Trip Report - total of 9+ days in London - lots of caffiene
Hi all, I wanted to make a report to thank everyone for all the knowledge and advice I gained from these boards. The trip was 6 months in the planning, and things I'd read kept popping into my head when I needed them. I'm stuck at the airport on my way home do to a delayed fight so....
Day 1 - Friday, April 27 - Woke up on the Calendonian sleeper from Edinburgh. It was a very easy trip, the friend who saw me off in Edinburgh said it was like seeing someone off on an old fashioned ocean liner. Breakfast on board was ok, I lingered a bit since it was quite wet out.
Took the elevator down to the tube and bought an Oyster card from a machine. Put a 7 day zone 1-2 on it and £20. Yesterday, before my last bus ride I had £8.20 left on it - nearly perfect, as I didn't have to worry about travel.
It was almost 7:30 and getting busy in the tube, and I was tired. So I took the elevator back up to the taxi level and took a taxi to my hotel near Victoria. I stayed at the Nadler Victoria for the next 6 nights, it's a lovely concept and hotel. Secure, fast wifi and a kitchenette, food delivery whenever you want it. The location was fine - easy to walk to most of Westminster and 1 block from the tube at Victoria (there's a back passage). My room wasn't ready since it was before 8am, but they took my luggage and fed me more coffee.
It was cold and rainy, but I was enurred after Scotland, so wandered out. I wandered around St. James Park and Westminster for several hours, eventually checking London Walk's website. I joined the Royal London walk - it was a great re-introduction to London. They have it choreographed - we caught the guards going to and from Buckingham Palace and to/from the Horseguards as well as getting all kinds of information about the area etc... There were only 4 of us on the tour thanks to the crummy weather, which was also good (thankfully they hadn't canceled the changing of the guard).
The Nadler had texted me during the tour that my room was ready - so I took the tube back there and had a shower and a change of cloths etc...
I'd booked a walking tour "Monarchy & Parliament" with Context travel - back through St. James Park to Tralfagar square to meet up with it. We were mostly in Westminster Abbey and around it. Talking about the relationships historically and now between the Monarch, Church & Government.
We ended in Parliament Square about 4:30. I was now exhausted and frozen. After getting another latte (I lived on them this day) to carry I crossed Westminster Bridge and walked up the Southbank to the National Theatre. Had a 5:45 reservation in their Terrace Restaurant for dinner. They were very nice and seated me even though I showed up almost 1/2 hour early by myself. I should explain here that for this part of the trip I was sort of traveling with a friend - sort of because of very different circadium cycles, and the fact that the friend decided to join my 4 months into my planning. They were worried about sleeping on a train and took a train down during the day, saw a little bit of a photography show and met me for dinner.
The Terrace restaurant was great - they specialize in small plates, perfect for before a performance. I ate my way through most of one before my friend came and then we shared a bunch. One of my earliest reservations was for a Spring Concert and Queen Elizabeth Hall with James Galway, Menachem Pressler and Daniele DeNiesi - it was an amazing evening. We walked across the river and took the tube back to the hotel from Embankment.
Day 2 - Late the night before I"d gotten a message from another friend & daughter who happened to be in London. It was their first time, and they were only there a couple of days. They'd booked a Taxi (just a black cab driver they'd stumbled on the day before) to give them an early morning overview. I met them t the Russel Tube station at 8am and we whizzed all over for 2hrs. Quite crazy, but I wouldn't have taken the time to go to Abbey Road otherwise. We also saw Notting Hill & Spitalfields markets being set up as well as the Globe, Buckingham Palace etc...
We ended by Madame Tussauds because my crazy friends wanted to go - thankfully the line dissuaded them. We had brunch at a branch of Bills (I always found they had good food and good service). My friends went off to shop and I attempted to go to the Sherlock Holmes museum, but the line sent me fleeing.
Meanwhile the friend I was more or less traveling with woke up and got to Leicester Square around noon, got us tickets to Brief Encounter for that night. When I got that text, I let go of trying to run around too much.
We had 2pm reservations for Tea at Parliament, before 3:40 reservations for a tour there. So, I took the tube to Westminster and just wandered around the neighborhood and the Jewel House.
There was a wedding planned for the normal tea venue, so we got to have tea in the Member's dining room of the Commons - beautiful paneled room. Tea was ok, but not extraordinary.
The tour was good, but we felt rather rushed. Looked at the people with audio guides who could linger with a little longing, but we saw things they could go into, so I think it's a toss up.
After the tour we sat in Westminster Hall for sometime, then grabbed a sandwich in a Pret before the theatre. It was fun to see Noel Coward, and the interplay between the current play and the old movie was fun to see, but it's not the best thing ever done. We took the bus back to the Nadler after the theatre.
This is turnining into a journal - I'll continue in another post.
Read responses in tripadvisor.com