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Finally, A Trip Report for our second week in the UK: London!

The long overdue finale to my UK Trip Report, in which we learn how week 2 of the trip was spent in London!

Who we are and where we went:
This was a family trip. My husband, two adult daughters (henceforth referred to as M and K), and myself. Our first week was the “road trip portion” (and subject of much discussion here!). Week 2 was London.

Travel Day, Edinburgh to London

We left Edinburgh Sunday morning on a long train journey to London. Due to maintenance on the line between Edinburgh and Newcastle, our route went through Carlisle, across to Newcastle, and then south. It was quite lovely, uneventful, with no having to change trains along the way. We were kept entertained by the various conversations taking place at the table across from us, different groups of people throughout the day. Unlike our first journey from Heathrow to Bath, they actually checked out tickets and travelcards.

As we neared London, we discussed how we wanted to get to our hotel. We were arriving around 4pm and had dinner reservations at 6pm. The original plan was to get Oyster cards and take the tube, but by this time we were all a bit tired and didn’t feel we had the brain power to figure it all out immediately, so we decided to take a cab. It ended up being a bit more expensive than I had anticipated (I believe RS lowballed the current fares in the recent guidebook) but we had no regrets. We got to experience riding in a black cab, and we didn’t have to navigate anything.
We had booked a room for the week in Bayswater, at the Kensington Gardens Hotel, and the check in was at their sister hotel The Phoenix. It took quite some time for the desk clerk to locate our reservation (making me a bit nervous) but then he discovered that they had shifted our reservation to The Phoenix.
The rooms were clean, quiet and comfortable, but there was nothing charming about it. Just a safe, comfortable place to stay for the week. The breakfast (not included in our room rate) was very uninspired. After the second morning we opted for Starbucks every day.

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We got our things into our rooms and then headed out for dinner. We had reservations at the Victoria Pub, Paddington, and the person I had corresponded with assured us that they would have the traditional Sunday Roast that I had been hoping for. K pulled up walking directions on her phone and we headed out onto the streets of London. I was absolutely giddy, grinning from ear to ear, looking around and absorbing the fact that I was actually in London. This has been such a lifelong dream for me and to see it become reality was quite overwhelming.

We found the pub and enjoyed a wonderful first meal in London. They did indeed have the Sunday Roast available and it was delicious. I’m very glad I did not heed the dire warnings I had been given about the low quality of a Sunday Roast in a pub. I wanted it, I got it, I enjoyed it. I even had a glass (two, actually) of English sparkling wine, which was quite lovely.

Now that we were refreshed, we found the nearest underground station, got our oyster cards, and set off for Westminster. I can’t describe the feeling up coming up the stairs and seeing the Elizabeth Tower for the first time. And our timing was perfect-just as we arrived Big Ben began chiming the eight o’clock hour. I will hold that moment in my heart forever.

The area was absolutely packed with tourists. We walked out onto Westminster Bridge and took lots of photos, of the London Eye, the Palace of Westminster, the river. The Palace of Westminster was not as lit up by floodlights as I had expected, I’ve seen many photos that showed much more illumination, but it was stunning nonetheless.

We decided to do the Westminster Walk and really enjoyed just looking at everything there was to see. So many statues and monuments, incredible architecture, it was all perfect. We arrived at Trafalgar Square and I was completely overcome with emotion. I felt that somehow I had returned to someplace very important to me, even though I had never before been there. I looked and looked, taking it all in. It was packed with people (there was a Japanese festival of some sort happening), and they had the area around Nelson’s Column roped off, but I enjoyed every second. We eventually made our way back to Westminster and took the tube back to our neighborhood.

As we climbed into bed I could hear Big Ben again through our open window.

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Monday, October 2 ( A very warm and humid day!)

After a very unsatisfactory breakfast at the hotel we headed to Kensington Gardens as our route to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It is a lot less “manicured” than I expected, but it was really quite wonderful. It seems to be a very loved and utilized public space, how lucky are those who live in London? What a joy to have such a place. Also, just as an aside, the dogs in the UK (and there are a lot, is it a law that you must own a dog there?) are the best behaved dogs we have ever seen. On or off leash, they played, they walked, they interacted with other dogs, they returned to their owner when called and never rushed at passersby. What a contrast to the US. (They also weren’t pushed around in strollers, or dressed in stupid outfits, so maybe they just have a better sense of identity)
I digress.

