20190819

Four Days in London

Spoiler - It's going to be a long one.

This summer we set off on another adventure.. first stop was the great city of London. Since our 2018 spring trip to Morocco we have started to take red eye flights.. this way we can start our explorations bright and early and call it an early night. M and I don't really get much quality sleep but we power through.. the important thing is that the kids get their zz's.

We stayed at The Blandford Hotel in the Marylebone area and were just a few minutes away from the Baker Street Metro Station. The hotel was perfectly located.. the room was a little on the small side but everything was clean, the staff so nice and included a free breakfast.

DAY 1: We were ready to start the day around noon. We began with a quick lunch at Chik'n and then headed to Buckingham Palace.

     
We didn't go inside.. and it was nothing really special from the outside. We missed the changing of the guard but the two guards did march around. There were so many tourist everywhere and we not could wait to get away. None of the royals actually live in Buckingham Palace though most of them do have private apartments that they use when in town for their royal duties.


Outside the palace was the Queen Victoria Memorial Fountain. 

Next we headed towards Westminster Abbey, we did not go inside. 

A decade ago when we had just started to travel we used to go inside everything.. spend hours visiting the insides of churches, cathedrals, historic residences and palaces.. but we have now changed how we travel.. we'd rather explore neighborhoods and get the vibe of the city rather then go through a touristy checklist of the things everyone is doing. Many years ago when I watched Midnight in Paris I thought to myself 'man did I do Paris wrong'

Across the street was Elizabeth Tower.. better known as Big Ben. Fun fact - Big Ben is actually the name of the large bell inside the tower which is part of the Westminster Palace. Elizabeth Tower was under construction so not really a sight to see.



We headed towards Trafalgar Square.. we took a little break at a Costa Coffee inside a Waterstones Bookshop.


and then continued our walk towards Covent Garden, a lovely covered market in the West End. We first stopped at Milk Train to get these pretty ice creams! In the end it was just vanilla ice cream surrounded by cotton candy but they looked so pretty!



We continued on wards to Neal's Yard.. a colorful courtyard lined with shops and eateries..


We wanted to wrap up the first day early so we walked along a bit of Oxford Street.. the equivalent of New York's Fifth Avenue and then took an Uber back to Marylebone and ate at Zizi's Italian. Thankfully, we had only one little drizzle on our first day and otherwise the weather was lovely.

DAY 2: On the second day we got another great weather day. Coming to London, weather was one of my biggest concerns.. as adults we could power through rain but I wan't sure how the boys would react to it.

We had breakfast at the hotel and then headed to the Baker Street Station. Pro Tip - when headed to a large metropolitan city like London using the metro system is ideal. And being a few minutes away from a metro station makes it all so much more easier.


We exited at the Liverpool Station and made our way towards Old Spitalfields Market. This market has been in existence for over 350 years. But before we reached the market we stopped at It's a Butter Life for a slice of cake. The owners were so sweet.. when H couldn't settle on a flavor they gave us a bite of each! H finally picked a raspberry cake.


Old Spitalfields Market was full of artisans and artists.. there were a quite a few people selling beautiful OOAK clothing.. it felt like something out of Project Runway. One of my favorite artists there was David Wright who made insects of of recycled computer parts. He has an Etsy store where you can see his work.

We ate at the market.. unfortunately we both made some bad choices and neither of us loved our meals. Afterwards we headed to Brick Lane.. It was a Sunday so it was very busy..



Being of South Asian decent we weren't really looking for curry which Brick Lane is especially famous for or trying any of the cultural sweets.. But we did find really delish non South Asian gelato at a place called Dark Sugars.

We took another metro to the King's Cross Station. I gotta say.. London is doing a good job with their metro system.. they are so much larger, cleaner and there seemed a much smaller chance of being attacked by rats or an infectious disease on them then in the New York subway system.. eek.


While the boys have not starting reading Harry Potter yet and they have absolutely not watched any of the movies we did want to go see Platform 9 3/4. So we explained to them what it was all about and then went off to locate it.. to our disappointment there was a huge line... like a 100 plus people.. it was like a Disney attraction.. no way were we going to get in that line..


From there we got on yet another metro.. it was H's favorite thing to do.. and went to Camden Market.


While the Camden Market itself was extremely touristy and crowded it was the Camden Locks that we really liked. There were so many great food stalls and since we didn't have a great lunch M and I shared a roll from Roti House and just enjoyed the canal. We could have spent more time here eating our way through the market but we had dinner plans with an old friend and needed to keep our stomachs relatively empty.

We walked along the canal for a bit.. walking through a portion of Regents Park and then made our way to Primrose Hill for the view of the city. The view was alright.. not really picture worthy. Once we were done.. we grabbed and Uber and headed to Edgware Road for dinner.


