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Two weeks in London and Wales

My two daughters, ages 13 and 9, and I went to the UK on May 27th and returned on June 10th. We had a blast, and this is my trip report.

Day 1: (Sunday) Flying out of New Orleans. We flew United Airlines to Houston, where we caught our connecting flight to London. This was my younger daughter's first flight. It is a short flight, but about twenty minutes in, the oxygen masks popped out of the ceiling. Everyone just looked at them for about a full (long) minute. No one put them on. I think everyone thought it was just a malfunction. But then the flight attendant made an announcement that the plane was losing compression, and we needed to put them on until the pilot got the plane to a lower elevation. So everyone put them on at that point. My older daughter took it in stride, but my younger was in tears. I was pretty nervous too. Soon we were down to a lower elevation and were able to take the oxygen masks off. The rest of the flight was uneventful, and we landed safely. In the Houston airport, I was chatting with a flight attendant who was also waiting for our London flight, and told her what had happened. She said in thirty-three years of flying, that's only happened to her twice, so it was really bad luck that it happened on my daughter's first flight! She was very nice and arranged for my daughters and I to meet the pilot on our flight, and my younger daughter got to sit in the pilot's chair and wear his hat. So it turned out ok, and my daughter enjoyed the rest of our journey to England. Not an auspicious beginning, but certainly interesting!

Day 2 (Monday): Landed at Heathrow at about 7:30am. Walked and walked to Immigration, and there was a line, but it moved quickly. Everyone friendly and helpful. We didn't have bags to get from baggage claim, because we only had our carry ons and personal items. Got our oyster cards (my youngest was a little put out that she didn't get one because she's free!) and got on the tube. Our destination was Victoria Tube Station, so we changed from the Piccadilly line to the District line at Hammersmith, as I had read on this forum to do. It was very easy, just as I was told. Got off at Victoria Tube Station and was a little disoriented at first, but got my phone out and used Google Maps to get directions to our hotel. We stayed at the Windermere on Warwick Way about a ten minute walk from the tube station. The Windermere is a small hotel in an old building and it was cute. The staff was very nice. It was too early to check in, but they took our bags and gave us a little map. So we walked down Buckingham Palace Rd and saw the palace. We did a Hop on Hop Off bus tour, not sure now which company, but it had recorded commentary, not live. It was okay, and we saw some things we wouldn't have otherwise seen, but it was a hot sunny day (for England in June. I think it got up to about 82 degrees Farenheit) and the buses weren't air conditioned. We got hot and sleepy, and we all took turns nodding off. I'm not sure where we ended up eating lunch and dinner that day. We got back to the hotel and were given our room.

The hotel has a lift, which we took, and then had to go down some stairs and up some more. We didn't mind the stairs, we found the building interesting. The room was nice, with a double bed and a twin bed. The bathroom was small but clean and new. We loved that we could open the window and not have to worry about mosquitoes! (we were on the third floor) You can't do that here in Louisiana. The room had air conditioning which didn't work at first, but a hotel worker came up and fixed it, and it was fine for the rest of our stay.

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1040 posts

Mary, thanks for taking the time to make a trip report. Despite your inauspicious start, it sounds like things turned around for you. Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures!

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177 posts

Day Three (Tuesday): Got up early and had breakfast at the hotel. It was included in our price. It was good, there was a small buffet with pastries and yogurt, and cereal, and they would take your order if you wanted eggs or sausage or something cooked. We were pleased enough with the breakfast. We had decided to do the London Walks daytrip to Salisbury and Stonehenge, so took a taxi to Waterloo Train Station to meet the guide. We paid her (I'm really sorry I can't remember her name, but she was great), and she bought the tickets for everyone. It wasn't a large group. And this is where we met Candice, who is also a member of this forum.