We arrived at the V&A just before opening, and the line was very short. Wow, you really could spend a week there and not see it all. We had determined that our priorities were the fashion exhibits and the statue casts.
We all enjoyed the cast rooms very much, it’s amazing how many pieces are in the collection.

When we visited the fashion exhibits, K and Hubby went at a quicker pace, while I viewed it with M. She is fascinated with historical fashion, especially 18th century, and she creates and sews costumes. It was like having my own personal tour guide, I learned more from her explanations than any of the informational cards provided. I don’t know where she acquired all that knowledge, but if was really great viewing it with her.

We had reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Kensington Palace Pavilion at 2:00, so we bid farewell to the museum and headed back through the park. We arrived early enough to be able to enjoy strolling through the gardens, which are beautiful of course. I took lots of photos of flowers that I’d like to add to my garden, and I got to see a robin, which looks nothing like the American Robin. It was very cute and very friendly.

Afternoon Tea was simply lovely. I had asked here on the forum, but nobody had any experience of it, and online reviews were pretty mixed (and rather old). The thought of having “tea at the palace” was just too wonderful for our little romantic hearts, so we went for it and are glad we did. We split two tea orders, with two extra pots of tea, and it was just right. Enough to satisfy us, and still allow us to want dinner later. The service was elegant, the setting was beautiful, and the food was delicious. Highly recommend!
Next we explored Kensington Gardens, made sure to find the Peter Pan Statue, and just enjoyed the free time. Ended the day with dinner at a pub (no idea which one, there were so many!) and back to our rooms for the night.

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Tuesday

We had 9:30 tickets to the Churchill War Rooms, so after another unsatisfactory breakfast at the hotel we headed to the underground station. We arrived with some time to spare, so we wandered around St. James’ Park, which ended up being my favorite park in all of London. Does it take everyone by surprise when you round a bend and catch sight of Buckingham Palace, or just me?

The Churchill War Rooms was the one museum I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint. My father was a fighter pilot stationed at Honington Air Base during WWII, and I have always been interested in that time. I have read so much about it, particularly the blitz and Churchill, and really all of it. To be there, in the very halls, seeing the very rooms, just as they’d been during that time, it was humbling. We spent the entire morning viewing the rooms and the museum, and even K, who is not that fond of museum days, says this was her favorite.

We had lunch at the café at Westminster Abbey before our 1:30 entrance time. The food was very good.

The Abbey, what can I say? Overwhelming is not a sufficient word. There is just too much to take in. Look up? Look down? Look at the what’s on the walls? You can’t see it all, you just can’t. It was VERY crowded. We did our best, used the audio guide, took lots of photos, but to this day it is a blur. There was so much history, so many plaques, tombs, effigies, that I never really saw it as a place of worship. I’m glad we went, but it would have left more of an impression if we could have slowed down and if there were fewer people. I think we were able to get more out of it than we might have done only due to the fact that we had watched the Coronation of the King, so there were things we recognized that we were able to latch onto. A beautiful place, full of meaning, but I don’t really feel that I experienced it. According to the time stamp on my photos, we were there for two hours.

We walked back through St. James’ Park and on to Buckingham Palace, then back to St. James’ Park where we sat and relaxed on a bench, enjoying the view of the willows on the water, the parading of water fowl, and the occasional uniformed gentleman on a horse.

Our next destination was Trafalgar Square again, this time being able to wander wherever we wanted. I still don’t understand the incredible draw this place has for me, but I was filled with joy to be there.

Dinner at another pub, which one I couldn’t say, then back to our rooms for the night.

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Wednesday:

A day that had one activity planned, and one only. The day that this family of hard core Harry Potter fans would visit the Studio Tour.

Thanks to the incredible help from isn31c here on the forum the planned rail strike did not deter us. We left extra early, after a quick breakfast at Starbucks, and had no problems on the overground from Euston to Watford Junction.

We arrived at the studio at 10:00, our tickets were for 11:00. They let us in right away. We chatted with the person checking tickets, asking what to expect. She stated that most people are done in 2 hours, although some people stay about 3 hours if they are really into it.

Seven and a half hours later we emerged.

I kid you not.

As we entered, I asked if we should get a digital guide. K looked at me, gestured to her sister M, and said “we already have a digital guide.” She was correct. Any questions we had, M was able to answer.

We loved every single minute.

