I still have one more London post up my sleeve in coming days. (And Amsterdam. And, well, every other big trip we’ve taken in the last few years that I never blogged about….) In the meantime, here’s a little photo tour of our four days in London.
We stayed at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, located just across this bridge from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Most people don’t think of the South Bank of the Thames when choosing places to stay, but it was a highly convenient location, with Waterloo Station and subway lines two blocks away, bus stops right outside the hotel, or of course an easy stroll by foot across the bridge. We also really enjoyed the hotel. First morning’s check-in was a disaster, after a sleepless transatlantic red eye that left us too tired to do anything but sit in the lobby for three hours waiting for a room to be cleaned. I didn’t think any hotel could overcome that rotten first exposure (not technically their fault since we arrived many hours before check-in time, but still…), but really everything else about our stay was a delight. We paid with hotel loyalty points, and a shockingly low number of points at that (thanks to the Club Carlson credit card that gives you a free night for every loyalty stay), and they even upgraded us to a junior suite with a fold-out couch that made a whole separate bedroom for Vera.
Our hotel was also a block away from the London Eye, so we have plenty of photos that look like this:
The area right at the foot of the London Eye was tourist central, but we were big fans of this carousel. Mr. T and I flipped a coin for who got to ride with Vera, and I lost. At least it was fun to photograph!
Other favorite spots included the Battersea Park Children’s Zoo. It’s small and pricey, but the animals were adorable, and there was a fantastic playground. We figured Vera spent enough time tramping with her parents past great buildings and museums — she should be able to spend an afternoon somewhere extra fun for kids. (And honestly, Mr. T and I are always up for a zoo visit. We love cute little animals at least as much as Vera.)
Mr. T originally researched the zoo because it has meerkats. We used to watch Meerkat Manor every day before school, so we’re big fans. Seeing meerkats in person was just as exciting as we hoped, but the otters next door stole our attention and then stole our hearts. Their tiny otter heads peeked repeatedly over the dividing wall to check what was going on over in the meerkat pen. Once we walked over to the otters themselves, they squealed and came running over to us. We talked to then, they squeaked to us. Friends were made.
Of course we visited Buckingham Palace — which is to say, the fancy gates outside Buckingham Palace. Happy to see it, but we actually had a more memorable time at St. James’s Park next door. Just a few yards away from the tourist hordes, we stepped into this peaceful, lovely scenery.
And a playground with a big sandbox! Meerkats burrow underground in sand tunnels, so our new friend from the Battersea Park Zoo felt quite at home.
One morning, Mr. T got up early to see the Tower of London. He has a particular interest in ancient historic sites, and I could take it or leave it on this visit, so we figured he could move faster without a family entourage.
We met up at Leadenhall Market — one of the random places I remember fondly from my first visit to London in 1993. There’s not much to see at Leadenhall, but it’s atmospheric and worth a quick look. (Sharp-eyed Harry Potter fans might recognize it as the setting for Diagon Alley in the movies.)
On the night after our British Museum visit, we were all starving and Vera was campaigning for French Fries. We happened across Ed’s Easy Diner, which was fun and turned out to be quite tasty for burgers and fries. And if you don’t know Mr. T’s real first name … let’s just say we found the place extra amusing.
Another favorite meal was at Cafe in the Crypt in the St. Martin in the Fields church off Trafalgar Square. The cafeteria meal was just adequate, but the atmosphere was relaxed and the setting so unique.
The rest of the time, we spent many hours riding double decker buses around town, or just walking about catching sight of all the iconic London images.
Our South Bank hotel location meant we crossed a lot of bridges. I love this “grainy black and white” built-in filter on our camera — even something as mundane as crossing a bridge starts looking like an outtake from an old European arthouse film.
And finally, more riverfront views, more crazy camera filters, and another favorite memory of the trip … just wandering along the river, enjoying the sights on a warm spring evening.
Have you ever been to London? What were your favorite memories?