Salisbury was wonderful. We walked from the train station, through a park, and down some streets to get to the Cathedral, with our guide pointing things out and telling us all about things on the way. It started raining a bit, not too bad at first. We went in the cathedral and it was beautiful of course. I highly recommend this tour. There are a lot of interesting things about this cathedral, not least of which is the copy of the Magna Carta. It was pretty awe inspiring to see it. We ate at the cathedral cafe because by this time it was raining, and I didn't have an umbrella, so we didn't want to walk into town. It was one of those things I didn't pack, because they have umbrellas in London, right? And I can just get one when I get there! Except yesterday was hot and sunny and I didn't think about it, so here I was with my girls, stuck in the rain with no umbrella! The gift shop didn't have any, I checked. Some of the nice people on the tour let us stand under their umbrellas, but I felt bad about not having such an obviously necessary item.

After this we went by bus to Stonehenge. It was a nice drive through the countryside. We saw Old Sarum from a distance. We got to the Stonehenge visitor center and parked. Then we had to wait for the shuttle to take us to the site. Of course at this time it started to pour. And it was windy and cold! My daughters were fine with it, but I was freezing and pretty miserable. I just took a walk around the stones and got back on the shuttle. I saw Stonehenge in 2004 when my husband and I visited England for our honeymoon. They had some umbrellas in the gift shop, but they were large and cost about 25 pounds. Which I didn't want to spend on a big umbrella that I wouldn't want to carry around with me, and wouldn't be able to take home. The tour was pretty much over by this time anyway. We got back to Salisbury and took the train back to Waterloo station. We mentioned to Candice that we were planning to to the London Walks Tower of London tour in the morning. We got supper from a shop in the station. We were pretty tired by this time and went back to the hotel. Other than the rain, this tour was great. Our guide was witty and informed and personable. I am very happy that we went.

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3239 posts

We just got back from Scotland and England and except for a chilly day in Avebury and Lacock, the weather was beautiful. Like us, I imagine you really enjoyed the days that were in the 60's and coming home has been a rude awakening! My daughter was not happy that we had spent so much time planning/buying and lugging around clothing for cold and rainy weather-I told her the fact that we brought all those clothes is probably the reason we didn't need them! I always assume it will pour rain and be chilly when packing for the UK.

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Day 4 (Wednesday): Ate breakfast at the hotel and got on the tube at Victoria Station. Got off at Tower Hill for our London Walks tour. We were early, so walked around a little. On the other side of the tube station there is a little playground, and a big piece of the Roman Wall. You could walk right up and touch it, which I did, of course! My youngest really enjoyed the little playground. Then we went back to the tube station entrance to meet the guide. His name was Brian, and he was great. Candice met us outside the tube station, and it was really fun hanging out with her. Our guide showed us around the tower for about two hours and then we were on our own. It was another great tour that I highly recommend. After the tour was over, we went with Candice to see the crown jewels. The line was long but moved fast. We also saw the White Tower and the torture chamber and went into the Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula. This meant a lot to me, because for whatever reason, I hadn't gone into it when I was in London in 2004. It is where Lady Jane Grey, Ann Boleyn, and Catherine Howard are buried, among others. I've been a student of English history since I was in seventh grade, and their stories have always made me sad and thoughtful. Going into this chapel was one of the highlights of the whole trip for me. You can't go in the chapel by yourself, you have to go in with a Beefeater tour, so we just tagged along with one that was going in. It was very moving for me.

The Tower of London closed at 5pm, and by that time we were in the gift shop. It got so crowded with people leaving the tower that I left the items I was going to buy and just left because the line at the check out was ridiculous. And if you know me, you know I love a good gift shop, and buying a souvenir or two! But this was just too much.

I think we got supper at the Tesco a few blocks from our hotel. They have pre-made sandwiches and we also got some chips and yogurt and drinks. The girls thought this was great fun. Tesco was our friend throughout our whole trip.

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177 posts

Thanks Patricia! I'll add more tomorrow. I think I've written as much as I can today!