Back to London, dinner at another pub, and back to our rooms.

A perfect day.

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Thursday:

On paper this was to be a very full day: Tower of London, Leadenhall Market, Sky Garden, walking along the river, St. Paul’s for Evensong, dinner, tickets to Six at the Vaudeville Theatre. Phew!

In reality, it was actually pretty low key and relaxing, with lots of downtime for sitting on benches and enjoying ourselves.
We got to the Tower of London just at opening time, so we went right to the Crown Jewels. There was hardly anyone there, so we were able to take as long as we wanted. The line was pretty long an hour later. We enjoyed this part the best.

It seems everyone absolutely loves the Tower of London, and I was excited to see it as I have read quite a bit about it in history books. After the trip was over and we were discussing all we had seen, this was the most disappointing part of the trip for each of us. I thought there would be a lot more to it than a lot of suits of armor and weaponry. The historical events did not seem to be a focus in any of what we saw. I’m glad I got to see it, but we were happy to move on. We did get to see the Ravens.

Next was lunch at Leadenhall Market. Such a pretty place! We had pizza at a very loud restaurant, surrounded by businessmen drinking beer and wine over lunch, and had a very nice time.

After lunch we went to the Sky Garden. It was a clear day and we spent about an hour looking out over the city and taking lots of photos.

Back on solid ground, we crossed Tower Bridge and walked along the Thames, stopping to relax and enjoy the view across from Shakespeare’s Globe, then continuing on to the Millenium Bridge, crossing over to St. Paul’s Cathedral. What a beautiful structure! We sat on the steps awhile then got in the security line to go in for Evensong. The service was beautiful, and the interior of the cathedral was simply breathtaking. I’d like to take the tour if I ever get back to London.

After the service we headed to a pub for dinner and then off to the theatre! We had seats in the back row of the Dress Circle and they were great seats. I had looked at seats in the stalls, but there isn’t much of a rake and M and I are pretty short. We had no problem seeing everything from our seats, the sound was great, the audience was very enthusiastic (I’d say at least half must have been repeat visits) and the cast was amazing. We had a great time.

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Friday, The Last Day:

Time to get in all the little bits we still wanted to do, starting with a request from K: Go to Abbey Road and recreate the famous crosswalk photo. So that’s where we headed after breakfast. What a crazy time that was! Dodging cars, waiting for others to do their photo, it was hilarious. We finally stepped out into the crosswalk, with a friendly stranger taking photos, when a woman bounded out to cross the street, getting in the picture completely unaware of our existence. Her husband was very apologetic and was scolding her for quite some time. We finally got our shot, returned the favor for the friendly stranger, and headed off to the nearest bust stop for our next destination: Little Venice and a ride on a boat to Camden Market.

Little Venice and the Canal Boats: Let me tell you, pictures don’t tell the whole story. The calendar pages, the online photos, all those brightly painted boats tied up along the picturesque tow path. All lies. Yes, there is a canal, and yes there are boats tied up there. I’m sure at one time it was quite charming. The boats are all faded and rundown, with all sorts of random items added on top and around them. The pretty bridges are all covered with graffiti. We enjoyed a quiet ride on the canal, but it did not live up to the advertisements.

Camden Market and Camden:

Puts the funk in funky. That’s all I have to say about that.

Walked to the British Library from there (stopped for a photo of Speedy’s Café for the Sherlock fans among us). Visited the Treasures Room (sadly, Jane Austen’s writings and Alice and Wonderland were off display) geeked out over the Shakespeare Folio among other things, then had lunch at the café.

Next stop, the National Gallery, specifically to see the Van Gogh paintings. The color and texture of his work never fails to move me, and we spent quite some time there. Sadly, Monet’s Water Lilies were not on exhibit. We viewed a few other rooms and then went out to Trafalgar Square, simply enjoying the atmosphere. When I realized it was our last time there, I cried.

We found a pub and had some drinks, then decided to walk to Westminster. We took our time, strolling slowly, admiring the different monuments and statues. Said a fond farewell to Sir Winston Churchill, took photos at a telephone box, more photos of the Elizabeth Tower, then realized we never went to Hyde Park!

Off we went, thus beginning a fiasco of poor timing and outdated restaurant listings. We walked through a bit of Hyde Park, which is lovely by the way, then realized we all needed to use “facitlities” about 15 minutes after such facilities were locked. We then pulled up listings for nearby pubs, which led us to Belgravia, and two pubs that no longer existed. Oddly, Belgravia was the one area of London where I felt conspicuous and on guard. None of us felt comfortable. We ended up taking the tube back to Bayswater and had dinner at the Bayswater Arms.

