London Part I (December 27, 2012 – January 2, 2013)

We had a fantastic trip to London after Christmas! Our good friends Jes and Derek invited us to travel with them and their two boys, James and Andy. Jes did all of the planning, and we were so grateful to have such an amazing sight-seeing itinerary!

Thursday – Traveling to London
The flight was barely over an hour long. Connor slept for the majority of the flight, and when he woke up towards the end, he played until we landed. We went through customs, picked up our bags, and then realized that Jes and Derek’s stroller hadn’t arrived! They gate-checked it, but somehow it had been left behind and it was on the next flight to London. The lady at baggage service assured them it would be delivered to the hotel by midnight. When we arrived in the terminal, our cab driver was waiting for us. Jes had arranged for an 8-seater for all of us to get to our hotel and back to the airport at the end of our trip, but somehow the company messed up and it was just a regular car. After several minutes of phone conversations, the driver informed us that another driver was on his way. We waited for the second driver, and finally we were on our way to the hotel. It was dark already, but we were able to see a few sights as we drove.

We checked in and brought everything to our rooms, then met Jes and Derek at the hotel restaurant for dinner. Before the trip, we bought a travel booster seat to bring with us in case restaurants didn’t have high chairs. Well, Connor just started sitting up on his own a couple of days before we went to London and he isn’t very steady yet, so neither the travel booster nor the restaurant’s high chair worked for him. I was holding him and trying to keep him entertained with toys, but he was quickly getting fussier. I finally realized it was WAY past his bedtime (it was later than I thought, plus, London is one hour earlier than Germany), so I asked Charlie to bring my dinner to the room and I went upstairs to put Connor to bed. Poor little guy was exhausted! Charlie came up right after Connor fell asleep, I ate my dinner, and we all went to bed.

Jes and Derek’s stroller had not arrived as promised. We had breakfast at the hotel, then waited while Jes tried to track down her stroller. No one she talked to at the airport was helpful, but a hotel employee called for her and quickly straightened things out; the stroller would be delivered by that afternoon!

We went ahead and left for the day. James rode in our stroller, and Andy and Connor were in carriers. There was a newly-renovated tube stop right by our hotel. We already had pre-paid travel cards, so we hopped onto a train and found our way to the Westminster stop. Jes narrated Rick Steves’ self-guided Westminster Walk for us as we saw the sights: Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (we heard Big Ben chime the hour, and learned that “Big Ben” actually refers to the huge bells, not the clock or the tower), saw the London Eye across the river, then walked to Westminster Abbey. It was crowded, of course, but we waited in line to tour the inside. Charlie used an audio guide while Jes and Derek used Rick Steves’ self-guided tour. I was holding Connor, who surely would have thought the audio guide was a toy, so Charlie relayed some of the information to me or held the earpiece up to my ear. What a beautiful church! It is amazing to see so much history in one place. We even saw Handel’s tomb!

Big Ben and ParliamentImage


Westminster AbbeyImage


After touring Westminster Abbey, we walked to the Churchill War Rooms. Connor decided to use this opportunity for his second nap of the day. Charlie was in hog heaven as we wandered through the war rooms and Churchill museum. It was really interesting to see how the rooms were used during World War II.

Next, we walked through Horse Guards Parade. Derek told us about a tattoo that he performed there with the Army Band, and we also learned that the area was covered in sand and used as the beach volleyball site during the 2012 Olympics. We continued our walk and saw the Prime Minister’s residence from the outside. While Connor was busy giggling, I was able to see that a new tooth had popped through! For weeks I had been expecting a front tooth at any moment, but this was the incisor next to the front teeth. He’ll have quite the hillbilly grin until his front teeth come through!

Horse Guards ParadeImage

No, that’s not me in the picture =)


Rick Steves’ walk took us to Trafalgar Square to end our day. We saw the National Gallery and a plaque on the ground identifying the center of the entire city. We took the tube back to the hotel and…Jes and Derek’s stroller had arrived!

Trafalgar SquareImage

For dinner, we decided to walk to a pub that Rick Steves had recommended: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. After Derek wrangled his double stroller up the narrow winding staircase, we all got settled at our table and ordered well-deserved beers. Mealtime was proving to be difficult for Charlie and me since Connor had no place to sit besides our laps, and he was usually getting sleepy (aka fussy…) at that time of day. Somehow we managed to take turns eating, trying to feed him, and holding him. And what visit to a European country would be complete without a food faux pas from yours truly? I’m always up for a local specialty, so I eagerly ordered Steak and Kidney Pudding. I ate all of it and enjoyed every bite! After we finished, Charlie asked me how I liked my dinner. I told him it was great, “but the kidney beans must have been puréed into the sauce because I didn’t notice them…” and then I realized my mistake. Steak and Kidney Pudding, not Steak and Kidney Bean Pudding! I eat kidney beans so often at home that I just assume “bean” when I see “kidney.” Well, that doesn’t change the fact that I enjoyed my dinner! I thought back to one bite of “steak” that had an interesting texture…too late now!

Charlie had a mushroom stroganoff and was still hungry, so we all walked down the street to McDonald’s. Yes, sad but true. Charlie got a burger and fries, and the rest of us ordered McFlurries. The pub and McDonald’s were both on Fleet Street, which I thought was pretty cool. Sweeney Todd, anyone? We never did find his barber shop…

Hopefully the next part of our trip will be posted tomorrow!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marilyn
    Jan 06, 2013 @ 23:09:25

    Oh Ashley, I just love hearing about your adventures and I’m so glad you are adventuresome!!!


  2. U.Steve
    Jan 07, 2013 @ 19:30:58

    Happy Birthday Ashley. And keep eating those local specialties. Sounds like you’ve liked each you’ve tried. And while I’ve been known to visit McD’s while overseas in the Navy, couldn’t you’ve found an Arthur Treacher’s? (I know, i’t tough to just “find” something.


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