Cala, the weather was great for most of the trip. We only had a lot of rain that one day. The rest of the time the temps were in the 60's or 70's and it would be cloudy/sunny off and on. We loved it! We did not miss the heat and humidity of Louisiana at all!

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276 posts

What wonderful memories for your girls, O2 masks and all, my goodness. How nice that the pilot took time with your little one. Nice to hear post 9/11. Looking forward to more of your adventure.

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177 posts

Thanks highland! It really was neat that we got to see the cockpit and talk to the pilots. Now that it's all over my daughter just thinks it's cool that she has a story to tell.

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11292 posts

Thanks for taking the time to post this report!

"Now that it's all over my daughter just thinks it's cool that she has a story to tell."

That was my initial thought too. She's probably too young to fully appreciate this, but most people, even very frequent flyers (like the flight attendant you spoke to) have never had the oxygen masks actually drop on their plane. Talk about one-upmanship at parties!

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177 posts

Day 5 (Thursday): Decided to do the Westminster Abbey London Walks tour. As we were crossing the street to Westminster Abbey, the guide recommended we stay together, as big groups are less likely to get run down by cars! We split up into two groups when we got into the Abbey, because there were a lot of people (there were two guides, of course). Again, the tour was great and very informative. Our guide was wonderful. Candice also did this tour with us. We ate lunch in the Abbey cafe, but it wasn't really lunch because something was wrong in the kitchen and they couldn't cook anything. So I told my daughters that just this once we would have desert for lunch. We were all pretty happy. It's hard to say too much about Westminster Abbey. Seeing the coronation chair and the tomb of the unknown soldier, and all the graves of deceased kings and queens is truly moving. And the building is so beautiful. I could stay in there for days, but my nine year old's eyes were starting to glaze over. She enjoyed the Abbey garden most of all. It really has some beautiful flowers.

We went back to the hotel a bit early this day because we needed to wash clothes. We packed a carry on suitcase with our dirty clothes and wheeled it a couple of blocks to the Pimlico Launderette. The lady who worked there was very helpful. She gave me change and explained how the machines worked. It didn't take long at all, and we had a nice conversation with a local lady who said she lived in Florida for a while some years ago.

Since we didn't get a real lunch, we decided to eat at a restaurant instead of just getting food at Tesco, and we ate at Grumbles, on Churton Street in Pimlico one evening. We weren't overly impressed, but we tend to be picky, unsophisticated eaters, and I think others might enjoy it very much. It was okay.

We had to pack up, because we were checking out of our hotel the next day and catching the train to Chester!

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Day 6 (Friday): Got up early, ate breakfast at the hotel, and checked out. I forgot to mention that the Windermere is one of those hotels that asks you to leave the key if you leave the hotel. It's a real key, not a key card. This didn't bother me. We enjoyed our stay at the Windermere and would stay there again. It is a nice quiet area that is close to tube stops, Tesco, and a launderette. The staff were friendly and helpful and the breakfast was good.

We went to Euston Train station and got our tickets from the machine. I think I just typed in a confirmation number and inserted my credit card and it spit the tickets right out. Then we had to find out which platform we needed to go to. The board had our train, but the platform number didn't come up until about two minutes before boarding, so everyone rushed for the platform. It was annoying because a lot of other trains got their platform numbers way before boarding. Of course, there is probably a reason for it happening that way, but I just don't know it, so will complain! We had a nice ride to Chester.

At the Chester station, we got a taxi and went to our hotel, the Bridge Street Townhouse on Lower Bridge Street. We couldn't check in until 3pm, so we left our bags and got a taxi to the Enterprise car hire.

At Enterprise, our car wasn't ready yet, so we walked over to Tesco. Up until now we had only been to small Tesco Expresses, but this one was big and brand new and very bright. We liked it very much. We bought a few things and headed back to Enterprise. Got in the car and thus started my adventure in driving on the other side of the road. I can't express how stressful this was for me. Fortunately, my older daughter (almost 14) was a great navigator with her googlemaps. But getting back into central Chester to the car park was difficult and took us a while. By the time we got there, I was about ready to turn around and bring the car back. I felt like crying but didn't because I didn't want to upset my daughters. I know some people transition just fine, but I am not one of those people, apparently.

