We are finally starting to feel settled in our new home and everyone is back on a good schedule! This means it was due time to venture out to London. For our first trip we really didn’t have any expectations aside from getting introduced to the city. The only box I wanted to check for the day was the London Eye- Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel. So to get a basic sense of what we wanted to explore during our time here we decided to book a hop on hop off bus. The base travel office sells tickets to the Big Bus as well as the London Eye. My kids were free so we only had to buy adult tickets; $35 for the bus tour per person and $26 for the London Eye.
After doing a little research on the public transportation in London we went with the suggestion from a friend and drove the 1:20 to the outer skirts of London and parked at the Stratford Mall. Driving this far to catch the tube meant we spent more time in the car which is better for the kids; after all, the tube is pretty crowded. We purchased our tickets at the Stratford station and took the Jubilee line 20 minutes directly to Waterloo station. The station is about two blocks from the London Eye and other attractions. All in all it was pretty easy to get around. Smart phones make everything easy!
Once we got to the Eye the kids immediately spotted a carousel so of course we had to ride that. By that time we were getting hungry so we made a stop into the Southbank Centre next door which has restrooms and several cafe’s. We came upon a chain type restaurant called Giraffe that was extremely child friendly with a bonus of looking over the Thames River. They gives the kids balloons, paper, crayons and a toy straw. They even gave the kids small cups with lids (the first since we have arrived) and they loved the smoothies. Giraffe also plays music which is something else that isn’t as common here. Music drowns out the noise your children sometimes make. Music is good. I highly recommend eating here if you are travelling with small children. The kiddos had smoothies and nachos, I had a burger, and Ben had the duck pad thai.
I am glad we decided to eat first because that made Carter tired and he fell asleep as soon as we got in line for the London Eye. The line ended up taking about 20-30 minutes and had he been awake that would have made for a disaster. Honey badger doesn’t wait in queues. Honey badger likes to run around. Crises averted.
Each capsule holds about 20 people and you are free to roam around and take pictures. Once a daredevil- my fear of heights has slowly gotten worse over the past few years; usually when I don’t feel secure. Ever since I had a scary encounter rappelling from a tree in a Malaysian jungle I haven’t been the same. So I basically sat in the center of the capsule for the 30 minutes while everyone around me had their noses stuck to the glass looking 440 feet down. Carter slept the entire time!
Next, we made it over to the bus stop and caught the Big Bus tour. We knew we just wanted an idea of what we might want to visit more in depth for future visits so we mostly stayed on the bus. With a hop on hop of bus you have the option to get off anytime you like and then hop back on a bus to go see the next site. Some of the attractions include the London bridge, Big Ben, Tower of London, St. Paul’s cathedral and Westminster Abbey. If you don’t want to get off the bus you can take pictures right from where you are sitting.
The one thing I HAD to get off the bus for on our introduction to the city day was Buckingham Palace. There was no way I could ride past and not get off! Just being there made me giddy. We let the boys stretch their legs, took pictures and just admired the beauty before us. Before I leave I am going to find a way to see the Queen in public!
Behind the palace is Green park which has plenty of green grass to run in and daffodils to admire so we spent a good bit of time hanging out there and people watching. There was a little cafe stand that sold ice cream so the boys each got a cone and mama got a latte because I was in need of my second wind!
Afterwards we decided it was time to head back to the car. We walked past Green park to the Green Park station and bought tickets on the Jubilee line straight to Stratford. The tube was really crowded so we had to stand for 25 minutes but the boys were so excited to be on a train they didn’t care. Back at the mall (which is massive) we were heading for the car park but we spotted a Disney store so of course we had to stop in. Then we spotted an apple store (hello, second wind) and eventually got hungry so we stopped into the food court and got something to eat. This mall has some great shopping and extensive dining so I will be back!
Kellan immediately fell asleep when we got in the car and Carter sat and watched Inside Out on the ipad mini so the trip back was nice and quiet. Got home at 7:30 just in time for baths and bedtime. All in all going to London was fairly easy and now that we know what we are doing our next adventures should be a breeze. I plan to go as much as we can while we are here so expect plenty of blogs on the city in the future!