London Itinerary – What we REALLY did
So momma came and went and we had a wonderful time and, of course, it was fun seeing her and showing her around. It has been on my Bucket List for about a decade to take my mom to Europe and while this is only a small portion of western Europe’s footprint, it’s a start. As you can imagine though, we did not see everything I so insanely put on the itinerary. And we both still got sick the week after she left. Too much rain, wind and cold for people who aren’t use to being out in it all day long… without the proper ear protection (me… not mom… she, of course, was prepared).
Still, feel free to use the info and adapt for your own visit but please make a note that if you are anything like us you will probably want to pace yourself. Trust me, there will always be something else you want to see or something you hate that you missed… but being well the week after you get back from vacation is so worth it. I remember the first time I came here and spent a week I went home sick for a few days and honey and I didn’t even see as much as mom and I did. With that though, if you’re visiting someone you have missed and haven’t been able to physically spend time with in a while, leave plenty of down time too. People need to sit and catch up and reflect and just marinate in the joy of being together without going, going, going.
Note that I am letting you know what the actual itinerary was and I will be posting many more photos of our adventures over the next few weeks in batches. I’ll still include some pics though… cause they make things more fun. So here we go… what we actually did and saw.
Unfortunately when flying out of San Antonio, Texas if your flight is delayed or canceled for some reason, you’re screwed. Being that this is what happened to my poor momma, she had to go back home that night and try again the next day. We were both pretty sad and felt defeated. But we forged on.
I thought if her flight lands at 8:00 am and I get there by 8:30 am that’s plenty of time. I mean she has to get off the plane, wait in the line for passport control… it has always taken me at least an hour to get through it all. I even asked my honey to double check,
“Oh yeah, you’ll have plenty of time” he assured me.
Uhhh…. no. Mom’s flight got in 15 minutes early. ON TOP of that she made friends with the flight attendant who gave her a Fast Track pass through Passport Control. I arrive at 8:15 am ( to be on the safe side I thought) and I waited and waited. I went to Marks and Spencers to get us a snack and some water in case she was thirsty or feeling hungry and went back to the railing to wait. This feeling kept at me and I decided to look around… and wouldn’t you know… my mother was making circles through the crowd looking for me. Of course. So I haul it over to her. I was so sad… this wasn’t how her arrival was suppose to be!!! She had been there walking around the arrivals area since about 8:10 am, she’d even gone outside looking for me. We wound up leaving the airport at about 8:45… Massive fail for me.
Anyway… we got on the Heathrow Express and headed back to my flat so she could rest a bit and we could drop off her bag. It took a little over an hour because once at Paddington we had to hop on the Bakerloo line then change at Baker St for the Jubilee. We got her an Oyster card though and she had her first tube riding experience. Later she will compare the tube to what it must have felt like to ride in a stage coach in the Wild West.
- After resting we headed to the British Museum, spent some time there
- went back to the flat after this and stopped at Cinnamon to grab some Carrot and Coriander soup and baked aubergines to snack on before we napped some. Being awake for over 24 hours and flying for 10 hours is hard on the body people! I napped with her, naturally…
- After we woke up we walked down Haverstock Hill and Chalk Farm Rd to Feng Sushi and ate some delicious food
- Then we hopped on a double decker bus and went down to Trafalgar Square and we walked around. There weren’t a lot of people but everything lit up at night is something I hadn’t seen before and is quite beautiful.
- We hung out there for a while, had some coffee at Nero across the street and then caught the bus home again. Mom liked the double decker bus and I hadn’t ever rode on one so it was a first for us both. It is a good way to see the city and people watch, that’s for sure.
- After a
muffin breakfast at the flat we took the London Cab Tour with Graham Greenglass that I won from a contest from The Little London Observationist’s blog.
- He dropped us off at the London Eye after 2 hours of touring, where we enjoyed our daytime viewing.
- Because I didn’t reserve the Sushi Tea in time we left The London Eye and started along The Queen’s Walk. We stopped at Las Iguanas at Southbank Centre for some fuel. It was delicious!
- The Queen’s Walk extends all the way up to St Paul’s from Westminster and we strolled from Westminster Bridge to London Bridge.
- We got on the tube at London Bridge and headed back to Waterloo station. After checking out the skyline at night from the London Eye we went back home to eat some salad and soup and rest and warm up!
- We went to The Coffee Lounge for some delicious brekkie to fuel up for the day.
- Then we hopped on the double decker again and headed to The British Library at King’s Cross and Euston Stations. They had some cool exhibits and like most buildings in the UK, it has history and stories on its own.