We walked from the car park back to the hotel. We had booked the family room and it was on the top floor. I mean the TOP floor. So many steps, and when you thought there couldn't be anymore, there were more! There were two twin beds and a really big bed, I think it was a king size. There was no air conditioning (I didn't expect air, so I wasn't annoyed), and there was a teeny tiny window that could be opened. There was a fan in the room. Of course, when I booked the room, and was okay with no air conditioning, I didn't know that it was on a top attic floor with only one tiny window. (I kind of wondered what would happen if there was a fire. My youngest might have fit through that window, but not me or my oldest daughter.)

But we left our stuff and went exploring in Chester. We walked the walls and saw the cathedral (didn't go in). There were some good street musicians. We ate at La Fattoria on Lower Bridge Street. My kids are picky, but they both like Italian food. They had the spaghetti and I had pizza. It was very good. Good food, good service, and reasonable prices.

Sleeping that night was a bit difficult, because it was hot in our room. We all slept in the big bed with the fan pointed at us. Yes, the bed was big enough that we all had plenty of room. At some point in the night, the temperature dropped a bit, and it wasn't so bad. But I wouldn't choose this room again.

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Day 7 (Saturday): It was drizzling a bit, which made me nervous about driving. But we got into the car and managed to drive out of Chester without incident. Driving on the the A483, we set off for Wales! I had contacted a distant cousin of mine months earlier, and although she was not going to be home (she actually was going to be in the US when I was in the UK, what are the odds?) she arranged for a genealogist friend to guide us around and show us our ancestral homes. He was a native of the area and knew where everything was. Driving on the freeway and on main roads was much easier than driving in Chester, and I did get better at roundabouts. We arrived at our meeting point near Lake Vyrnwy in about two hours. We met up with our guide, Ken, who suggested we ride with him, because some of the houses were in roads that were rough. We took him up on this (I was relieved to be out of the driver's seat!). And the weather cleared up and it was partly sunny.

We saw three ancestral homes, and they were in some pretty remote areas. Yes, we did actually have to stop once to let a sheep cross the road, and of course my daughters thought that was great! Our guide would stop every now and then and speak with someone who was outside (he knew everyone) and I really enjoyed hearing Welsh spoken. Seeing the places where my ancestors lived was, well, it's hard to explain. It's something I've always wanted to do, and being there was so special. One of the houses had a stream flowing behind it, and we took a few creek rocks home. The countryside was breathtakingly beautiful. We stopped at a shop by Lake Vyrnwy and my daughters got ice cream. The lake is gorgeous, but my third great grandmother is probably buried underneath it, in the village that was flooded to create the lake.

That afternoon we said goodbye to our guide and started driving north to Llandudno. I had decided about a month before we left on our trip, that I probably would rather just drive to North Wales instead of driving back to Chester and then driving to North Wales the next day. So I booked a room in Llandudno even though we already had the room in Chester for three nights. I'm glad I did. We drove through Snowdonia, and again, words can't describe the beauty of the countryside. Of course, I couldn't concentrate on it like I wanted, because I was concentrating so hard on the roads. Most of the time it was okay, but when we'd drive through a small town, the roads could be difficult. Often, there was a wall on one side, with cars parked next to it (and that was my lane!) and getting around that without hitting on coming cars was scary. We stopped at a roadside restaurant and had lunch. I ordered a BLT, but got a sandwich with bacon, cheese, and some kind of jam on it. The kids had macaroni and cheese which was a bit different than they're used to, but they ate it. We managed to get to Llandudno without damaging the car, thank goodness.

