JULY 12, 2017 BY TAYETMTRAVEL
Welcome back! The past few months have been a little hectic with school and preparation of my parents visit. Also, I personally prefer not to travel much during the summer months–it’s too crowded, in my opinion. Anyway, my parents were here for about 10 days and mostly we stayed around the Netherlands but we had one big trip to London. That’s where this story begins!
The view from Golden Jubilee Bridge.
Now, if you have read one of my previous posts, then you know that I have been to London before on a day-trip and it was overall a very long day that day. This time was different, my parents, my husband and I decided to spend 3 days/ 2 nights in London and let me just say, this trip was fantastic!! I will definitely be going back to London again, there is just so much to see and do. I am going to break down this post based on day. I hope you all enjoy our adventure!
DAY 1: Travel and a few sights
Whenever I travel, I like to either leave late at night or early in the morning so that I have at least a half day in the new city. That is what we did this time too, well kinda. We decided to fly out of BRU (Brussels-Zaventem) to LHR (London-Heathrow), our flight was out at 11:30am–it takes us about an hour to get to BRU from our house. We were all running a little behind this time getting out of the house–we didn’t leave until 9am–thankfully, though security was very quick to get through and passport control only took about 20 min. With quick feet, we managed to get to the gate just as they were letting people on–perfect timing, if you ask me.
Boarded and catching our breath, we were on our way! It only took about an hour to get to London and with the time change we actually arrived 10 min after we took off (London is an hour behind). By noon, we managed to be through passport control and on the Underground headed towards the city!
Our plan was to start at the farthest location that we wanted to see and work our way back towards the hotel–we weren’t going to be able to check-in until after 2 anyway. So, off to the Tower of London, we were! Now, beware that when construction has to take place on the Underground, it tends to happen on the weekend, since we arrived on a Sunday we hit some construction about 4 metro stops away from the tower. Following signs, we were able to catch a Double-Decker bus the rest of the way to Tower Hill (the bus stop right in front of the Tower of London). However, on the way to the bus stop we popped into a little place for lunch, Villiers–we were all getting a little grumpy because we all forget to eat breakfast. We all had fish and chips, of course! Stomachs full, we were on the bus and ready to go.
With our previously purchased tickets (21-24 pounds or 25-30 dollars per adult) we were able to get right in. **Tower of London tickets are good for 7 days of the date you have selected when you purchased them** With our tickets we had access to one of the most well known fortresses/prisons/ palace in Western Europe. –Last time I was here I didn’t have the opportunity to do the tour, I am glad I did this time.–After we walked through the entry gates, we walked down into the mote to await our tour with one of the Yeoman Warders or ‘Beefeaters’ , as they are more well known as,–this tour is included in your ticket, as well as entrance to the Crown Jewels–the Yeoman Warder who was our guide was named Simon. This tour is a MUST if you get the opportunity to go through the Tower of London. It only takes about 30 to 45 min, but it is so educational and whimsical.
Fun fact: Any man who is a Yeoman Warder must have served in the armed forces for a minimum of 22 years and received a good conduct medal. All of these men and their families live within the walls of the Tower and protect it. –P.S. If you have ever served in the military and know the personality of a First Sergeant or a Sergeant Major when they retire, these Yeoman Warders have a similar personality, in a very good way!
The history of this Tower can date back to 1100, when the first white tower was constructed. The Tower of London is well known as the place of execution of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. She was the Queen of England until her beheading within the Tower, which some say was the start of the English Reformation. There is a dedication to her near the chapel.
While you are in the Tower walls be sure to look up and back and check out the Tower Bridge. This drawbridge is pure beauty. With masterful engineering for the late 1800’s, this is a very fascinating bridge.
After a very educational tour and exploring of the Tower of London, we caught a taxi and headed off to the hotel, Rushmore Hotel-Kensington. Our hotel was on the other side of the city from the Tower of London, which took about 40 min to get to and only cost us about 35 pounds.
Now, the Rushmore Hotel is a super cute hotel, built within an old townhouse and if you know anything about the old townhouses in Europe, there are NO elevators–this comes into play later. When we checked in, there was a little mix up and someone had accidentally signed the wrong card and therefore got our original room (it was the same type of room, so it really didn’t matter) on the second floor. Our room, was on the fourth floor–remember how I said there were no elevators?–Up the stairs we went.
P.S. This hotel is only about a 5 minute walk from an Underground stop.
We freshened up a bit and headed back down. About two weeks before we left, I made reservations for a piano bar that was right up the street from the hotel (a 10 min walk). It is called, Piano Kensington, and they have some fantastic drinks! I had this daiquiri made with whiskey, my favorite!
Also, the bartenders will make you anything you want, or don’t know you want. For example, my mom didn’t know what she wanted and they brought her a ‘twisted stripper’ drink and it was fantastic!! Anyway, on Sundays they have ‘Jazz Sundays’ starting at 8:30 p.m. but we had gotten there prior and the piano player set the atmosphere just right!
After some drinks, we were a little hungry–it’s always about food, with us. We walked up the street about a block and stepped into this restaurant called, Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Even though the burgers were really good, and the milkshake, the fries weren’t cooked all the way through. However, it was reasonably priced and quick, which is always a win in London.
Last stop, back to the hotel for some much needed shut eyes. Up the stairs and to bed we went.
