Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trip Part 4 - London

After Ireland, our last stop was London. I have a friend who is from England and lived about an hour out of the city. Her sister also lives about an hour out of the city and she was nice enough to let us stay with her. We would take the train in every day which was costly but not even close to as costly as staying in the city would have been. We flew into London on a Ryan air flight on a Friday morning and then flew out of London Tuesday afternoon so we had a good 3 1/2 days to sight see. It was nice to go home but 3 1/2 days is not nearly enough time to see London.

Windsor Castle. I loved the tour. It is such a pretty castle and it was very enjoyable to see the collections and exhibits they had. Queen Mary's Doll house was amazing.

This picture was taken in Oxford. The buildings in Oxford were cool but the place was almost like a city with the amount of people and shops there were.  

The London Eye. We didn't ride this but if you ever have the chance to make sure there is good weather and clear skies.

 Big Ben is actually the bell inside the clock, not the clock itself.

Parliament. Another tour I loved.

A view from Saint James Park. We loved this park. It had lots of animals in it and was very well taken care of.

Buckingham Palace. It was kind of a plain looking building compared to a lot of the other things we saw.  

George Washington statue.

Our tour guide at the Tower of London. He lives at the Tower.

Of course we found where the London Chipotle was. It didn't taste quite as good as it does in America but it was still worth the visit.

Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park.

We didn't actually take many pictures in London. Many of the sites we visited did not allow us to take pictures and one day we even forgot our camera. So I will try and give you a bit more information about what we did.

Sites we saw and things we did:

1. Walking tour to see Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Saint James Park, and a few other things. We happened to pick a tour that was sponsored by some group so we got it for free and only had to pay for our ferry ride. Either way the walking tours are pretty inexpensive.
2. Hyde Park.
3. Tour of Parliament.
4. Tower of London.
5. The British Museum - had a great Egyptian exhibit that included mummies.
6. Saw Le Miserables.
7. St. Pauls Cathedral - churches are not cheap to visit in London so we chose to do only one and chose this one over Westminster Abbey.
8. Harrods.
9. China Town - ate two meals here.

What I liked about London:

1. Very much like America when it comes to food. Lots of options! We ate well.
2. They speak English.
3. They included a tour in the hefty entrance price.
4. How much history there is. The lack of a language barrier and the fact that tours were included in the entrance price helped us learn a lot more about England that we learned in the other countries.
5. There is soo much to see so you can't get bored.
6. The roads were much better to drive on than in Ireland. And we had our best rental car experience here. We only rented a car for a day to see Wendsor and ended up taking a very quick trip to Oxford.
7. Eating wasn't as expensive as I thought it would be. I guess thats because there are so many options.
8. There were so many great plays to choose from and the prices were much better than Broadway. Le Meserables was amazing. We had great seats for a much better price than we could have ever gotten in the U.S.
9. The parts of the city we were in were much much much cleaner than Paris.

What I didn't like:

1. Sightseeing is pretty expensive in London. They include a tour in the price which is nice but expect to pay anywhere from 12-20 pounds per person per site.
2. The underground wasn't that easy to follow. Not too difficult but the German underground and the Paris underground were much easier.
3. Our 3 hour trip to the airport. Ah!!! Luckily it ended up being pretty cheap to get there.

Um, I can't really think of many things I didn't like about London.


1. Don't hesitate to rent a car when you are traveling outside of the city but don't drive in the city.
2. If you stay outside the city and have to take the train in you can get 2 for 1 passes at many of the stations. These allow you to get into some of the London sites for half the price if you are traveling with another person.
3. Weekend train travel is cheaper than weekday. At least on the weekends, not sure about the weekdays, 3 adults can travel for the price of 2.
4. You can eat on the public transportation. You can't do that on the subway in D.C. so it's a big deal for me. We ate our lunch on the train once.
5. You can spend a lot of time at each of the sites so plan accordingly. The Tower of London took us almost 3 hours and we could have stayed longer.
6. At the Tower of London you can get a free tour. Do it. They tour guides are awesome.
7. The British Museum is free and had a great exhibit on mummies.
8. We liked St. James park much more than Hyde Park. Take a half hour or so to go and wander through it. Only go to Hyde Park if you have time to waste and only go if there is nice weather. Speakers corner was cool to see but when we went it was almost all Muslims preaching.
9. If you like shopping, stop at Harrods. We didn't spend tons of time at Harrods, it was late and it was crowded, but it was worth the stop. I have never seen a department store quite like it. And they have a Krispy Kreme if you are in need of a good old American sweat.
10. Go to China Town if you like Chinese food. We went to the same restaurant twice and it was soo good and so delicious and not expensive. I would have loved to try some of the other places there.
11. Go on a walking tour. They have many different types of walks and are fairly cheap. We learned a lot of random facts about London this way.

Places I want to see if I ever go back:

1. Westminster Abbey
2. Imperial War Museum
3. Bath, England
4. Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms
5. Walking tour of Jack the Ripper
6. Visit Greenwich and Essex. We stayed in Essex but we didn't have a chance to do much there nor learn its history and apparently it has a lot of history.
7. Visit Oxford again. Oxford wasn't quite what I expected it would be. It was much too crowded for my taste. But I would like to go back and get a tour of some of the schools. We didn't have much time when we went and the colleges were already closing for the day.
8. Go to an Evensong at any of the churches.
9. See Parliament in action. They were not in session when we went.
10. Go to the Knotting Hill District just because I can.

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