared to a few years ago).

While we were walking around the Tower Bridge area, Ricky Suggs (a friend of Mom's who is from Benson and is now married to a Duchess and lives in London) met us out in the area and walked around with us a bit giving us some more hisitorical tips.

At about 3:00 we decided we were done so we started making our way back to Surrey. We did very well on the overground (got on at Waterloo Station and took it all the way to end at the Hampton Court Station - about a 35 minute ride). Maureen had driven us to the station to go into London and got us on the train and told us to stay on until it didn't go anymore so that was pretty easy. When we got back tonight, Mom and I realized we hadn't really paid attention to where Maureen drove as she dropped us off so weren't sure how to walk back to Maureen's house (about a 10-minute brisk walk). Luckily Maureen had taken Allan Michael and Elaina out for a walk this morning and Allan Michael remembered the way home and took us right to her street.

We got back to Maureen's (she's not here - off for a Holiday with her beaux - but we did get to spend a couple hours with her this morning and got to see Eddie before he went to a 3-hour futbol practice). Before she left she was nice enough to cook us a roast chicken, roast potatoes and green beans so we had a nice dinner about 7:30pm - got kids in bed and now are chilling out trying to stay up until our "normal" bedtime before crashing for the night.

So - apologies for the rambling and what I'm sure will be typos and grammatical errors. My mind is a bit of blur right now from lack of sleep.

Overall it was a beautiful day in London. Temperature is perfect - probably about 70 degrees, a bit cooler at night.

So - about time for bed now so I'll try and upload some shots from the first days of arrival.

Tomorrow we are planning to head back to the Tower Bridge area and do the things were had on the tentative itenerary (Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Jewel House, HMS Belfast and hopefully and afternoon tea). We are supposed to meet Ricky in the afternoon. Will let you know how it goes.

Alicia

Posted by agilsenan 12:32 Archived in England Tagged family_travel Comments (2)

Tentative itinerary

The original plan


View England on agilsenan's travel map.

Sunday – arrive – hang out a bit with family

Then thinking we could do a boat cruise (part of the London Pass)

Get off at the Tower stop
http://www.londonpass.com/atractionsFullList.asp

See several of the sights around there (also part of the London Pass)

  • Tower of London
  • HMS Belfast
  • Jewel House
  • Tower Bridge
  • White Castle (?not sure if that’s the right name)

Monday


Go to Hampton Court Palace in Surry– (part of London Pass)
http://www.londonpass.com/atractionsFullList.asp


Then maybe on and off bus

London Eye

http://www.londoneye.com/visitorinformation/

Hyde Park
http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde_park/event.cfm?id=1959

  • Cabinet War Rooms (part of London Pass)
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Walk to Parliament Square
  • St. James Palace
  • Have tea somewhere that has gluten-free options

Tuesday

  • Buckingham Palace (separate tickets, but already bought)
  • Changing of the Guards (11:30am)

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/default.asp?action=article&ID=30]

  • Green Park (picnic)
  • Afternoon tea
  • Picadilly circus ???
  • Possibly a play

Wednesday

  • British Museum (free)
  • Wander around
  • Head to Brighton after Lunch on the train
  • Staying at hotel on the waterfront


Thursday
through Saturday

Meander around Brighton area – maybe go to aquarium

http://www.visitbrighton.com


Sunday
Travel Home

Posted by agilsenan 09:44 Archived in England Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Alicia's Travels

London 2010


View England on agilsenan's travel map.

We are getting ready for a trip to London. First International trip for the kids. Sean didn't want to join us, so I asked my Mom to come along. So en route will be Elaina (6), Allan Michael (7), Mom and me. Setting up a blog in hopes that we can share our adventures with family and friends while we are away. Let's see how it goes.

Posted by agilsenan 08:56 Archived in England Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

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