Day 2: Adventure continues…
Up at around 9 for some breakfast at the hotel, which was pretty good–mixture of cheeses, meats, hard-boiled eggs, bread and coffee–it was just the perfect amount to get our day started. The first big stop of the day: Buckingham Palace!
Buckingham Palace, prior to the crowds
The mornings (prior to 1030) is the best time to see the beautiful building. We got there around 945 and got some beautiful pictures. Now, the reason we got to the Palace this early was because one of the main things we all wanted to do was to see the changing of the guards, which was to begin at 11am. Since we had gotten there so early we had time to walk through St. James Park and enjoy the morning sprinkle of rain.
We managed to get back to Buckingham Palace at around 1015 and let me just say the crowds had already started for the changing of the guards. **I would highly suggest that if you want to get close enough to see the changing happen to get here about 30 to 45min prior to the start of the ceremony** If you are tall, like my husband, you may be able to see everything from behind the crowds. However, if you are like me, –a little vertically challenged– then you will want to be right at the gate. I was only behind a few people, but still managed to see a lot.
The ceremony takes about 30 minutes. Basically, the ceremony consists of the ‘new guard’ changing places with the ‘old guard’. It is one of the best “battle of the bands” that there is. The musicians with each guard plays towards each other. It is simply FANTASTIC!! *There will be videos on my Facebook page showcasing some of the ‘battle’.
This is a free event and suggest that if you have the spare time in the morning, to witness this at least once.
After the ceremony, we made our way over to Garfunkel’s for lunch. This restaurant is very similar to a Cheddar’s or a Chili’s from the States. It’s not the best, but also not the worst.
Next stop, ‘Churchill’s War Rooms’. Now, if you like WWII history, this is a must see! These War Rooms are in the original bunker that was constructed in 1939 and which led to some of the iconic decisions made during that time. Until the lights were finally turned off in 1945. Most of the rooms are exactly as they would have been during those trying times. From the Cabinet War Rooms to the Map Rooms, these rooms have so much to tell.
Part of the bunker has, been turned into a museum that documents the entirety of Churchill’s life and even includes the original door that was on the Prime Ministers house. It’s a very real feeling walking through these rooms, just imagining what those days were like. You can even see an original convoy map that has thousands of holes in it where they would map out the many convoys that delivered supplies to their allies. Walking through the bunker you will notice that all clocks at set 5 minutes until 5 pm in preparation for a cabinet meeting. (The tickets are 17 to 19 pounds or 22 to 25 dollars per adult). –I absolutely loved this museum!
We made our way towards the Parliament Building and Big Ben. Of course then we had to take the typical tourist photo of them both.
The one place I have always wanted to see was William Shakespeare Globe Theater. We wanted to walk across one of the bridges, so we decided to make our way across the Golden Jubilee Bridges to South Bank. Walking across this bridge gave some of the most picturesque views of London. Simply stunning.
Jazz band on the sands of South Bank
When we got to the other side of the bridge, and in the middle of South Bank there was the kid, no older than 23, singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. It was a pretty cool moment though as he got to the “Let him go” and “Galileo” parts, those who were sitting around him sang those parts, and it was just a perfect little music moment. Speaking of music, as we continued, there was this jazz band playing on the beach. It was beautiful.
Now, to the only thing I wanted to see there, the Globe Theater! Seeing this place is every theater kids dream! Having been in the theater world for about 6 to 7 years, through high school and some of college, this place meant a lot to me. The purity that is this art, the fact that William Shakespeare made this place and allowed for people to escape all of their woes at that time. It’s magical. I’ll even admit I was overjoyed with emotion as we walked up to this place. Oh my goodness, I love theater!
–I have decided that next time I go back to London, I want to spend more time in South Bank and see a show at the Theater. There is shopping, the London Eye and so much to see in this area!
Speaking of shopping, we caught a taxi and made our way back to the other side of London to go to the ultimate shopping place in this city: Harrods! This place is so large and expensive. I would imagine it is very similar to shopping at Macy’s in New York City.
Back to the hotel, and walking up about 5 minutes to this English pub, Prince of Teck. Since, we were eating dinner at this pub, we were able to go upstairs where is was much quieter and only about 4 other people and no televisions.
My fish and chips at the Prince of Teck
Pub atmosphere, without the pub noise. I decided to get Fish and Chips again, and I am glad I did, this was the best food I had the entire time we were in London, by far! Highly suggest this place, especially if you are staying in Kensington!
Short walk back to the hotel and to bed we went. Only one more day.
Day 3: Abbey Rd. and headed home…
Last day, breakfast at the hotel and only one more destination to see: Abbey Road Studios! Even though you are not allowed to go into the studios themselves, there is a little gift shop that gives you the history on the walls leading to it. Inside the gift shop there is even the original score of “Yesterday”. If you enjoy some music history. This place is very cool to see. One of my very good friends in college, absolutely loves ‘The Beatles’! Anybody like her would love this historical place!
Last stop in London, St. Pancreas Station to catch our train back to Brussels. Taking the train was and is now my preferred method of travel. We saw some beautiful country side as we made the 2 and a half hour ride back. Check-in and security was so easy. A few card games–including 2000 and Solitaire–and we were back. A simple 30 min taxi ride to the airport to get our car and the hide ‘n’ seek with said car and our London adventure was ended.
If you have any questions or suggestions for my next adventure, please comment below!
Until next time, adventure awaits!!
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