Travel: London, England {Part Two}

We loved London!  If we could’ve stayed for another week, we would have.  There’s so much to do, and while we got to see almost everything on our list, there is still so much more.  We are looking forward to a return trip at some point, but we have so many places on our bucket list, I’m not sure when that will be.

London, England

Some things to note: We mostly got around using the City Mapper app.  It was great for letting us know which was the best route, via bus, train or walking.  But, a lot of times when we were walking, it had our location in the wrong spot.  In particular, on the day we went to Harrod’s, we were already exhausted and just wanted to go back to the hotel.

We wanted to take the bus and we used the app to get us to the bus stop.  But, the app kept pinning our location a block or so away from where we actually were.  It kept giving us the wrong directions.  We finally ended up taking the tube because we walked by the tube station at least four times looking for the bus stop and then my phone died.

When my phone died we were screwed.  No map.  Thankfully, before we left a friend had given me several paper maps of London, including a train map.  After the Harrod’s day, these maps were with us always and they were the most effective way for us to get around.  Ok Boomer for the win!

What We Did

Day One – 

Kensington High Street/St. Mary Abbot’s Church – We took an overnight flight and got to our hotel in the early afternoon.  We unpacked and did some exploring and shopping around the neighborhood on our first day.  We also went into the church which was beautiful and the church bells were ringing so it felt a little heavenly, especially given it was a Sunday.

Church Street London

Day Two – 

Diana Memorial Fountain, Hyde Park – We walked from our hotel through Hyde Park to the fountain. It’s a total let down.  It looks like rain water running in a gutter.  But we paid our respects, I told Ella stories about Princess Diana, and she complained about all the kids running in the fountain even though the sign said not to.  I told her Princess Diana was a rebel and she probably liked that they were breaking the rules.

Diana Memorial Fountain London

Kensington Palace – We toured the palace which had the “Victoria: Woman & Crown” exhibit.  We saw fancy jewels and some of the clothes Victoria wore when she was a child.  This is the room she was born in.  Pretty amazing.

Kennsington Palace

They also had a second exhibit, “Diana: Designing for a Princess” which had one of her gowns and drawings of some of the designs she wore throughout her life.

Notting Hill – We ate lunch in Notting Hill and called it a day.

Notting Hill London

Day Three – 

Tower of London – This was definitely one of our favorite places.  We had been told to go see the Crown Jewels as soon as we arrived because the line can get very long.  We did have to wait, but it was good advice because when we were leaving the line was super long.  We explored some of the other buildings and then headed out.

Tower of London

Tower Bridge – We stopped by to take a snap of the Tower Bridge, which I thought was the London Bridge and learned it’s not.  Apparently, it’s a very common mistake.  The London Bridge is actually very boring.

Tower Bridge London

St. Paul’s Cathedral – After walking for what felt like miles from the Tower of London, we finally made it to St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Of course, we had to see the place where Princess Diana and Prince Charles were married!  Another fun fact – “Feed the Birds” from “Mary Poppins” was sung on the steps of the Cathedral as well.

St. Paul's Cathedral

Ella wanted to climb to the top, so up the 300+ stairs we went to the Stone Gallery. The views were amazing!

Stone Gallery St. Paul's London

Harrod’s – After the Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral, we took the train to Harrod’s.  The location made it out of the way for any of the days we were in London, based on what we wanted to do, so we decided to suck it up and get it off the list sooner rather than later.

This is where our trip took a turn into the loo.  When we emerged from the underground it was starting to pour rain.  We then witnessed a homeless man with a bleeding face screaming and yelling at a mother and daughter {she was about Ella’s age, so it was causing Ella some anxiety} about their dog who bit him.  The mom was on her phone trying to protect her daughter and the dog.  They got across the street and the homeless man went in the other direction.  It was a little stressful to witness, so we popped into a Starbucks and waited out the rain.

We finally made it to Harrod’s where we found it to be not so much fun.  This is surprising because it’s totally my type of place, but I think I was tired and not into it.  Then, we saw this mannequin.  Someone with the same sense of humor as us, had manipulated the fingers so it was flipping everyone off.  We couldn’t stop laughing.

Harrod's London

When I go back, I’ll plan a day solely around Harrod’s.

Day Four – 

Trafalgar Square – If you ask Ella what her favorite place in London was, here’s your answer.  I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because she got to climb all over stuff while wearing a dress and tennis shoes.

Travel: London England Part Two

National Portrait Gallery – We popped in here for a couple hours before we went to see “School of Rock.”  It was amazing.  I think it was one of my favorite places in the world.  I saw my favorite Degas painting, “Ballet Dancers,” which happened to be on loan.  We also saw lots of Monet’s and Van Gogh’s and Renoir’s {also my favorite and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one of his in person before.}  Amazing.

Ballet Dancers, Degas

School of Rock – We knew we wanted to see a show in the West End, so we chose to do a matinee because it fit into our schedule and they’re cheaper.  This one is at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in the West End.  We purchased our tickets from a vendor in the tube station.  We loved this show!  LOVED IT! The kids in the show are awesome and we had “Stick It To The Man” stuck in our heads for about two days.

School of Rock London

Piccadilly Circus – I made us get off the train here because I thought it was going to be like Times Square and it’s not.  It was kind of a waste of time, but I got this super cute picture, so I guess it wasn’t a waste of time.

Travel: London, England Part 2

Buckingham Palace – Okay, so we lucked out with this one.  After Piccadilly Circus, I decided we could walk to the bus to get back to the hotel.  We walked, but surprise, surprise, I got us lost and we ended up on the opposite end of the Mall from the Palace.  The road was closed because they were having an event {the World Cricket Cup Kick – Off.}  We walked down the empty, closed street towards Buckingham Palace and no one said a word to us.  Except Ella, who was totally complaining because it was raining and she just wanted to go back to the hotel.

I told her this would never, ever happen again.  So we walked. In the rain.  When we got to the Palace, it also just happened that the Queen held a Garden Party that day so everyone was leaving the party in their fancy clothes and fascinators.  I thought it was amazing!  Ella not so much.

Travel: London, England Part Two

Day Five –

London Eye – This was Ella’s number one thing on her list of things to do.  We enjoyed it, but we went early before it got super busy.  I can see it being annoying if it’s really busy.

London Eye

Westminster – We saw Parliament, Big Ben {under construction} and Westminster Abbey.  We didn’t go inside the Abbey because it was a super long line and after four days of doing touristy things, we were kind of over it.  We listened to the church bells ring, took some photos and got out of there because we were starving.

Westminster Abbey London

We bought sandwiches for lunch and spur of the moment decided to get out of Westminster because it was super crowded, and touristy, and it was making us cranky.  We took the train back to Buckingham Palace and had a picnic.  This was a highlight of our trip.

Travel: London, England Part Two

 

To be continued… Next stop – Edinburgh!

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