Some friends of mine are heading out to London very soon and I am so very excited for them. I know they are bound to have a magical time!
Although we were there with our children and they will there without theirs, I think I might have a few ideas for them:
I would begin as we did with a birds-eye view on the London Eye. This fantastic attraction of fully enclosed, glass-walled, climate-controlled capsules takes you 443 feet into the air on a slow-rotating ferris wheel-type apparatus. From a safe perch, you can see 25 miles in every direction! It was a fantastic way for us to get a preview of what our vacation had in store.
The ‘flight’ takes about 30 minutes and it is breathtaking.
I’m a bit afraid of heights, but I still felt safe… as long I was close to the middle of the capsule. (My kids, however, leaned against the walls, which made me a bit uneasy. Oh well.)
The London Eye is located on the South bank of the River Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament. Ticket prices range from free for those under four, to 17 pounds fifty for adults. (Check specific prices here.)
Changing of the Guard and the Dismounting of the Horse Guard
Of course no visit to London would be complete without witnessing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The changing of the guard takes place at 11:30 a.m. mostly on odd-numbered dates, but check with your hotel concierge or the official website to be sure there haven’t been any changes in the schedule. Plan to get there early to get a good spot. During a busy season, like the summer, I would suggest getting there 40 minutes early, but at other times, 15 minutes should be just fine. The ceremony takes 30 minutes. For more information, check out these websites:
When we were there, we watched only a part of the Changing of Guard Ceremony, as our kids lost interest, and we were pretty far back in the crowd. So we decided to check out the Dismounting of the Horse Guards, a less-known ceremony where you really can get up close. This is at 4 p.m. daily. The adults in our group loved it
But here is what the kids enjoyed from their front-row ‘seats:’
Strolling through Covent Garden can be quite an eyeful. In addition to interesting shops and restaurants, there are lots of street performers juggling, posing as statues, performing magic tricks and the like. In addition to the roving performers, there is always a show on in the piazza.
Granted, I would say about 80% of the jokes are a bit off-color, but the skills these performers show still is breathtaking as they balance, climb, yell, tell jokes, juggle knives, fire and whatever else it takes to keep the crowd amazed.
Tower of London and the Crown Jewels
Visiting the Tower of London, adjacent to the Tower Bridge (That’s the famous bridge that is quite beautiful– the London Bridge is not so grand. Most tourists confuse the two.), takes you back into a more gruesome time of beheadings in London. Although I don’t like to think about such icky things, visiting the Tower is fascinating.
Because we had such a large group with many children, we arranged for a guide, who was fantastic and worth every pound. As a couple, or a few adults, you could definitely experience the Tower on your own. Yeoman Warders, also referred to as Beefeaters, in their striking red coats, are available to answer questions and share the stories of the Tower. The Tower of London also houses the Crown Jewels which, of course are impressive.
My husband and I were thrilled to arrange a sitter and have a night just for the grown-ups.
Our concierge was able to book us a table at La Cuisine de Joel Robuchon, a restaurant our concierge described as a not-so-stuffy French restaurant.
I’ll admit I felt a little intimidated by it at first, but then I decided to just have fun and, well, we did.
The decor is modern, interesting and beautiful
And the food was fantastic. Because I really had little idea of what I was ordering, I asked our waiter for his suggestion and was very pleased.
And then took a rickshaw ride to Gordon’s Wine Bar, London’s oldest wine bar. The bar goes underground, with wine barrels serving as tables under the low tunnel-like ceilings. The ambience is fantastic and the wine was delicious, too. It was a bit crowded, but definitely worth it, even if just to look around at many of the press clippings, photographs and decorative items throughout from the early 1900s.
While visiting London, there were several other things we did and enjoyed as a family (LegoLand at Windsor, the Princess Diana Memorial Playground at Kensington Gardens, shopping along Bayswater Road on Sunday afternoon and visiting with a family who had had been our neighbors in the States, to name a few) but I thought I’d just list these today in hopes that our friends (and maybe you, too) could plan a quick trip and enjoy some of our greatest hits for adults in London.
Hope they (and may be you) have a fantastic trip! Cheers!
(And more on the more kid-friendly tips another day…)