Mind The Gap!

Could there be a more iconic Londoners phrase than “Mind the Gap”? There’s a challenge for you. But seriously, Mind that Gap.

I could spend a lifetime in London. I talk a lot about how I love Calgary, but seriously though, London has it all.

The history alone is enough to keep you there exploring for years.
We took our first trip as a family of 3 to London, England. Our first international trip with our then, 10-month-old daughter.
Was it a challenge? Some days, definitely. Was it a thrill? Everyday!

I struggled with how I was going to write this post. There’s so much that I want to fit into a blog about London, but I didn’t want to over do it either. So, I think for my first ‘London’ blog I’ll just give a quick overview of our visit with some tips, and later follow up with our individual experiences of our favorite places.

My husband had been to London numerous times, spending the equivalent of several months in the ginormous city. Giving us a much welcomed, insiders tour in a way; some Do’s and Don’ts.

We had decided before hand that we were going to try and fit in as many sites as we could in our 10 day stay. I surprised myself with how well we did; despite my back injury (done the day we flew to London), and breastfeeding a baby.

natural history museum

“Natural History Museum” – Look it’s DIPPY!

I compiled a list of all the sites I wanted to see before the trip. Sat down for a whole weekend and just researched and talked with my husband. Concluded that I was unrealistic (sigh) and narrowed it down to a top 15.
In no particular order, they were:

  1. Big Ben/Parliament
  2. London Eye
  3. Westminster Abbey
  4. Trafalgar Square
  5. Natural History Museum
  6. National Gallery
  7. Buckingham Palace
  8. James Park
  9. Kings Cross/Platform 9 ¾ (Self-Proclaimed Geek)
  10. Tower of London
  11. British Museum
  12. Prime Meridian in Greenwich
  13. Harrods (I’m a shopper)
  14. Monument of Great London Fire 1666
  15. British Library

st.james park

“St. James’s Park” – Serene park next to Buckingham Palace to picnic.

I’d love to share some tips that helped our family adventure:

  • It rained almost every day we were there. Nothing but RDF (rain, drizzle, fog) our whole visit. We made the most of it though, coming prepared with all our rain gear. Living in Newfoundland most all our lives, we were very familiar with RDF.
  • Buy an oyster card! I suggest going online before your trip and getting your London Pass on your cell phone. There is a £6.60 spending cap for each day, so you don’t have to worry about making too many trips on the Tube, buses or light rail in one day. London has the best transit system I’ve seen. Clean, well-organized and carefree travel.
  • Avoid taking Taxi’s at all costs. They will eat up your daily budget in no time.
  • We stayed in an apartment in the Limehouse district, and at a Premier Inn, near Kings Cross during our stay. I’d go back to the Apartment on our next visit. The ‘Homey’ conveniences were great, and much cheaper than a hotel.
  • London is very expensive! Make your meals whenever you can, if at all possible. Treat yourself to great London Restaurants, but keep it minimal, or all your budget will be gone to food.
  • There are MANY free attractions in London, start with those!
    Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Park, British Museum, National Gallery, And National History Museum are just a few of the Free attractions you can take advantage of.
  • Just walk and explore. You’d be surprised what you would come across from a lil stroll around the city. That’s how you find those hidden gems.
  • There are big lineups for many attractions, so plan out your days, get up early and get in line!
    When we went to visit Westminster Abbey, we waited in a huge, huge line up. 3 hours long! Also, it costs 20GBP/each to enter. Unless you say you are there to worship, but it’s only open to worshipers on Sundays.
  • Buckingham Palace is another one worth getting there 3-4 hours early. Yes, you read that correctly! The crowds waiting to see the changing of the guard were unreal. And unless you’re there VERY, VERY early, expect to see the festivities by your cellphone and selfie stick only after it’s all said and done. (Boo)
  • We bought our tickets ahead of time for the Tower of London, and glad we did. They tend to sell out quite fast. While you wait, you can always grab some fish and chips and sit along the Thames overlooking Tower Bridge.
  • Look at a map, see what attractions are in walking distance of each other and plan your day around them. For instance, we started our day at Buckingham Palace, off to St. James’s Park for a picnic, 10 downtown street, Churchill war rooms, Big Ben/Parliament and Westminster Bridge. Westminster Abbey is in that area as well, but we saved that for another day on account of the lineup.

buckingham palace.JPG

“Buckingham Palace – Changing of the Guard” –  I didn’t lie about the crowds!

London was fantastic, and full of extremely friendly people. Many times, I was offered help in the tube stations that weren’t stroller accessible, multiple men offered to help lift my daughter’s stroller up or down several flights of stairs at the tube on multiple occasions. So, don’t be afraid to ask to help when needed. Londoners are more than accommodating.

I honestly can’t wait to get back to this magnificent city.

Ta-Ta for now pipsqueaks,

Gem’s mom out!

London.JPG

“London” – I Love This Pic! Everyone needs to take a picture like this if you visit London!

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