We got up excited for a day trip to London. We headed down to the train station with minutes to spare.
After about an hour, we arrived to Marylebone Station in the heart of London. We walked for about 15 minutes to reach Paddington Station, where we sorted out subway passes and (predictably) got coffee. We headed into the tube to Victoria station where we forgot for the first but not last time to take a picture of Lydon Victoria Hubbard in front of a Victoria sign. (Indirectly, Lydie was in fact named for Queen Victoria.) From Victoria, we walked to Buckingham Palace! I don’t know if the Queen got her dates mixed up or what, but she wasn’t there to greet us. With no royal supervision, we stopped in the middle of to take a photo. #classyamericans
It was a gorgeous day, so we decided to walk from the palace towards Parliament. Spring has exploded in London!
We ducked into the Tube to take the subway to the Tower of London. Before arriving to London, we bought a combination “ticket” to go to the Tower and the London Eye, so this was the first of two major sites.
Upon reaching the Tower, we grabbed hot dogs for the kids before heading inside. As we were getting our tickets, a bird pooped on Lydie’s knee.
She took it in stride (literally). I suppose we were overdue for another avian assault. It’s been 80 days exactly since Team Hubbard was last bombed by a bird.
Once in the Tower, we were immediately greeted by a salty old guard who probably could spot kids with a proclivity for climbing on top of old things. Knowing that they were being watched by their parents and by a guard with a very serious hat, the kids managed to refrain from breaking the rules.
The Tower of London is a massive complex, and we enjoyed exploring. Much of the compound was built by Edward I, also known as Edward Longshanks from Braveheart fame. Edward I also built quite a few of the castles we have explored in Wales. He certainly left a lasting mark on the UK, but it sounds like he wasn’t so much loved as feared. The chickadees thought it prudent to pay proper respects to his throne.
We thought about going to see the Crown Jewels, but the line was massive. Cassie and Molly nevertheless gave the guards a careful review to be sure they were up to snuff.
We finished up at the Tower of London and headed off to our next major attraction: the Eye of London. This massive Ferris wheel sits on the edge of the River Thames, and gives wonderful views of the city. It was a picture-perfect spring day, and we were sure that the views would be likewise dynamite. As we crossed over the Thames on a footbridge we realized that the water flowing beneath us could have been the same water through which we had punted the day before.
When we reached the Eye, the line was epically long. Even worse, when we spoke with an Eye employee about our pre-paid “tickets,” we learned that we actually didn’t have tickets. Instead, we had a voucher to get a ticket. Worst of all, the Eye was sold out for the day. With the beautiful weather, unexpectedly large numbers of people bought tickets for the Eye. Disaster! The kids were disappointed, but Lydie and Cassie almost immediately piped up with our go-to motto: There are no mistakes in travelling.
(At the risk of sermonizing, I feel like I should clarify. There are of course mistakes when we travel. We’ve made heaps. But that’s actually the point of our motto. When we are travelling, the mistakes are inevitable. Much of the time, though, they simply lead to fun new experiences. More than that, exactly because the mistakes are unavoidable, we are trying to remind ourselves that we should let them distract us from our adventures. And besides, most of the mistakes are Julie’s fault. #alternatefacts)
We scrambled to come up with a new activity, working with the not-so-effective booking company that sold us the London Eye not-tickets. The best we could do given our location and the short notice was an interactive Disney-esque walk-through theater experience based on Shrek and incorporating elements from other DreamWorks movies. The kids embraced it with enthusiasm and gusto, enjoying themselves immensely. Cassie in particular.
I mean she seriously got into it.
I don’t think Molly even noticed.
Next time we pass by a circus, I think we should keep a close eye on Cassie. She might try to join it.
We finished up with a sunset walk back towards Parliament along the same bridge where a terrorist had driven a car into dozens of pedestrians just a couple of weeks earlier.
Many flowers and notes had been laid at an impromptu memorial in front of Parliament, and we talked to the kids about the positive messages that many people left in response to the attack.
After a quick bit of shopping, we headed back to the train station the way we arrived, starting with Victoria Station, where we forgot for a second time to take a picture of Lydie. Even better, we got to Marylebone in time to have a drink. The girlians celebrated a great day in London with milkshakes and cards.
Even with the disappointment of the Eye and the Queen not inviting us in for tea, the girls (and the adults) were all delighted with our day in London.