The last leg of our trip to England was fun and walking packed, but the especially exciting part was NO RAIN (mostly)!!!!Truly, it was just exciting! the people, food, shops, and sites were beyond words.
I’d like to recommend the book “Walking London: The Best of the City-a Step-by-Step Guide” by National Geographic. This small book was $14.95 and worth every penny! We used this book every day, often pulling out in crowds so that it was clear we were tourists. It is a small book filled with walking maps and wonderful pictures. Each map is to a particular neighborhood and marks many of the points of interest. The map tells you how many miles you will walk (minus the miles inside the museums-pant, pant, whew), how long it will take-including museums, and the starting tube stop. This gave us the opportunity to tour London and see as much as possible. We had a general idea of the points of interest we wanted to see, but because we were walking we could easily stop off in any little shop as along the way. If we were not on foot we would have missed the small independent little shops and beautiful architecture. Here is how our week went:
Day 1: Bloomsbury neighborhood, 4 miles (walked to 221 b Baker St. too)
- St. George’s Bloomesbury
- The Cartoon Museum
- The British Museum – This is extraordinary. If you cannot dedicate the whole day you will need to look at the museum guide and let everyone pick their top item or items to see. It is amazing, mummies, fashion, Rosetta stone, roman art, ….
- The British Library – there is more than just books here! There is a great cafe, because for some reason everything in England has a cafe?? The artifacts are overwhelming; things like original Shakespeare, Bach, Mozart pieces and the -THE- Magna Carta. Do not skip this one
- 221 B Baker St. – Sherlock Holmes home. Yes, I know he is fictional, but if you walk around the museum/home you will also have trouble believing it.
- St. Pancras Station – this is an amazing piece of architecture and tube/train station. We were fortunate enough to stay here in the old clock tower which had been converted into a condo. We used www.airbnb.com and had wonderful stays in each place with wonderful hosts.
- We finished the night with sandwiches back at the clock tower. Note, the sandwiches in London are amazingly wonderful sandwiches with great flavor combinations and fantastic breads. One place to try is Pret a Manger (http://www.pret.co.uk/) which we did not try until the last day, where I discovered that they have excellent coffee-dang it! 2 weeks of crap coffee, if I’d only known. But, now you do.
Day 2: Kensington/South Kensington Neighborhood, 5 miles. We walked much more than this throughout this day. The gardens, small shops we stopped in etc. were interesting and beautiful. It was a wonderful day.
- Natural History Museum – again, pick your top things to see unless you have the whole day!
- Harrods – this is 5 stories of amazingness. You can shop for anything! The food market is filled with fresh breads, pasties, sausages, cheeses, wines, and so much more. Harrods has 28 different types of restaurants and cafes. The toy department is like something from the movies. Be prepared to spend many, many hours here. We ate lunch at the Deli, buuuut I think deli means “fine sandwiches”.
- Royal Albert Hall & Albert Memorial
- Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Garden
- Kensington Palace (just the outside-it was closed) Even just seeing the outside was beautiful
- Holland Park
- Carlucci’s Italian Restaurant. We had been told that the food was bland in England. We didn’t find this to be true. This Italian was terrific.
Day 3: Windsor- Margaret Thatcher’s funeral was Wednesday and people suggested we do something outside of London proper because of the traffic issues. We spent a relaxing day in Windsor.
- Windsor Castle – The queen is often in residence here and calls this home. Room by room it was overwhelming. At some point we couldn’t absorb the opulence any more. My daughter casually remarked “look, more gold”. The portrait gallery of the queen was especially interesting. We were inches away from original paintings by Andy Warhol. Breathtaking.
- The town of Windsor and shops. The shops range from sweet little independent shops to large chains. They even have a TJ Maxx (only it is TK Maxx there).
- The Horse and Crown Pub- 1500’s pub
Day 4: South Bank, 3.5 miles (probably more)
- Big Ben and Parliament
- The London Eye – spend the extra to go up in the London Eye. The view is amazing, you will be glad you went.
- Shakespeare’s Globe – the day we went it we they were rehearsing “The Tempest” and we were able to sit in and watch. It was thrilling.
- Giraffe (for lunch)
- Walking down the Thames
- Clink Street – narrow street with an outdoor market and ancient roads.
- Euston Flyer Pub-We enjoyed the pub food and had a wonderful pear cider here- I’m waiting for ciders to become more popular here.
Day 5: SHOPPING!! Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, Chinatown. We walked more miles than we want to count.
- My daughter and I went into as many shops as possible on Oxford and Regent Streets while my husband went to the antique store where he held a 15,000 pound travel sphere in his hand and then put it down.
- Chinatown – the smells and colors are intriguing and beautiful
- National Gallery – astounding! The brain cannot contain the reality of the number of famous pieces of art that can be seen. It was a wonderfully surreal experience.
- Soho Square
- Leicester Square – this is the theater district and M&M world is there!!! 4 stories of candy goodness.
- Trafalgar Square
- Piccadilly Circus
- Did I say shopping!
- Ending with Hard Rock Cafe London where we sat next to Santana’s guitar!
Day 6: Windsor again. This last full day we decided to go back to Windsor because it was so relaxing. We were so tired by then and found this to be the perfect way to end our time in England.
- Shops, shops, Shops
- Crooked House Tea shop – We had a true British Tea
Day 7: Relaxing breakfast, packing and off to the airport, where I had the wonderful, delightful, heavenly coffee.
I am sure I have left out many places, fine foods, and more, but couldn’t possibly write it all down. We met interesting and kind people everywhere we went and we are grateful for the opportunity we had to go. I hope we will go back often! Thank you for walking through our travels with us. I have added a few more pictures to flickr.com-Enjoy!