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Saturday, departure:

We were all quite tired by now, having averaged 4-5 miles a day of walking during week 1, 8-10 miles per day in London. Thanks again to isn31c we managed the hiccup of a broken signal on the Elizabeth line, getting to Heathrow in good time. Security was easy, if a bit chaotic, and we settled in to wait. We got some lunch at Wagamama then boarded our Delta flight home.
I must say, the Delta flight was so much nicer than our flight there. We were still in Economy, but the seats were more comfortable (two together rather than three across), the movie selection was better, the food was better (it seemed they were always bringing food). Then at long last we were home.

Final thoughts:
This trip met or exceeded all of my hopes. I’m very thankful for all of the advice and ideas presented here by other forum members. When planning a trip like this, take in and consider all of the advice, all the comments on your itinerary, but don’t be afraid to go with something that others are horrified by. We had so many comments about how much driving and how many places we were trying to squeeze into the first week, about how exhausting it would be and how little we would get to experience. It turned out to be the exact opposite. None of us ever felt rushed, we fully experienced the things we chose to do, and we have wonderful memories of our UK road trip. London was a flurry of activity, but we also had lots of free wandering time, time to sit on a bench for an hour, time to enjoy drinks and food at a pub.
Thanks for reading my long and rambling report!

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Verrrry fun read! Happy for you that it was mostly just what you and your family wanted and taking notes of all the things that worked. Thank you!

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357 posts

Thank you for sharing.

I'm also a huge fan of Trafalgar Square. I love to sit and people watch and enjoy the ambiance.

I can't (but I can) believe that the average visit for Harry Potter studios tour is 2-3 hours. That seems like such a waste of time and money. I probably spent an hour just looking at the Hogwarts model at the end.

Your report made me realize it's time for me to go back!

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Such a fun read! We are going back to London next May and loved following along with you. Your enthusiasm is contagious!

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Maryellen, thanks for the trip report. It's so concise! (Unlike mine, lol.)

I'm surprised and disappointed at the uninspired breakfasts at the Phoenix. The two or three times we've stayed at the Kensington Gardens, we loved the breakfasts at the Phoenix. That was pre-pandemic, however, and I do know some hotels have kept up the less interesting breakfasts of pandemic times. Too bad.

And did you stay at the Phoenix itself, rather than KG? I tried to book KG earlier this year, and couldn't get it. We considered the Phoenix, but decided on a hotel in a different area, instead. We loved the KG, but it seems to have been updated into a "boutique" hotel, with corresponding rate increases. And we weren't getting the quick responses we were used to.

Oh, and I'm with you on the Tower of London. I've been twice, and each time I was underwhelmed.

Thanks again for your report. We're heading back to London next year, so I will bookmark your report for more ideas.

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Such a wonderful report Maryellen. It made me smile so many times reading through it. Also, brought back so many fond memories. I also got emotional several times just being there; I’m glad I am not alone! When you referred to having such a feeling for someplace you’ve never been- you described my feelings exactly! The coming up from the underground to see the Elizabeth Tower- like you I just stopped for a long time and took it in. It’s just such a beautiful site, especially with the recent conservation work showing off its amazing facade. My kids and I are already I chomping at the bit to return to England- we are all totally smitten. London will see me again, too someday- hopefully at Christmas!

You did such a great job as a tour planner! Kudos to you merging what you wanted to do with advice you read about. Loved that you enjoyed HP Studios! We didn’t make it there, but hope to in the future! Thanks again for taking time to share your experiences and memories!

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After the trip was over and we were discussing all we had seen, this
was the most disappointing part of the trip for each of us. I thought
there would be a lot more to it than a lot of suits of armor and
weaponry.

My favourite Trip Reports are those of places I've already been so I can get a different point of view. I loved the Tower and if asked, it was the hall with the suits of armour that was most memorable. We can agree though that Westminster Abbey is outstanding.

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872 posts

I love your honesty. Not everything is a five stars sight, and not to everyone. We’re headed to the Tower in a few weeks, but my expectations are around what you experienced. Still, looking forward to it. I enjoyed your descriptions of those most meaningful moments. Hope you share more :)

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Maryellen,
Again, such a thorough and delightful trip report! It was so fun to feel your excitement in Trafalgar Square. It brought back good memories.

