Mind The Gap, Big Ben, and The Lost Car

My Trip to London

Off to London we went on Saturday morning (freakishly early) and without coffee (shudder). It turns out it was going to be beautiful in Germany while we were away (and by the state of my new dead flowers, I’d say it was hot here), this naturally happens whenever we leave the country. But on to London. We arrived at Heathrow, this gigantic massive place, and grabbed our luggage and headed off to find the airport shuttle, the Hotel Hoppa. After a few minutes wait, in which I stared at the handsome black cabs of London that I simply LOVE (and some pink colored ones too), the bus arrived. We paid the fare and climbed on board heading to the Sheraton Heathrow. Nice hotel, small rooms. It could be that they only booked us a single room when we had two adults and one child but…that’s ok. We dropped off the luggage and headed to the airport bus stop (free within the Heathrow surrounding area, very nice touch!) and made the connection onto the underground. Now the Tube as it’s known in London is one very small people transport system. It may get you there but be prepared to stand and be squished like a sardine. London has as many people as NYC (possibly more) with about half the transit system. It was a 40 min trek to Central London from Heathrow terminal 1,2,3 on the Piccadilly Line. We had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe (very long wait with lots of kids touring groups and very loud inside with the music but fun). We then walked all around Hyde Park. We saw the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk and Fountain and followed the signs to the Peter Pan Statue.
We did more walking. We walked all the way to the Children’s Science Museum but arrived right before closing. At some point we also went to the famous Hamley’s Toy Store that has five levels. I checked out the Harry Potter stuff while Boo and dh looked at Cars and Lego stuff. They had HP OOTP ads on the side of the double decker city buses but I didn’t manage to get a pic (but I really wanted one cause it was so neat.) We walked again in search of dinner.

Day Two: Overcrowded Tube ride. We heard Boo announce every station after the conductor and say “Mind the gap between the train and the platform.” about every ten seconds (I may video him doing it tomorrow, it’s quite funny really). From there we boarded a double decker open top sightseeing bus. The Original Tour (http://www.theoriginaltour.com/) is wonderful. You can hop on and off at any stop to explore more of the sites you want to see and there is always a bus only a few minutes wait at each stop. You can listen to the commentary via the free headphone earbuds in several languages and they even have a kids commentary which kept Boo quite happy. Honestly he was just thrilled to be on a double decker bus on the top level. It did rain a bit but did rain stop us? Nope.

We saw everything. Big Ben, Parliament (can anyone even say Big Ben without saying Parliament thanks to Chevy Chase in European Vacation??), Westminster Abbey (was closed on Sunday and when I went back on Monday for pics – they were charging GBP 10 to get in – that’s $20! So no interior pics were taken.) We saw the Tower of London, Hyde Park (which we also walked around in finding the Peter Pan Statue), Marble Arch, Buckingham Palace and many more fun sights. I am not a tour type of person but this was very worth it and a lot of fun. We attempted to go into Harrod’s to find the bathroom but that place was so crowded and such a zoo. I was really not impressed actually with the bit of it I did see. I guess it’s such a tourist attraction it can’t really stay very nice with millions of people passing through it to say they’ve “been to Harrods”. (I did find a very cute tote at the airport Harrods though πŸ™‚

Day Three: Dh had to work (whole reason we were able to go, thanks DP!) so Boo and I took the free bus to the airport tube station and headed into London on our own. We went to the Science Museum since we didn’t make it over the weekend. It was really neat and the kids can touch everything which makes it great. The downside – so MANY school kids were there. Is London a year round school system? There were groups of school kids amassed everywhere in the museum (not to mention all the “tour Europe” teen groups in the city). Boo managed to have fun though all he cared about was pushing the buttons to make the exhibits move or talk. He didn’t really care what they were or what they did. Sigh. Oh well, I learned a lot! After the museum we headed by tube over to the Abbey but as noted above, there was no way I was paying that kind of money to see a church. Famous or not.

Day Four: Boo and I hung out at the hotel till about 11:30 and then headed on the Hoppa to the airport for our flight at 3. We shopped (finally got some cool souvenirs), we ate, we flew.

We landed at Koln-Bonn Airport. Collected the suitcase and headed to the car. Paid the ticket (which comes before you get to the car at a machine near the elevators/stairs – for my US readers) and then you hike to the car. Well, that’s the plan anyway. Hmmm, Boo, wo ist das Auto? Momma no see Auto. I didn’t see it on level 3 either (we started at level 4). Nope, not on 2. Momma is now panicking and quite unfortunately forgetting Boo repeats everything, taught him a new word. S*^$! Now we are trying to find a phone, and praying that if I don’t have any Euro’s by some freak coincidence it takes GBP (which I still have a fair bit of) and try to call Daddy and see if he knows where the heck the car is. After asking twice we finally found a phone and called. Yep, car is on level 1, right by the ticket machine. The one place I didn’t look because I only remembered we went on the elevator when we arrived on Saturday. Forgetting that you have to go up from level 1 to reach the departures hall. Sigh. Car found and we made it home.

The verdict of the trip – it was a lot of fun. London is a pretty cool place but it is so overcrowded, noisy and as I found out incredibly dirty. This may seem gross (but dh pointed it out first) after spending just a few hours in London, blow your nose. It’s black. I am pretty sure “boogies and snot” are not supposed to be that color!

2 thoughts on “Mind The Gap, Big Ben, and The Lost Car

  1. We left Saturday morning, fairly well rested after our Friday hassles. Other than the hotel being under construction (we actually called and they LIED outright to us) and having only dairy options for breakfast, which precipitated a trip to Noah’s in Hastings Ranch, the morning went smoothly. We headed out, Google Maps, GPS, and printed maps and directions in hand and aimed towards . I was a Girl Scout for over a decade, a Boy Scout for a season while a backpacking club at school needed insurance that only the Scouts would provide and thus, I am prepared.

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