Day 3: The sun was shinning and it was a beautiful day! We started the morning with the uber touristy London Eye. It's not something we would be drawn to.. we had people telling us it was a must as well as those saying it was a rip off and so slow and boring..


We actually enjoyed it and are very glad we went on it. If you decide to go buy tickets in advance.. even if it is just the night before.. and print the tickets out. It will save you a lot of time in the long long lines. I did notice they had some self service kiosks with smaller lines but we skipped all of that with our printed tickets in hand.. the line to get on the Eye was quick moving. Each capsule is quite large and they don't over crowd it with too many people..


Yes, it was a slow moving ferris wheel but it gave us ample time to whip out our phones and figure out everything we were seeing.. nerds.

Big Ben and Westminster

Out of the Eye and on to the Tate Museum of Modern Art. It was a free museum with a few restricted areas for paid visitors only. It was still large enough that we had to breeze though some of the areas.. we couldn't afford more than two hours at the museum.. I always have mixed feelings at a modern art museum.. I can't wrap my head around most of the pieces people have decided to call art.. 


A wall of carpet? I did very much like the Everything is Illuminated series of photographs by Naoya Natakeyama


The Tower of Babel by Cildo Meireles.. each radio was playing.. initially white noise till you listen a little closer. 

From the Tate Museum we headed to the Borough Market.. hungry.. M and I split up to get some food. I got the channa chaat from Horn OK Please and M got a salted beef sandwich and the boys got some pasta. There was no where to sit.. :(


Really good food.. I wish we had larger stomachs and we able to eat more but we needed to save a little space for Bread Ahead's magnificent doughnuts. They sell more than just donuts and everything looked absolutely delectable. 



Next stop Tower Bridge! We walked along the Thames to get to the Tower Bridge. 



We bought tickets to go up the bridge.. it was a short elevator ride up.. followed by a short but very informative video about the history of the bridge. Did you know the lower part of the bridge actually raises up to let boats pass? There are two horizontal walkways connecting the towers.. they are enclosed and have a section of glass bottoms allowing you to see the cars go by.


We finished crossing the bridge and walked around the Tower of London.. they had a lot of information about the tower at various points. We read a bit about it not feeling the need to go inside. It was once a fortress, an armory, a royal residence and a prison. It is also home to the crown jewels.


We went to St. Dustan's in the East, once a church its ruins are now a public garden. It was destroyed during WWII. It was a hidden gem.. emphasis on the hidden.. we almost walked right past it. M and I took a break.. the kids played in the ruins. It seemed to be a popular spot for taking insta outfit shots..




From there we took another metro from there to Chelsea. We spied the Monument to the Great Fire of London. The plan was to have dinner and dessert in Chelsea after we wandered the streets for a bit. But we were running a little late now.. so we wandered a little less.. and we couldn't really find a restaurant so we had dessert instead..


We shared a raspberry eclair.


Then we went to Peggy Porschen and had more dessert! I really loved all the flowers outside of the stores.. so pretty.

 H's choice

 D's choice

M and I shared

After we'd had our share of sweets we got an Uber and headed back towards our hotel to grab dinner at Nando's.

DAY 4: Our last day in London and we finally saw her true nature.. it rained all day long. We started our day in Nottingham.. the rain had put a damper on things.. the Portobello Market still hadn't fully opened..



We stopped to have lunch at GBK Burgers which was very good.. and then made our way over to Paddington Station the home of Paddington Bear.



From Paddington we took an Uber to The British Museum. The rainy day made it a bit crowded but it was large enough to contain everyone.. it was also free as I think all museums should be..


Okakagbe masquerade costumes made by the late Lawrence Ajanaku. It was a great, incredibly informative museum and a wonderful way to end our 4 days in London. The kids greatest disappointment was not being able to meet the Queen. 


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30 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Wow, you covered a lot of London in only 4 days! Your boys are so cute! Yes, the Underground is definitely the way to get around. When we were there, we used the "hop-on, hop-off bus" to get around to various attractions too. Your photos are great!

Jennifer said...

I'm dying to go to London!

Jennifer
Effortlessly Sophisticated

Heather{Our Life In a Click} said...

So fun! You guys did a lot! We were there between Christmas and New Years a few years ago so it's interesting to see how it all looks in warmer weather. We had great weather too but of course it was cooler. We did the London Eye at night and that was so cool! I would love a daytime trip too. Thanks for sharing!

Veronica Lee said...

How fun! We did London 8 years ago. It's nice to see London through your eyes.

Gorgeous photos as always, Hena.

Kelly said...

What a fun four days!! I've loved London the times I've visited. We rode The Eye and really enjoyed the slow-paced view. FYI, Las Vegas has one called the High Roller that is fun, too. We timed it where we ascended in the last of the daylight, getting to enjoy the Vegas lights as we came back down.