Just wondering, do you have English ancestors who might have passed through Trafalgar Square?

Just this week we booked a trip to England for May. We plan to spend some time in London as we were only to Heathrow during our fall UK trip.

Thanks so much for your Report!

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550 posts

Sorry you were disappointed with Little Venice. The boats are a little run down an cluttered because they're people's homes. Living on a boat tends to attract the more "free spirited" type of folks. It's very much a lifestyle and community focussed thing. The graffiti, well that happens all over. I'd say to American friends that it's not always an indicator of a really rough neighbourhood like it might be in the US.

Did you think Camden Market smelled bad? :-) That sort of funk?

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5256 posts

I enjoyed reading your trip report and glad to hear that you enjoyed your Sunday roast. Perhaps the next goal is to enjoy a good home cooked one to elevate the experience.

And yes, we are a nation of dog lovers (I have two myself) and believe it or not but London is the only region in the UK where cat ownership is greater than dog ownership.

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Really appreciated your trip report about my fav city (except Venice, but I live here and visit there). Thanks

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For someone who likes Trafalgar Square, if you are ever in London on Good Friday, you should go the Passion of Jesus acted out in the square every year. The year I saw it, the rain was pouring and the play went on. I felt sorry for Jesus wearing only a loin cloth up on the cross for a while. Many of the other actors had warm clothes on under their costumes.

https://www.london.gov.uk/events/passion-jesus-trafalgar-square-2023

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3211 posts

Enjoyed your report! I hope to take our girls to London someday ( when they are older and can appreciate it). Like Allan, we loved the Tower, but yeah, the armory was not very interesting to me. You really did a lot! Evensong, dinner and the Six musical? Impressive!
I am surprised at your comment about Belgravia. This is where we stayed and thought it was a lovely neighborhood.

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8642 posts

Thanks for part 2 of your report.

Have you been to Rome? Talk about graffiti!

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Brilliant report on your time in London! I have very vivid memories still from my first time there in 2000--helping lead a high school student trip for 10 days. Seven and half hours at Harry Potter? That's amazing. Had no idea until I have read yours and others on this forum how much Harry Potter-related there is to see. My favorite part of the city was actually when I was able to get away by myself and wander Hampstead Heath. I also liked the robin discussion--did not realize that the American and English are different species, not two variations of the same bird. I remember I was hiking here in the Olympic Mountains with a friend from Scotland and he commented on how much more red the front of the American robin is vs the English (maybe again not realizing they are different birds?). So glad you had an incredible trip and felt such a strong connection there. Somehow I felt the same in Scotland.

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Ahhhh what a joy to read! I'm heading to London next year, and I had a big ol' smile on my face reading about your trip and imagining my own!

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275 posts

Again, such a thorough and delightful trip report! It was so fun to feel your excitement in Trafalgar Square. It brought back good memories.

Just wondering, do you have English ancestors who might have passed through Trafalgar Square?

Actually, my paternal grandfather was born in Kensington in 1872. He came to America at the age of 20, but had lived in the Paddington area until then. He worked at Great Western Rail as a "Vanguard, CH Driver" at the age of 15, according to the Railway Employment Records. I never met him, as he died in 1925 when my father was 2.

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275 posts

Have you been to Rome? Talk about graffiti!

Claudia,
No, but my daughters M and K have. We are planning a trip to Italy in 2025!

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I'm surprised and disappointed at the uninspired breakfasts at the Phoenix. The two or three times we've stayed at the Kensington Gardens, we loved the breakfasts at the Phoenix. That was pre-pandemic, however, and I do know some hotels have kept up the less interesting breakfasts of pandemic times. Too bad.

And did you stay at the Phoenix itself, rather than KG? I tried to book KG earlier this year, and couldn't get it. We considered the Phoenix, but decided on a hotel in a different area, instead. We loved the KG, but it seems to have been updated into a "boutique" hotel, with corresponding rate increases. And we weren't getting the quick responses we were used to.

Yes, we stayed at the Phoenix, although our pre-paid reservation that we made and paid for in November of 2022 was at KG. We got a great deal since it was prepaid and discounted for being 6 nights. I was disappointed because KG looked a bit more charming.

