I have been wanting to come back to London for quite some time now, realizing the last time I was here was in 2008 (when I was in college). I visited my friend’s sister who was studying abroad. It was definitely a different type of trip back then. More partying and sightseeing less child-friendly attractions.
And the time before that, I came with my parents on a tour, through Trafalgar Tours. This was back when I was going into my sophomore year of high school (before I took AP European History). I think my parents thought it would be in my best interest if I traveled to Europe to see and experience it first-hand prior to taking my class. That particular tour of Europe took us to 8 various countries just prior to the formation of the European Union. So, back then we had to switch to all different kinds of currency when we crossed the borders.
This London experience was very different. Enjoyable. But, very different with my husband, toddler, and my in-laws.
I had developed an itinerary based specifically on interests to cater to my son, who turned two at the end of April. We also added a few more main must-see attractions to the list.
Here are some screenshots of what our tentative itinerary was!
We switched a couple of things around, based on how we felt and also added a few things here and there.
Day 1: Travel
We had an ‘overnight’ flight from Boston Logan to London Heathrow via British Airways. The car service picked my in laws up, and we made it to Boston Logan with plenty of time to spare.
Michael and I recently got the American Express Platinum card so we decided to reap the benefits. It gets him access to the Priority Club lounges at the airports. We get access to a free buffet, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, etc. In Boston Logan airpot we were in Terminal E.
We took the elevator down to the club lounges (I must say it was a bit basement-like), with carpeting on the floors. But, once we entered it was a nice area. There weren’t too many people, but we were actually very hungry. So Michael got some clam chowder and some sandwiches, while I ate some tomato soup and some appetizers.
Kai was hanging with Grammy and Papa upstairs at Durkin Park Pub.
As soon as we boarded I asked the flight attendant if Kai could say hello to the Captain. She said to just give them a moment. But, later she was able to get us some time with the captain! It was neat to view the cockpit and all of the lights and controls and meet the captain!
The flight went without a hitch.
Day 2: Packed Schedule to Combat Jet Lag
I scheduled a lot of activities for us to do the first day we arrived to London so we could all try and stay on schedule and not be too tired the next day. London is currently five hours ahead of New York. We landed at Heathrow airport about four minutes ahead of schedule.
We ended up taking the Underground from Heathrow Terminal 5 to Gloucester Road Station, with an excessive amount of luggage and child in tow. We did not anticipate for the journey to be an issue, but we are all pretty OUT of shape haha, so it definitely was a bit of a challenge. But we made it to the hotel safely.
Unfortunately, our room was not ready upon arrival (since we got there around 11:15am and check-in was at 2pm). But they allowed us to store all of our luggage. We were also able to use their bathroom facilities so we could freshen up a bit and change. We stayed at the Queen’s Gate Hotel.
Our next stop was Royal Albert Hall where we took Kai to a story time and music session for 0-4 year olds. It was £5 for the child only. So it was definitely worth it. The storyteller and singer combined music with story telling. It was quite interactive. Kai had fun!
We secured reservations at Min Jiang Restaurant for 13:00. So we walked from Royal Albert Hall to the Royal Gardens Hotel right at the edge of Kensington Gardens. It is on the 10th floor and overlooks the lush greens. The roasted duck was delicious, along with the ribeye. Everything else was just average, in my opinion. Service was great!
Our plan was to walk towards Diana Memorial Playground, but I guess it was closed 😦 A lot of the other people who showed up were all disappointed so it wasn’t just a surprise to us.
We did a lot the first day we were in London! We visited the Science Museum after the park, and Kai had a lot of fun playing with the interactive exhibits.
Day 3: Tower of London + Transport Museum
Initially we were going to Westfield Stratford City near Victoria Park and the Olympic Village, but it was really very far away from where we were staying. So, we decided to move some things around and head to the Transport Museum after the Tower of London. We did some shopping at Covent Gardens as well as some window shopping at Harrods. I really wanted to check out the toy section with Kai 🙂
Day 4: Buckingham Palace, The Royal Mews, Gardens, Afternoon Tea
We had a late start, which was okay since we just needed to be at Buckingham Palace at 11am to watch the changing of the guards. There were already a bunch of people surrounding the palace to view the changing of the guards. Unfortunately, after standing there for about ten minutes, we noticed a rather small sign that said there was no ceremony today.
Regardless we made our way to the Royal Mews visit which we had previously purchased tickets for. We all enjoyed looking at the horses and the carriages. Afterwards, we took a nice leisurely stroll across to St. James Park where we were able to get really up close and personal with some ducks, squirrels and swans. They were all very friendly, seeking food, etc.
The playground was a wonderful area for Kai to play around in. It had a unique design too, which we thought was pretty cool. We had Afternoon Tea reservations at The Wolseley for 3pm. We got there a little early so we checked out the Royal Academy of the Arts, which was fairly close! There are three free exhibits to view.
After tea, we walked back towards the tube and took it to South Kensington station where we checked out the Dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum.
We were exhausted after that and decided to stay in the rest of the evening.
Day 5: The Postal Museum, Southbank Centre Food Market, + SeaLife Aquarium
We had a really late start our last full day in London, which is okay. It’s vacation. We still made it for the hotel buffet breakfast, which was very tasty. It was about noon when we arrived to the Postal Museum which was about a 10 minute walk after arriving at Russell Square station.chiKai had a blast at Sorted! the children’s play area at the museum.
The Postal Museum is separated into two different sections. The main building has an exhibit that goes through some of the history of the postal service in London. And, there is also the Mail Rail Exhibit, which is down the road and across the street. This is where the children play area is located, along with the the Mail Rail itself.
I must say I had no idea how small those trains would be, but it was to mimic the trains they had when mail was transported using those systems.
Our evenings have been very relaxing considering we pretty much walk everywhere all day. We have also lucked out with the weather while we have been here. NO RAIN at all! That is very rare.
Day 6: Butterflies + Farewell
We depart for Venice, Italy this afternoon! This morning we packed up all of our stuff and went back to the Natural History Museum’s Butterfly Garden exhibit. It was very humid inside. It was really a sight to see all of the beautiful butterflies. The best part was I had a chance to watch one hatch from it’s cocoon! That was definitely a first.
After the garden, I really wanted to check out the photography exhibit at the museum. We had to pay extra to see the exhibit. So Grammy and Papa were kind enough to watch Kai and bring him to see the Bug Exhibit and play outside on the grass.
The Wildlife Photography Exhibit was so amazing and very moving. I absolutely loved spending 45 minutes wandering and really taking it all in. I could have stayed for hours. These are just two of the many pictures that were in the exhibit. Absolutely amazing.
More updates to come soon. I will most likely not purchase a Wifi package on board our cruise, so I will keep everyone posted after we return.