- The British Library Shop was absolutely amazing. I know that all museums and such places have great shops, but the things you can find in this Library’s Shop are right up my alley. (or right up my street as the Brits say)
- We spent so much time at the Library that we just went straight to see St Paul’s Cathedral after and skipped Barbican and the Museum of London since you can spend 3 days in there and not see everything.
- We got in the Cathedral and took the hour and a half tour. It was a bit much. Our tour guide, Gillian, was wonderful and the stories were interesting. Maybe it was because we were hungry, maybe it was just a little too long of a tour, but at about 1 hour in mom and I both lost focus.
- Looked online to see that the Lobster Pop Up was no longer there and being that we were both starving we went across the street to Pizza Express. What can I say I lose all decision making ability when I’m on Empty.
- Then we headed back to the flat to rest and go over what all we had done that day. Pictures needed to be reviewed people!
Happened for the most part as planned…
- We woke up super early that morning and headed out to Stonehenge on Premium Tours and spent about an hour there. The visitor’s center is AWESOME and they had very cool exhibits and goodies in the shop, as well.
- Then we headed to Bath.
- When we arrived we went with the group to tour the Roman Baths.
- After we wandered around the beautiful town, bought some fudge and some goodies
- and then went and had lunch at Sally Lunn’s (famous buns)
- After lunch we strolled some more through the Market and then to the Pulteney Bridge.
- We wandered down to the Parade Gardens, which were so serene and beautiful. We rested there for a while with some coffee and enjoyed the sun and the company. It was fun to be able to sit and catch up with her in person. The thing I find I miss the most about being away from the people I love is shared experiences, like being able to sit in silence and enjoy the beauty of nature and a good cup of coffee.
- Then we headed back to London and marinated in the lovely day we had.
- We got back to the flat and then headed out to dinner with my honey to Paradiso, a lovely Italian place. We stuffed ourselves and then headed home. It was highly enjoyable and we were all tired from the day. Being from Texas we are use to the heat. The one thing we are never prepared for is how tiring it is to be in the cold and the wind. Your body uses a lot of energy to stay warm!! This is a fact. Yes, I’ve been here for a couple of months now and No I haven’t gotten use to the cold. We slept pretty damn good is all I’m saying.
- Mom and I slept in this day and just hung out at the flat in the morning. Going over the things we had seen, reminding each other of details forgotten and reminiscing on the past.
- We got out at midday for some Sushi High Tea at the Hilton at London Bridge. It was ok… it was a Groupon so… we got what I paid for.
- We wandered from London Bridge to Tower Bridge, taking pictures, stopping to enjoy the view and people watch along the way.
- We wandered back to London Bridge Station and went into Borough’s Market before we went underground. It was a great market, filled with all kinds of delicious smelling foods. We both wished we had gone there for lunch, but we put it on the list for next time.
- We decided to head home then because we were both starting to feel the affects of the cold in a way that was noticeable and uncomfortable.
- My honey came out to dinner with us again and we had some Fish and Chips at Oliver’s Fish & Chips. It was delicious. We also tried a fried Mars bar for the first time…. which I don’t recommend, but I know lots of people love them.
- We got on the tube and headed to check out the Natural History Museum… lots of kiddos.
- We had lunch there too, which was an interesting experience. You wait in line to order at a register, but then you’re shown to a table. It’s not immediate though, you stand at the register until a table it ready, leaving the people in line behind you standing and waiting. Then you’re shown to your table and someone brings your food. Different people stop by and check on you. It was a service experience I have never known before.
- Afterwards we went for a Stroll through Hyde Park and it started to sprinkle a bit. It was such a difference from the street, walking through the park. It’s so comforting to be surrounded by nature and it’s so important to have that buffer and place of refuge away from the hustle and bustle. We were both able to take a deep breath.
- Headed back to Belsize Park and stopped along the way at a book store and made some purchases. Then went home to enjoy the spoils of the day.
- After resting a while we got back out to have some delicious Ubon noodle soup and chicken green curry from Moonnite for dinner. Yes and yes.
- Breakfast at Chez Nous so mom could experience a Full English breakfast. She loved it! So many of the things she loves on one plate. Mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, sausage, bacon, eggs and toast.
- We then had to head to the airport, sad and exhausted from the week. Like I said before I plan on giving myself an hour and a half to get to the airport because of the transfers on the tubes. I’m still learning the system so I account for if the tube is delayed or they’re working on a line, or I miss it and have to wait 7 minutes for the next one. Also, I’m anxious by nature anyway, so it’s always good to give myself a buffer. So saying “See ya later” was hard, of course, and it was a lonely tube ride home.
The trip was a success in my book, but like I’ve said a few times before, I really wish I had planned some more low key things. I just wanted her to see so much that I forgot to give us time to just be still together. It’s on the list for next time… when it’s warmer outside.