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275 posts

My favourite Trip Reports are those of places I've already been so I can get a different point of view. I loved the Tower and if asked, it was the hall with the suits of armour that was most memorable. We can agree though that Westminster Abbey is outstanding.

I enjoyed the armour display because I love history, but it did go on and on...I didn't need to see that many! I'm still glad we went, but I was expecting a bit more from it. It is interesting how we each get different things from what we visit.

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4045 posts

Loved your report! And I am glad you made it the trip you wanted! It is what makes it memorable! (I often do strange things in strange orders that I might not recommend - but that work for me.) :)

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6274 posts

Maryellen, what a wonderful trip report! I really got a sense of your excitement and the fun you had! Thank you for mentioning the good AND the bad as well! In fact, I've been on the fence about the Tower of London. I enjoyed it back in 1996 but it was not a "wow" place for me (although I did love the Ceremony of the Keys and plan on booking that again). But I decided to leave it off the list for this next trip and focus on some places that I really do want to see. I'll be back the following year with my grandkids so can always take them at that time.

So when and where is your next trip?

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275 posts

Maryellen, what a wonderful trip report! I really got a sense of your excitement and the fun you had! Thank you for mentioning the good AND the bad as well! In fact, I've been on the fence about the Tower of London. I enjoyed it back in 1996 but it was not a "wow" place for me (although I did love the Ceremony of the Keys and plan on booking that again). But I decided to leave it off the list for this next trip and focus on some places that I really do want to see. I'll be back the following year with my grandkids so can always take them at that time.

So when and where is your next trip?

Ceremony of the Keys does sound like it would be great to see.
We are tentatively planning a trip to Italy in 2025. Both M & K have been there (twice!) but hubby and I have not. We are thinking Rome, Florence, Venice.

I look forward to hearing about your upcoming trip as well!

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5674 posts

Mary Ellen,

One of the nice things about your report was how excited and thrilled you were to be in London. And it took me back to when I used to live and work in London, criss crossing daily between several different work sites.
And over the years I have lost that. These days I am always going somewhere specific and with the minimum of time, often on impossible schedules.
Tonight I was in London, and I had had a late switch to have to go way north on business to Bounds Green in Zone 4, rather than plan 1 which was south to Croydon, then Heathrow from Croydon, that had been another crazy schedule.

So I had a lot of time in hand tonight. There was also a rare planning error on my part where I thought I had to go from Waterloo to Trafalgar Square for a bus rather than take a bus direct from Waterloo. Then there were other issues as well with an error on both the TfL web site and citymapper. So I have been having a serious post mortem into what went wrong tonight.

And really I enjoyed myself so much, the walk across Hungerford Bridge, the Christmas stalls on the South Bank and at Trafalgar Square, the walk up to Leicester Square, it was a really happy set of bad circumstances. Even the Church Bells playing a hymn tune up at Wood Green. Simple things like the flower stalls at Embankment tube and the lanterns on Villiers Street.I

It gave me back that real excitement about London. Not maybe to being a tourist, but to being a local. I've never really been a proper tourist in London, and never could be.

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3745 posts

Great trip report! Well written and thorough.
I've really enjoyed reading it.
I agree with the above poster...it was great that you were so excited and thrilled to be in London.
Sorry to hear about the breakfast at your hotel being less than wonderful.

Your love of Trafalgar Square put a smile on my face.
Next time, I suggest you go into the church of St Martin-In-The-Fields to listen to music and also go downstairs to the Cafe In The Crypt. Great lunch place; sandwiches, salads, plate lunches and more.
I can suggest a great place to stay next time, right near Trafalgar Square, if you ever want that.

I have a question about what you wrote regarding the Tower of London:
"After the trip was over and we were discussing all we had seen, was the most disappointing part of the trip for each of us. I thought there would be a lot more to it than a lot of suits of armor and weaponry. The historical events did not seem to be a focus in any of what we saw."

The very last sentence. Which historical events would you like to see them focus on, or tell more about in signage, exhibits, etc.?

(I'm asking because I think your answer(s) will be interesting. I think it is an interesting question, and you have raised an interesting point with your comment.)

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What a wonderfully written trip report and it sounds like a magical trip! My family trip with 19 and 15 yo "kids" is coming up soon and we have some similarities in our itinerary.

We are also thinking of doing the "Abbey Road-Little Venice- Camden Market" (although I can tell it wasn't your favorite.....anywho...). Do you remember how long that morning took? I am trying to see where it will fit into my other activities.

