Back again after a week in London, and I thought I’d share the experience.
TL;DR: I hate noise, I hate bustle, I hate people. London was nice, though.
Monday Arrive at Victoria at around lunchtime.
They should really finish the roof here!
Walk to hotel (just across Westminster Bridge), drop off luggage, Then tube to Leicester Square to pick up tickets & walkabout (to Piccadilly Circus and back).
There are some nice streets here (Cecil court, New Row) that gave the right Harry Potter mood to . Surprisingly little HP merchandise, though given it’s the 20 year anniversary for the books and all.
Ate at “Five Guys”. The meat in the burger was ok, but the bread was sub-standard. Also, the music was so loud that it seemed as if they deliberately wanted people to not go in there. I can’t imagine working in a place like that, my noise-meter on the phone was well above 90 dB!
Regular Bus back to Westminster. Interesting, and the kids loved it.
Tuesday River boat (RB1) to the Tower. The Tower was really interesting and fun.
The crown jewels were fascinating, and cleverly displayed at the end of a series of darkened rooms that prepared you so you would know what you are looking at before you get there (so you don’t dally around too long in front of the warez). Also, the darkened rooms allowed your eyes to adjust so you could see the jewels in all their glory. We started with this (at around 10AM), so there was no queue. Later during the day, the queue was massive, though.
White Tower: Very interesting, but as usual in places like this the displays often get in the way of actually experiencing the building itself. I mean, this is a slab of unadulterated power that has been standing there for nearly a millennium. You do not need to fill it with modern pieces of art for it to become interesting.
There were other interesting displays. I can’t remember the names of the rooms just above traitor’s gate, but here they let the rooms themselves speak — including the medieval wall constructions.
We were planning to go to the Tower Bridge exhibition after this, but the kids were getting tired so we opted for one of the open-top hop-on-hop-off tour buses instead.
Evening: My sushi-loving girls and myself ate 27 plates at a YO! Sushi restaurant.
(Waiter) Where are you from?
… like ABBA?
And “Smorgasbord”, which I believe is quintessential to your establishment.
Wednesday Mmme Tussauds. This was disappointing. I remember the historical displays as much larger and more vivid with plenty of fancy clothes and stuff. I also remember the chamber of horrors downstairs. During my first visit there, there was also a display of the gun deck of HMS Victory at the battle of Trafalgar. None of that was there this time. The historical displays were much smaller and full of noisy rock music that spilled over from other sections, and in general there were not that many wax figures left. What the kids remember from this place is the 10-minute 4D movie featuring a bunch of superheroes that they do not recognise very well because they are too young to see the movies.
Zip back to Paddington Station to pay our respects to Michael Bond, then over to King’s Cross to find Platform 9 3/4.
Platform 9 3/4 Again a long queue, so we decided not to take a photo of there. Or, to be precise, have her photo taken and pay for the pleasure. Incidentally, there is both room and a market for a second trolley halfway through the wall.
We had planned to get back to Oxford Circus, visit Hamley’s, and do some general shopping after this, but again the kids were so tired that we went home and hit the hotel pool instead.
Dinner at Iguana’s, which was excellent.
It’s annoying with all the sirens all the time.
I agree. It’s bloody inconsiderate of the ambulances to still try and save lives when you want to go to sleep.
Thursday We had planned to go to the Museum of Natural History, but we decided to skip this and go shopping instead. Main attraction: Hamley’s. A short walk to Piccadilly Circus, lunch, and back to Bond Street and the last few days were really taking their toll on , so an early return to the hotel (it was also probably more than 30 degrees out, and even more underground).
Friday A walk through Green Park and past Buckingham Palace. We didn’t have time to visit the Royal Mews, but there was a refreshing lack of queues to enter. Onwards to Victoria, and then train back to Gatwick.
So all in all, I had a long list of places that we were planning to visit (thanks in no small degree to your helpful contributions here), but we had to cut back quite a bit for the sake of the kids. We’ll have to come back soon instead. I had also hoped to visit a plain old Tesco or Sainsbury’s, but we never found any. I think would love Branston Pickle (and even the Piccalilli), but I couldn’t find it in the corner shops. I did feed her some Marmite at the hotel breakfast, though:
I hereby declare war on Marmite! There is no room in the world for this vileness.