Between you and me, I really have not been sure how to split up our trip to share with you all the things we got up to. It’s 2 weeks since got back & I feel I need to get on with it, so I have decided to just start with London. It’s a big old city and we saw as much of it as our budget and energy would allow! In two days!!
I am not going to talk about the motel we stayed at. Because it was disgusting. Completely awful. On Instagram I think I mentioned that we got an “upgrade”, but I was trying to be positive. We did technically get an upgrade, but only because the roof was leaking in our original room. Tiny original room. Tiny!! It was actually quite tricky to walk around and between the beds without taking out a knee. Or a toe. It was a room “suitable for families”, or so it said in the website. Not sure what kind of families they have had previously. Maybe ones with no knees. Or toes. I knew two of us would be sharing a bed, and that’d be ok. With a single and Queen we’d be able to work it out. Except it was more like a trundle and a double. And while the sheets were clean and white, the bed spread was for an even smaller sized bed. And nylon-ish. And way too slick. Not dirty, but shiny in a bad vintage kind of way. And the bathroom, holy moly. Nasty. Again, nothing actually dirty, but nothing fresh either. But I’m not going to talk about it. We are calling it an “adventure”. And this was the view we had along the road…
So it could have been worse. Maybe. Maybe not.When I booked it, I looked purely at locations (+ limited by budget), as we had a train to Paris to catch and I wanted to be close by for an early morning start. Next time we’ll just cab it to the train station! But in the mean time, this is King’s Cross train station, stunning.
So, we did have our day in Paris, but I’m going to tell you about London. Being a chronic non-planner, we kind of whinged it a bit which was cool.
When we arrived on the train from Surrey, we tried to find lockers to store our overnight bags. I knew that they had been removed from all train stations in London in the 80’s but thought maybe by now they were back. They are not, so luckily we had packed light, and had backpacks so carrying them was not too annoying.
First we headed to the Borough Markets. Being a week day, it wasn’t at its weekend finest, but we still got the feel of it all. Loads of food markets open and plenty of “taste testers” to try.
After filling our tummies, we decided to go to Madame Tussauds. This is a childhood favourite of mine, and we were all keen to “rub shoulders” with the rich and famous. Travelling by the underground which both my kids worked out how to read the maps and plan ahead pretty easily, we bought our tickets in a deal, including Madame Tussauds, The London Dungeons, and The London Eye. If you haven’t been to Madame Tussauds, it really is just mainly a museum, with all the incredible wax works around the rooms, and everyone waiting to get a picture with George Clooney, Albert Einstein, Lady Diana, or The Hulk. So we did exactly the same!!!
There are many more on my camera roll, and lots of “bloopers” too!! I also loved this, when Miss-11 and Mr-12 were introduced to the Royal family as the Prince and Princess of Australia!!!
So after the main room, there is a little ride where you get taken through a bit of the history of London. At the end, Miss-11 saw the sign that said “smile for the camera” just in time, so she gave a big wave, and Mr-12 cracked up, resulting in me HAVING to purchase this from the kiosk…
And that was day 1 done. We headed to our hotel, then got out of there to do some window shopping and had Burger King (Hungry Jacks) for dinner.
Our second day in London, after the Paris day was really busy. We started out to Covent Garden, but we were too early for the hustle and bustle, so decided to not wait around. We tubed it to Piccadilly Circus, then walked to Trafalgar Square. Miss-12 wanted a picture with the lions!
Then we black cabbed it to Buckingham Palace, and decided to wait around as the changing of the guards was due to start. We ended up having about an hour to wait, and the change itself takes quite a long time. Combined with sunshine, no snacks, and not being able to see much (except Miss-11 who had squirmed her way to the front), we would not wait for that again, but at least we can say we’ve seen it.
Afterwards, we bought icecreams and walked though the squirrels and swans at St. James’s Park, to Westminster.
When I was 10, my mother took me to Westminster Abbey, and you coud put a prayer in the prayer box to be read out at the Sunday service. I wrote a prayer for my Grandad who was in a lot of pain at the time. Now this building will always remind me of him, and I’m cool with that. Look at how magnificent it is.
So, a quick walk over Westminster Bridge, and we were in Southbank. If I had know how cool this area would be, we would have totally skipped the guards and spent the entire afternoon or even the day here. Similar to Brisbane’s Southbank, it is full of cafes and bars, and also street performers. Mr-12 was keen to check out a skateboarding place that has amazing street art, and we found it.
And we went on a Merry-Go-Round too!! Southbank is also where The London Dungeons are, and The London Eye. No queue for the Dungeons, so in we went. It was brilliant, so well done. Basically it is a tour of London through some of her darkest times. The Plague, The Great Fire of London, Sweeny Todd, Jack the Ripper, Guy Fawkes etc. Each section you walk in to has an actor ushering you along and then perform a mini show, detailing the events. It was so well done, really great. Selecting people form the crowds to be pranked, lights out for crowds to be scared, sound affects, and two rides too. A log flume type ride, and a mini giant drop. The details of the torture carried out in The Tower of London was included in the Guy Fawkes section, and made my eyes water. Ouch!
No photography is allowed, but we bought both the souvenier photos, and took some pics in the bar at end, where you are greeted with a Gin & Tonic, probably to ease your nerves!
We went on The London Eye right at the end of the day which was actually really good. We were getting tired after 3 days of full on tourist sightseeing, and this was quite relaxing. Also, as we had seen quite a bit of the city, I was able to point out the landmarks so Miss-11 and Mr-12 could really see the layout, and how much ground we had covered.
After this, we were pretty happy to be heading to the train home to my sister. It was only a short walk from there to the train station, but on our way, we found two very cool places. House of Vans is a super cool place which houses an art gallery, a skate ramp and a cafe. We didn’t get to look around much as we were running out of time, but we did have about 10 goes each in the free photo booth!
Then Mr-12 asked if we could cross the road, and I was reluctant at first as it looked like a ditch or something, but he was adamant, so over we went, and we found one of the coolest places that any city could have. A tunnel that allows street artists to paint on the walls. It is a totally free place to hang out, where anyone can bring their spray paint and draw, tag or whatever the cool people call it, on the walls. You just pick your spot and go for it. There must be hundreds of layers of pain on those walls. It was very cool.
I was gutted that I didn’t know about this place. Mr-12 had mentioned it, but I didn’t realise how open and free to the public it was, otherwise I would have bought paint and let him go. It’s my biggest regret of the whole trip.
And that was our London time done! It was a whirlwind of sights. We had such great fun and I am so chuffed that I have been able to do these things with my children. They are great ages to be travelling with, old enough to carry their own bag, lol!! Apologies for the photos, they really are just holiday snaps, not edited, cropped or filtered. The next “slide show” will probably be Paris! Until then, scroll down to find my Raspberry Coconut Slice, have a go at baking it, and tell me what you think.
Are you planning a family holiday? Tell me what you’re planning! Where are you going?