- May 24, 2015
Well, the bumps were:More info please! We'll be in London for a couple of days prior to a cruise next May and I'm very interested in how you found it.
- We lost an entire 24 hours of London time because American Airlines cancelled our connecting flight. We ended up spending that time in Charlotte, NC, instead, and I never want to go back there again. It might be a lovely place, but it wasn't London, so it was not at all a pleasant stay to us.
- Because of the missed time in London, we missed out on seeing the special collections at the British Library, St. Paul's Cathedral, The National Gallery, and time in Greenwich.
- After a few days in London, my respiratory system couldn't handle the smokers and the overly perfumed people. I have asthma, and it flared up badly. I'm still recovering and have been home a little over a week now. This is making us think about skipping Paris next year and spending more days in Switzerland instead. I think smoking is supposedly even more popular in Paris than in London, but maybe I'm wrong? I'm worried perfume might be super popular in Paris, and that's just as dangerous of a trigger for me.
- We thought we were going to have to spend another night in Charlotte on our way back home because our flight leaving Heathrow sat on the tarmac for about 2.5 hours. When we finally landed in Charlotte, we had less than an hour to get through customs, go back through normal security and switch terminals for our connecting flight. We made it, but just barely. Thankfully, we have global entry and we went carry-on only, and I think that's the only way we made our connection.
- the shopping. So many things we wanted, but no room to take stuff home. Sad, sad, sad. Great for the wallet, but still sad not to have the souvenirs. Yes, we have the memories, but darn it, I want that Fortnum and Mason tea set with the bird knob on the teapot and the sugar. It was not cheap, so not having the room in the suitcase was probably best. Next time, I'm taking my rattiest pjs and anything else I can get away with and throwing them away at the end of the trip to free up space in the carry on.
The things we loved:
- Westminster Abbey. It's so beautiful and steeped in so much history.
- free museums and so many people actually using them. The interest in educational opportunities over there was wonderful to see.
- the parks. Hyde and St. James' parks were our favorites. Lots of wildlife and such beautiful scenery. The leaves were just starting to change while we were there.
- the tube. It's so easy to use. I wish we had something like that here. We can't have an underground because the water table is too high, but a high speed over rail would be a wonderful thing to have here.
- the Dickens museum (not free). Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors, and it was a dream come true to walk the streets he walked and to stand in the rooms where he lived and wrote. The museum is very nice, and the people there are passionate about sharing their knowledge. It was a great experience, and I would go back. Bonus, we stayed about a 5 minute walk from this place.
- diversity. There were people from all over, speaking all sorts of languages., and it was just normal. This is how I think life should be. People co-existing peacefully in the same space no matter where they are from, what language(s) they speak, or what they look like. It felt right.
- along the same line as above, so many multi-lingual speakers. I love that people over there are able to speak more than one language, seemingly fairly fluently. I wish that was more of a thing here.
- the prevalence of afternoon tea. We have one place to have afternoon tea here, and it's expensive. There is an endless variety of afternoon tea at all price levels in London. I could get addicted to that sort of thing as a regular way of life fairly quickly.
- the food in general. We had great tasting, mostly healthy food there.
- the zoo. We have a top notch zoo here, but we loved the London Zoo so much. We even went on a rainy day, but it wasn't a big deal because there are so many ways to escape the rain there.
- the architecture. So much to see everywhere you go.
- our one day out of the city. We hired a private driver and guide to take us to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath. It was very nice to do this tour just for our family and not with a busload of people. Our guide was fantastic, and the day was incredible. The British countryside is gorgeous. If we return, we will likely hire him again for either touring Wales or the Cotswolds.
- the West End. We saw Wicked, and it was the best production of the show we have seen. We all wish we had arranged to see more shows while we were there.
- Covent Garden. We were lucky enough to be there when an opera singer was performing. She was wonderful, and it's one of my most favorite memories.
- the weather. It actually wasn't bad for most of our trip. It was mostly cool and dry which was very nice. We really only had one full day of rain.
- our neighborhood. We rented a flat in Bloomsbury near Russell Square, and this ended up being the perfect neighborhood for us. It's known for writers, philosophers, political activists, and students. It's still somewhat central but not nearly as crowded as other areas we visited. We loved it, and it has the cutest tube station in all of London.
We also did the Tower of London, The London Transport Museum (not free and very crowded the day we went), Harrods (prefer Fortnum and Mason), Thames river cruise, the View from the Shard (did this instead of the London Eye due to not wanting to pack into pods with so many people), Borough Market, Chinatown (I was in heaven being able to have steamed custard buns again - it had been 14 years since I last had them in China - and our daughter was in Pocky heaven at a snack store she found), St. Paul's at Covent Garden, Regent's Park, and Kensington Palace (I preferred the tiaras at Kensington to the Crown Jewels at the Tower so I guess I'm a cheap date). We saw Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and Piccadilly Circus but just in passing. We saw the changing of the guards at Windsor so didn't want to bother with it at Buckingham. Instead, we went at sunset which was really nice - not at all crowded. The Queen was in, but no sign of her, of course. We were also right by Big Ben and Houses of Parliament at one point, but sadly Ben is still covered in scaffolding and Parliament was having some work done, too.
Do you know yet where you are staying and what you will do while you are in London?