We stayed at the Gwesty Links, which is on Conwy Rd in Llandudno. We loved this hotel. This room wasn't air conditioned either, but it had nice big windows that opened, so we were fine. It was on an upper floor, but we didn't mind that. We had a suite. I had a queen sized bed in my room, and there were two twins in the adjoining room. The bathroom was nice, clean, and modern. This hotel is also a pub, but we didn't eat there. I would have liked to, but the kids wanted McDonald's, which is unusual for them, so we ate there. Had the worst big mac I've ever eaten, but the kids' food was okay. We asked a nice lady on the street how to get to the beach, and she pointed us in the right direction. It wasn't far at all.

It is a rocky beach and the girls had fun looking for some rocks to take home as souvenirs. It was cloudy and cool but it was still really pretty. The old hotels across the street from the beach are really interesting. We ended the day by watching Speed (with Sandra Bullock) on tv in the hotel room.

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Hi Emma! We parked at the Pepper Street car park. It's really just around the corner. Chester was wonderful, but I was so stressed while I was there due to the driving, that it was hard to enjoy it. I was so glad when it was time to turn the car in!

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Day 8 (Sunday): We slept in a little and then went down to breakfast, which was good. Checked out and drove to Conwy Castle. The castle was great, and a lot of fun. We spent a few hours, and the girls had fun climbing the towers inside it. Got some good pictures of them at the top. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Conwy is a lovely town. We visited the castle gift shop and I got a nice scarf made from Welsh sheep wool.

When we got our tickets for the castle, they offered tickets for an Elizabethan house also, so we said, "why not?" And we were so glad we did! It's just a few blocks from the castle, and has been restored to look like it looked in Elizabethan times, with a lot of it being original. They also had Elizabethan period clothing that you could dress up in. They had sizes for kids through adults. My daughters had a lot of fun with that.

Then we got in the car and drove back to Chester. We didn't have any trouble getting out of Conwy onto the North Wales Expressway. Driving on the expressway was pretty easy. We did have trouble getting back into Chester. We took the wrong turn on a roundabout and ended up going in the wrong direction. Getting back to the car park was frustrating. But we managed. My daughter was just great as a navigator and I can't praise her enough.

When I planned this trip, I envisioned visiting several castles on Sunday in Northern Wales, but I admit that the driving was just too stressful, and I just wanted to get back to Chester.

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Day 9 (Monday): Started out with an early breakfast, which we enjoyed. However, breakfast was supposed to be included in the price of the room, but they charged me for it when we checked out! I told the desk clerk, and he just looked at his computer and said, no it wasn't included. I went ahead and paid, but I checked my paperwork later, and it was supposed to be included. That, and the hot, almost windowless room did not leave me with the most favorable impression of this hotel. I would not stay there again.

Managed to get to the Enterprise car rental without incident. I was so happy to turn the car in! They took us, along with another client, to the train station in a van. We got to the train station a bit early and sat down to wait. Then my older daughter realized she didn't have her phone. She looked everywhere and said she must have left it in the van. I was very annoyed with her and was about to have this just be a lesson in taking care of your phone. But it turned out that the train we were going to take was cancelled. I spoke with the customer service person, and they pointed out that I had an offpeak ticket, so could pretty much take any train that day back to London. Since we had plenty of time, we got a cab and went back to Enterprise. Sure enough, they had my daughter's phone (They were really nice at Enterprise. I highly recommend the Chester location.) The taxi took us back to the train station and I gave the driver a good tip because he saved the day for my daughter.

We arrived back in London at around 2:30pm, and walked from Euston Station to our hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton London Islington. It is on Pentonville Rd. It's not a terrible walk from the station, but with our suitcases it seemed a bit long. But when we got there they greeted us with warm cookies and said our room was ready. This is a nice hotel, with rooms comparable in size to what you would find in the states. The beds were comfy and the bathroom was nice and clean and new, except the sink drained slowly. But I'm not complaining about that. And it had air conditioning! And a nice elevator with a woman's voice that said, "Going up!" or "Going down!" We were on the first floor. We were tired, so decided to just call it a day and take showers and watch tv. We did go to Tesco, a few blocks away, that evening. Our hotel had a little refrigerator, which was nice, so we could store drinks and yogurt and the like.

