My husband is an ardent Tottenham FC fan and dreamed of going to a game in their brand new stadium. A sporting event or concert can be a great starting point for planning a trip and London has been on our list of places to go. Off we go….
After settling in, we headed to Harrods. We were starving and found a great pizzeria in Harrods. Yes, I know it’s weird pizzas and iconic high end shopping, but it was delicious. I found the rest of Harrods slightly overwhelming. It was probably a combination of jet lag and sticker shock or the fact that I’m not the biggest shopper. On to some sightseeing - London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Parliament and The House of Vans (for my skater boys). The House of Vans (https://www.houseofvanslondon.com) offers a summer skate school but you’ll need to make advance reservations. The Tube was easy to navigate but it might have been a good day to jump on one of the double decker bus tours to get our bearings.
We took a short train to Windsor from Paddington Station (40 minutes). We arrived in perfect time for the Changing of the Guards at 11 a.m. The lines for the castle tickets are long so booking in advance will save you time (https://tickets.rct.uk/windsor-castle/windsor-castle/2019). To avoid the lines, we grabbed a quick lunch at The Horse and Groom. They have outside seating and the views can’t be beat. The bartender suggested we do our shopping first since the lines for the castle tend to clear out around 2 pm. Shopping in Windsor was so much fun (ask for tax forms). The prices were not as high and the shopping streets are beautiful. My favorite boutique was Mint Velvet. Windsor Castle is absolutely spectacular and worth the admission fee. Closing time for St. George’s Chapel (where Harry and Meghan got married) is 4 p.m. so visit there first before touring the castle. We ended the day with a cream tea at Madame Posh. I would work this into your schedule while visiting Windsor. The scones with clotted cream were the BEST thing I ate the entire trip.
Tottenham game! The new stadium was absolutely amazing and we’ll definitely be planning our next trip around another game. My husband splurged for really good seats that included a meal and access to The Tunnel Club. The food was outstanding but the service was a bit slow. I think they have a few kinks to work out. While eating our lunch we were able to watch the pre game interviews behind a glass wall. I think we were all a little star struck. The excitement in the stadium is something that any soccer fan should experience. We ended our day with a good curry - a must do in London.
We traveled by train to Bath. You are able to buy train tickets in advance but factor in possible Underground delays getting to the station or take an Uber to be safe. The train to Bath from Paddington station takes a little over 2 hours. Learning from the Windsor mistake, we purchased tickets online in advanced and this saved us time (https://www.romanbaths.co.uk/tickets-prices). The Roman Bath tickets we bought included the Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Museum for only a few extra pounds. The Roman Bath was enjoyed by all and my daughter was entertained by the free scavenger hunt provided. In the courtyard outside of the Bath, we enjoyed listening to some street performers and a delicious pastie. After lunch, we headed to the Fashion Museum. I loved it and it was even tolerable to my teenage boys. We checked out the Bath Abby which is currently undergoing a renovation to heat the floors from the bath. The Thermal Bath Spa ( https://www.thermaebathspa.com) looked really cool and relaxing but we couldn’t go because it was only for ages 16+. The town basically shuts down at 5 pm so we had 2 hours to kill before leaving. We ended up geocaching and had tons of unexpected fun. We relaxed with some wine on the train ride home. I wish we had brought cards…next time.
We slept in a bit and then headed to Borough Market for lunch. It was a gorgeous day so finding a table outside was difficult. We had a fabulous lunch and I could have spent hours but it was our last day so we needed to move. We walked the picturesque Tower Bridge to the Tower of London. We didn’t have time go in because we wanted to make it the The Churchill War rooms (allow 2 hours). This is on my list of favorite museums. It is very interactive and brings history to life. I would book in advance because it books up and it will save time waiting in lines (https://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/churchill-war-rooms). I ended the day lost in Harrods! It was not the best way to end the trip but I’ll be back (probably just to the food court).
Top tips in no particular order:
1. Traveling in summer? Ladies only need white tennis shoes unless you are planning to go somewhere really fancy. I noticed ladies wearing them with everything from jeans to dresses.
2. Bring some change for bathrooms, street performers and extra tips.
3. Leave extra time, tunnel lines can be delayed but trains depart on time. Consider Uber as an easy alternative
4. Buy tickets online or book tours in advance to avoid lines.
5. Kids under 12 ride The Underground for free. Go through the handicapped entrance with a parent. Children under 15 get a reduced rate.
6. Waitstaff expects to take meal order and drinks at the same time. Be prepared.
7. Ask for a tax form while making purchases. You can get part of the taxes back.
8. Pack purchases in a separate bag. You are required to show them when you are collecting your tax refund. You can do this at the airport just past security.
9. Heathrow has a mini Harrods (good gift items) and other high end stores such as Burberry. Wait to make your purchases and you can avoid paying taxes all together!
10. Security is much stricter than in the US. Each passenger is only allowed 1 clear plastic bag with liquids no more than 100 ml. (https://www.heathrow.com/departures/security-and-baggage/hand-baggage-and-liquids)
If you are interested in visiting London, let Wanderlove Travel help you with all of the details.