Thanks!!

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275 posts

Your love of Trafalgar Square put a smile on my face.
Next time, I suggest you go into the church of St Martin-In-The-Fields to listen to music and also go downstairs to the Cafe In The Crypt. Great lunch place; sandwiches, salads, plate lunches and more.
I can suggest a great place to stay next time, right near Trafalgar Square, if you ever want that.

Rebecca, we meant to go there and completely forgot once we were in London! Guess I'll just have to go back...
I would love to hear the suggestion, as I was feeling that I'd like to be closer to that area if/when I go back.

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275 posts

I have a question about what you wrote regarding the Tower of London:
"After the trip was over and we were discussing all we had seen, was the most disappointing part of the trip for each of us. I thought there would be a lot more to it than a lot of suits of armor and weaponry. The historical events did not seem to be a focus in any of what we saw."

The very last sentence. Which historical events would you like to see them focus on, or tell more about in signage, exhibits, etc.?

That's a good question, and I'm not sure I can answer it well. It's just that most of what I know of the Tower of London are the stories of it being a place to "imprison" someone who has made the monarch unhappy/threatened. Elizabeth I before she was queen, Anne Boleyn, the young princes...
They were mentioned, but it seemed very surface level, with a lot of pointing out that the Tower wasn't primarily a "prison". Almost like they wanted to defend the reputation of the Tower and brush the stories aside as inconsequential. Which is fine, it wasn't just a prison. They also seemed to really want us to understand that the majority of the beheadings took place outside the walls, like the Tower was trying to impress us that it wasn't a mean place.
I guess I thought it would be more than a weapons/armor museum. The Crown Jewels area was the highlight for me. Or maybe I just wasn't in the right mood that day!

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275 posts

And really I enjoyed myself so much, the walk across Hungerford Bridge, the Christmas stalls on the South Bank and at Trafalgar Square, the walk up to Leicester Square, it was a really happy set of bad circumstances. Even the Church Bells playing a hymn tune up at Wood Green. Simple things like the flower stalls at Embankment tube and the lanterns on Villiers Street.I

It gave me back that real excitement about London. Not maybe to being a tourist, but to being a local. I've never really been a proper tourist in London, and never could be.

This makes me so happy. I'm so glad you got to have those moments and were able to fully enjoy them.

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275 posts

We are also thinking of doing the "Abbey Road-Little Venice- Camden Market" (although I can tell it wasn't your favorite.....anywho...). Do you remember how long that morning took? I am trying to see where it will fit into my other activities.

Becky,

I checked the timestamp on my photos. We were at Abbey Road between 9:20-9:30, then took a bus to Little Venice. My first photo from the boat was at 9:55. Not sure when we got off the boat. We walked from there to Euston, and my photo of Speedy's Cafe was at 11:22.

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3745 posts

MaryEllen, about the Tower of London, I totally agree with what you said.
I would like to see on display, a long, long strip that is a continuous timeline of the history of the Tower of London. I think it would be helpful to have events and people placed on the timeline, with a couple of paragraphs about each one.

As promised, here is an apartment/hotel just steps away from Trafalgar Square.
Citadines Trafalgar Square:
https://www.discoverasr.com/en/citadines/united-kingdom/citadines-trafalgar-square-london/location
Choose from a studio or a one or two bedroom apartment.
https://www.discoverasr.com/en/citadines/united-kingdom/citadines-trafalgar-square-london
Check in at the front desk.
Breakfast is included.

Thanks again for taking the time to post your excellent trip report here!
I hope you get back to London soon.

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2329 posts

What a great trip report! It's nice when travel provokes emotion like you had.

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6274 posts

So when and where is your next trip?

Ceremony of the Keys does sound like it would be great to see.
We are tentatively planning a trip to Italy in 2025. Both M & K have been there (twice!) but hubby and I have not. We are thinking Rome, Florence, Venice.

Mary Ellen, I just came across this and realized I never saw it before (I really wish we would get notified of replies to comments). Anyway, I will be in England from March 19 through April 25 (and London for the first 5 nights). Italy would be wonderful - I've been there twice but really want to head back at some point.

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954 posts

What an amazing Trip Report! We LOVED the V&A so very much. Victoria's stunning sapphire and diamond coronet ...

I like your style and pace of travel. We are cut from the same cloth! Thank you for sharing!