What a bloody stupid title for a post. And an even stupider task.
There is so much to do in London it’s almost impossible to know where to start. But I’m gonna try.
Theo and I are heading to the UK for three weeks in October. It’s kind of The Pilgrimage, part 2. In 2014, I took Nathan up that way and now, finally, it’s Theo’s turn.
For me, of course, a lot of the trip is about the football. Theo seems to be far more attuned to the game than his older brother, so I’m hoping he won’t spend all his time at the games we go to wanting to play on my phone…
As Tottenham fans we could become regulars at Wembley during the time we’re in the UK. Spurs have home Premier League games on consecutive weekends while we’re there (against Bournemouth then Liverpool) while there’s a Champions League match week squeezed in between those two games, with a 50/50 chance of it being at home.
To top that off, England has a home game a couple of days after we arrive and with tickets being 30 quid for the two of us to get into the family area we’ll probably look seriously at that too. I expect tickets for the Spurs games will be much harder to come by.
We’ll try to fit in several other games on our travels around England and Ireland, so the football’s sorted.
But London. Wow, so much to do and so little time.
I’ve been there plenty of times, to the point where it almost seems like going home when the plane lands at Heathrow. Many of the places I’ll take Theo will be things I’ve done plenty of times before, but I love playing the tour guide so have absolutely no issues doing it all again.
We have three nights in London at the start of our trip, then four nights at the end before we jump on the A380 to head home. Here’s what we’ll probably do…
Day 1: Arrival
I always try to get a flight that arrives early in the afternoon. This allows you plenty of daylight to get to the hotel while not needing to pay for an early check in. And it’s late enough in the day to have a few hours to settle before the jetlag kicks in and turns you into a zombie.
The Heathrow Express is the quickest way to get from the airport to the city. We’ll then jump in a cab for the approx. 15 minute drive across to the hotel (cost is about 20 quid). There are plenty of places to stay in London but I usually end up heading back to the Premier Inn County Hall (we’re there this time too). The cost is part of the reason, but I mainly go there because it’s so well located. The cab ride across also gives newcomers a taste of the city, taking in Hyde Park Corner, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Westminster Bridge and the London Eye.
After checking in we’ll have a wander around the local area – back across the river to Trafalgar Square, down Whitehall, past Big Ben and back home across Westminster Bridge. The County Hall’s restaurant is ideal for feeding kids (and adults like me who aren’t overly fussy about what they eat) so we’ll have dinner there then head up for an early night.
Day 2: Full day sightseeing & spending money
Chances are we’ll be up early as our bodies won’t be adjusted to UK time. So we’ll go for a walk before breakfast, likely paying the squirrels at St James’s Park a visit. Then it’ll be back to the hotel for an early breakfast – a full English, no less, which I’m really looking forward to seeing Theo attempt to tackle.
It’ll be tempting to make the London Eye the first tourist stop of the day, but I think we’ll look at getting on one of the hop-on, hop-off busses and going for a little ride. The red or blue tour (heading anti-clockwise) with these guys is pretty decent.
Given we’ll probably be at it fairly early, before most things even open, we’ll ride around to the Tower of London stop and go in there, followed by a trip up and over Tower Bridge. Given I’ll be with a kid I expect we’ll have done both those by late-morning or early-afternoon at the latest.
It’ll then be back on the bus (after a bit of lunch) and we’ll head to the ‘heart of town’, which in Theo’s case is Hamleys on Regent Street. After he’s spent all his cash there we’ll walk down to Piccadilly Circus for a look at Eros and a visit to Lillywhites (where, I expect, my Visa will take a mild hammering. Not for the first time).
If we have any time left in the day we’ll look to go for a late-afternoon ride on the London Eye, before heading home for a feed and, maybe, bed.
A Spurs team is scheduled to play at AFC Wimbledon in the superbly named Checkatrade Trophy competition on the evening of our first full day, so we’ll see if we’re up for jumping on the train and heading out west for the evening. Thankfully Waterloo Station is right on our doorstep, so this could be doable…
Day 3: Full day sightseeing
If we didn’t get up the London Eye yesterday then that’ll be our first port of call today. If we did, then it’s on the bus and off to St Paul’s Cathedral for a look around and a hike up 500+ steps for another view of the city.
Once we’re done there we’ll have a short walk to the Millennium Bridge, a footbridge that will take us across to the south side of the Thames. We’ll probably go for a stroll east, past Shakespeare’s Globe, through Southwark (maybe getting some lunch at Borough Market) then on to the HMS Belfast. I haven’t actually been on the Belfast before, so it’ll be cool to do something new and I reckon Theo will be pretty interested.
After that, we’ll use up our bus ticket cruising round the streets and back to the hotel, because…
…the England game at Wembley is scheduled for the night of our second full day, so we’ll be on the tube by late-afternoon to head out there and get some dinner before the game. I can’t wait to see Theo’s face when he sees the arch.
Day 3: we’re done, for now
This trip we have two full days scheduled in London before we head over the Ireland for a few days. The flight will likely be mid-afternoon, so we’ll have a bit of time in the morning for one last wander. That will likely take in a circuit that heads over the Golden Jubilee Bridges, down to Trafalgar Square, through Piccadilly Circus and along Piccadilly to Green Park. We’ll then head south to Buckingham Palace, back along The Mall and through St James’s Park to Westminster Bridge and our hotel.
Then a cab to Paddington and out to the airport.
Part 2: so much more to do
But wait, there’s more.
Having seen Ireland and Northern Ireland, then travelled around southern England (that’s probably another post) in a car for ten days, we’ll be back in London before we jump on the plane home.
London Part 2 sees us with four nights and three – glorious – full days. One of those days, a Saturday, will hopefully be centered around Spurs versus Liverpool at Wembley and I’ll also be looking to see what other games are on in London over the weekend. Lucky Theo.
But we’ll have at least one full day and several part days for more sightseeing. I haven’t really been out east much so I’d like to spend some time this trip checking out Greenwich, Docklands and the Olympic Park area. This looks pretty cool and I’m sure Theo would be up for it.
I’d also like to check off Westminster Abbey (been past it plenty of times but never inside), maybe climb up the Monument for the first time since my first visit to London back in 2000 and maybe even take Theo to a show. Jean and I saw Stomp the last time we were there and I reckon Theo could manage that okay. Boys like loud noises.
I expect we’ll have lots of walking and a bit more shopping at various sports stores and book shops (the massive Waterstone’s just off Piccadilly Circus is a regular stop).
So yeah, heaps to do. I’ll let you know how we get on.