Someone looks mighty good in their cool new glasses. ;) I don't remember seeing him in them before.

Sandi said...

Great photos, Hena! Especially the one of your little guy in the window at St. Dunstan's.

"The Tower of Babel by Cildo Meireles.. each radio was playing.. initially white noise till you listen a little closer."

That is a really cool idea.

R's Rue said...

Beautiful photos.

Lisa said...

What a fabulous trip and photos! I, too, agree that even though the London Eye is touristy, it's worth it! Your boys look like great little travelers!
Lisa :)
https://midlifeinbloom.com/

Chatty Crone said...

Lots of good desserts - I am with you on that.
Also the most beautiful sites and wonderful history.
You are so blessed.
I wonder if the children know what all they were privileged to see.
I'd love to go!
sandie

Emmylou said...

Another great travel adventure:) You guys are such troopers. LOLZ on the boys' disappointment:D And that's too bad about the long line up at Platform 9 and ¾/. Maybe next time...

Elephant's Child said...

You packed a LOT in to your four days. And some deliciousness too.
Thank you for taking us along.

Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom said...

I love reading about your travels! London is on my list. Ohhh, that ice cream surrounded by cotton candy looks good and I've never had that kind of combo before.

Carrie
curlycraftymom.com

BLovedBoston said...

You guys did so much!! Everything is so picturesque in London! xo, Biana-BlovedBoston

Ruth Josey said...

What a marvelous trip! I'm all in favor of skipping a meal to go straight to dessert - especially when there are so many fabulous places and beautiful desserts! That first ice cream with the fluff halo around it looks wonderful! That's how I want all of my ice cream to be. Despite the rain, it looks like a great trip. So many picture-perfect opportunities and the boys look adorable! I agree with you on the museums, though they probably need a source of income. They should be free - at least when you're toting around little people. It's a great educational experience for them....or they're bored silly and you're having to deal with that rather than to enjoy the exhibits. Thanks so much for sharing your trip through your post and the beautiful photos!

Ruth
www.VogueFauxReal.com

awhite said...

I love London so much- it's such an amazing city with so much history! Your photos took me back! :)

-Ashley
Le Stylo Rouge

Sparkles and Lattes said...

This reminds me of all my favorite places in London. I LOVED the Camden Market. So cool there. And Milk Train. So good. Looks like a great time!

Polyester Princess said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog! I popped over to yours immediately and loved reading your account of your London trip. Like you, I love exploring neighbourhoods to get the vibe of a place. It's really been far too long since I was in London myself, although for me it's just an hour's flight, from Belgium. I also had a look at your Etsy shop, and I just love your photographs! xxx

Rowena @ rolala loves said...

Looks like you made the most of your time there. London is one of my favorite cities and I really want to visit again now.

Suzanne @ The Bookish Libra said...

My family and I really liked the London Eye when we visited a few years ago too. I agree with you about their metro system too, definitely one of the nicer ones I've used. Thanks for sharing your traveling adventures with us. :)

glamorous without the guilt said...

London is full of sightseeing places look like you and kids have a great time

Have a nice day
Kinza Khushboo
Blog
Glamorous without the Guilt
Bloglovin | Glamorous without the Guilt

Sasha said...

What a fabulous time you all had! What great experiences for your boys! Love your photos. ;) XXX

karen said...

what fun! I'll be showing this to my husband just for ideas. You and your family are beautiful. (I love rainy days as opposed to sunny for being out and about, the crowds are less and it's not as hot)

Debbie said...

this sounds like a great trip, the deserts look awesome!!!

those 2 boys of your are so cute and so funny!!

LianaLaurie said...

Wow, this sounds lovely ♥ I hope I can visit London some day!
A big hello from Germany!
Hugs ♥

E said...

I'm dying to plan a family trip to London! Thank you so much for sharing this!

District of Chic

theonethattravels said...

London is so high on my bucket list
My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zorica_miteva/
My Blog: https://theonethattravels.wordpress.com/

Stefanie said...

What a great trip. Loved seeing all the yummy food you had there.

Ivana Split said...

You have seen a lot of London in 4 days!

Jeanie said...

You were in my favorite big city and saw lots of things I've never seen -- much of this trip is on my next-time list! I'm taking notes! I'm sorry Portobello Market hadn't got going when you were there, although that's one of the spots where you make a plan to "meet here if we get separated" because (on a Saturday at least) there are TONS of people and it's easy to get separated. But that's part of what makes it fun. I remember that street where you took the photos -- I loved that street with the colorful buildings. What a fabulous experience you are giving your children, Hena.

Didiey. said...

Looks like a fun trip! And little wizards are so cute!

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