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177 posts

It really was a tight squeeze, and we had a tiny car. But there were SUVs in there, and I bet they really had a hard time getting in and out! Tell your mom I'm joining her support group! :D

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Day 10 (Tuesday): The breakfast at the Doubletree was really great. They had pancakes and waffles, bacon, sausage, eggs, fruit, cereal, etc, on the buffet.
Today we did the London Eye. I got tickets on line for 11:00am. We got there early and they let us get on because there was no line. It was kind of cloudy, so maybe not the best day for the eye, but it was nice that there was no line. The view was great. Got lots of pictures.

After this, we did the Thames River Service cruise to Greenwich. The commentary given by the boat captain was really great, although for some reason it really annoyed my younger daughter. She kept wanting him to be quiet, and my older daughter kept explaining to her that without it we wouldn't know what we were looking at. We were on the top level of the boat, inside. You could sit outside, but it was cool and drizzly, so we stayed in. Soon after we got to Greenwich in cleared up.

At Greenwich we found a cute little restaurant called Green Village. It is on Greenwich Church St. I ordered the roast turkey with potatoes and vegetables, and my older daughter got the chicken with potatoes and vegetables. My younger daughter had chicken nuggets. Everyone enjoyed their food, it was delicious. I recommend this restaurant. After this we walked up the hill to the Royal Observatory. We went through the museum and saw the Prime Meridian. We enjoyed it very much. After this we went to the playground in Greenwich Park. It was here that I realized I didn't have my phone! I figured that I must have left it in the gift shop, as I couldn't think of anywhere else that I would have put it down. So we trudged back up the hill (It's quite a walk!) and I asked them if they'd found a phone. They said yes, but it had been given to security, and I would have to check with them. I did so and they asked me to identify it by the picture that is on the screen when you turn it on. I said, "A baby," and he smiled and gave me the phone. I was so relieved! I apologized to my daughter for fussing at her when she lost her phone, since I did the same thing.

My daughters spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the playground. We took the Docklands Light Rail back to Bank station, and then switched to the Northern Line which took us to the tube stop near our hotel. We needed to wash some clothes, but weren't back in time to go to the launderette, because you have to start the load at least an hour and a half before they close. So we hand washed a few things, Rick Steves style.

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Day 11 (Wednesday): Today we went to Oxford. I booked the tickets the night before. I got offpeak tickets, so we could come back when we wanted. This was probably the most unresearched part of the trip. We knew we wanted to see Christ Church, and see the dining hall that is the inspiration for Hogwart's dining hall.

We got to Oxford and took off walking. Found the tourist center and got a map and some directions to Christ Church. On the way we walked around an indoor market that was really interesting. There were some great street musicians too. We got to Christ Church and saw the cathedral. It was really beautiful. And it was special to hear the Lord's Prayer said by the priest while we were there. We had to wait a while to see the dining hall, because it was in use. But we were in the front of the line when it was opened. We were amazed at how much it really looked like Hogwarts, although smaller.

After this we walked around Oxford, looking at the old college buildings and people watching. We got ice cream from a street vendor. Saw the outside of the castle before we left. My older daughter bought an Oxford University sweatshirt from a souvenir vendor on the street. It's really nice and looks authentic.

We were tired when we got back to the hotel, so I ordered room service. I got a club sandwich and a salad, and my daughters ordered macaroni and cheese and chocolate ice cream. It was all really good! We were very pleased. We hadn't eaten at the hotel restaurant, because it was a little pricey and I don't like to spend that much only to have my picky kids not like the food. So I was pleasantly relieved.

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61 posts

You and your girls are having so much fun, and a little distress! Loved reading your report.

First time driving in Europe and you choose the wrong lane country! You go girl!! You have great courage and seem to be doing fine!

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1930 posts

I once drove the narrow road north from Lake Vyrnwy to Bala - it had grass growing in the middle!

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4731 posts

The Oxford Covered Market was opened to clear all the market stalls that used to clog up the streets - a little matter of 244 years ago.

The Westgate Centre opening only last year has tended to pull the shopping crowds into that part of the City away from the likes of Cornmarket, and the Covered Market is therefore suffering.

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177 posts

Thanks terpgeekholtz, I really didn't think it would be as hard as it was! But I'm really glad I persevered and pushed through it, because otherwise I wouldn't have gotten to see my ancestral homes. And that was the most special part of the trip.

James, it is a beautiful trip, from Lake Vyrnwy north, isn't it? Wales looks a lot like my home state of Virginia (I'm from the Shenandoah Valley). I felt right at home. It would be so easy to live there! (except for the driving! :D)

Thanks for that info about the covered market, Marco. It's very interesting. We loved Oxford.

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Day 12 (Thursday): Today we decided to go to Hyde Park and the British Museum. Took the tube from King's Cross to Hyde Park Corner. Walked into the park. I liked seeing the sign for Rotten Row, which I believe is where the rich folks used to ride their horses and ride in Phaetons and such. I used to read a lot of historical romances, and this was a common occurrence in them. Walked to the Serpentine, and my daughters were delighted with all the ducks and geese and swans. There were even some baby ducks. Went to the playground and the girls had fun playing with each other and with the other kids. They have swings and see saws and other equipment. After about an hour of that we rented one of the paddle boats on the Serpentine. We paid for 30 minutes. At first I thought my younger daughter's legs weren't long enough to paddle, but it turned out they were, so I got to relax! It was pretty nice except for their arguing about who got to steer the boat.

After we turned the boat in, we got hotdogs at the shop adjoining the boat rental. This was the worst hot dog I've ever eaten! The bun was sweet, and the hot dog was just...different from what I'm used to. My older daughter felt the same way, but my younger said it wasn't that bad. She ate most of hers while we threw ours away.

Took the tube to the Russell Square stop, got out and found the British Museum. There was no line, so we breezed through security. It was great. I could have gotten lost in there and been totally happy. My older daughter and I agreed that we wanted to see Egypt, Greece, and Rome, so that's what we concentrated on. Got a great picture by the Rosetta Stone. Unfortunately my younger daughter wasn't so thrilled with the museum.

We ate at the Pizzeria in the museum. It was okay. Not great, but I didn't expect much from a pizzeria in a museum. And by this time we were hungry because of the hot dog fiasco earlier. The gift shop seems to go on and on forever. And I think there's more than one. But I may have mentioned that I love a good gift shop!

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Day 13 (Friday): Originally, when I booked my hotels, we had planned to go to Paris. We would have been there from Tuesday to Friday. But I decided I didn't want to deal with the train strike, so cancelled the Paris hotel room. When I cancelled it, I just added three nights to the Doubletree, which had originally been booked for only the Monday night after we got back from Wales. When we got back from Paris on Friday, we would have check into the Novotel Blackfriars on the Southbank. Well, we didn't go to Paris, but I didn't cancel the Novotel, so we packed up our stuff and moved from the Doubletree to the Novotel. We took a taxi, and the driver took us right through a construction zone. I could see that he had his googlemaps on, so he knew about the traffic. Not sure if he did this to make the trip longer, and therefore more expensive, or not.

We arrived at the Novotel Blackfriars at about 10am. We couldn't check in yet, but left our bags. We walked toward the Millenium Bridge, and stumbled upon the Tate Modern, which I hadn't planned on visiting. There was a singer outside of the museum. She was really good, and I wish I could remember her name. If I remember, I'll post it. We listened to her for a bit, until she finished her show. Then we walked across the Millenium Bridge. We looked at St. Paul's cathedral, didn't go inside. My younger daughter was cathedraled out by this time. She said she'd rather visit the Tate Modern. So we did that. It was very interesting! I'm not a big modern art fan, but we enjoyed it very much. We ate at the cafe, and it wasn't great, but again, what can you expect from a museum cafe.

By this time we were ready to go back to the hotel and check in. Our room was ready. We loved this hotel! Very modern and bright. We had a queen bed and a sofa bed. The shower was interesting in that you could make the walls clear and see through with the touch of a button if you wanted to. Or you could leave it opaque, which we did, of course. My daughters had fun with the button, turning it from clear to opaque, when they weren't in the shower. (I didn't let them play with it too much. Didn't want it to break!)

This hotel has a pool, which is one reason why I chose it. So we went swimming that afternoon. The water temperature was just about perfect. The pool has a spa pool adjoining it, with jets. It's not a hot tub, because it is connected with the rest of the pool, and uses the same water. But the jets are nice, and it was relaxing to sit in it. The girls liked it too, but technically no one under sixteen is supposed to be in the spa pool part of the pool. But we were the only ones in the pool for a good while, and I did let them in for a bit.

We ate at the hotel restaurant. We each ordered pizza. We assumed that the pizzas were personal sized, but when they came they were each about the size of a small domino's pizza! I was a bit miffed at the waiter for not letting us know, because obviously we didn't want three pizzas of this size. But we ate as much as we could and took the rest up to the room with us.

The only problem I had with our room was that the tv didn't have a guide, or at least didn't have one that I could find. You just had to scroll up or down the channels, and see what was on. But otherwise, this hotel was great.

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Day 14 (Saturday): We were supposed to meet Candice and do the Trooping the Colour, but we didn't want to get up early enough to get decent places. Of course, after seeing Candice's great pictures, I wish we had (I hope Candice does a trip report).

But we had a great day anyway. Breakfast at the Novotel is great. A buffet with just about everything you could want.

After breakfast we took the tube to Green Park. Walked down Piccadilly to Hatchard's Bookstore. It is the oldest in London, I think it opened in 1797. And has been in the same spot ever since. Again, this is a place I've read about in the historical romances I used to read. (I don't only read fluff, I swear!) It was really fun finding books here. My daughters and I went to our respective sections and found our selections. I also found something for my grandbaby. I got a nice tote bag too. It is a really nice store, with a staircase in the middle going up several floors. The staircase has beautiful wood railings. After this we walked to Piccadilly Circus and took a picture.

Got back on the tube at Green Park and went to the Gloucester Rd stop. Afterward found out that the Knightsbridge stop would have been better for the Victoria and Albert Museum. We looked around the V&A (another place I could get lost in)for an hour or so, and then went to the Natural History Museum, pretty much next door. My youngest LOVED this (I did too!). So much to see! Of course, we saw the dinosaur bones, and a lot more.

I don't remember what we did for lunch that day, but we ended up in Hyde Park again late that afternoon, and had dinner at the restaurant on the Serpentine. I had the fish and chips. It was pretty good, I thought.

Went back to the hotel, and my younger daughter went swimming. My older daughter's eyes burned so bad with the chlorine the day before that she decided not to swim again. So I took the younger to the pool without her. This time the pool was packed with people, probably because it was later in the day. But she had fun. Ended the day with packing our things to be ready to fly out the next day. Tried to use the United Airlines Ap to check in and get our boarding passes, but it wouldn't work and I ended up just using the kiosk at the airport, which was really easy.

The next day we checked out and took the tube from the Southwark tube stop (just one block from our hotel) to Green Park, where we changed to the Piccadilly Line. It wasn't bad because it was Sunday morning and it wasn't crowded at all.

We loved our trip! We had so much fun and took so many pictures. But we were also happy to get home to Daddy, who had been tending the garden at home. We skyped with him every night, but still missed him. It will probably be a while before we do another trip like this, but I'm sure I'll be planning something soon.