My son and I visited London in December 2019. It was his first time in the city, so we toured some of the usual tourist spots but managed to fit in meet-ups with friends and some unexpected experiences as well. You’ll be astonished how much we managed in just for days.
The day started with a 5 am wake-up and a mad rush to the airport, which is unfortunately very typical for our family. There’s always a stressful moment when we wonder if we will make our flight. This time it happened when only a handful of the passport scanning machines worked and we had to try several before getting through. By the time we got to our gate, they were already boarding. Our flight was on Finnair and I was surprised to board an Airbus A350-900, a carrier often seen on long-haul flights. Apparently they have been flying the Airbus to London for two years!
We stayed at the Travelodge London Farringdon which was an excellent choice and I can easily recommend it to all. It was a an affordable option, the location was great (a brisk 10 minute walk to King’s Cross station plus a bus stop right in front of the lodge), it was quiet, very clean, the beds were comfy and the breakfast had enough choices for us to keep our hunger at bay till lunch. I wouldn’t have known of of the Travelodge chain if Marion hadn’t written about it in her blog, so kudos for that! Next time I go to London, I will stay in the same place or try another Travelodge in a different location. It’s also easy to get to and fro the Heathrow airport, as you can take the Piccadilly line to Kings Cross St Pancras or Russell Square Station and walk from there.
As I’d got us Oyster cards in good time before our trip, we were able to proceed straight for the Piccadilly line after a friendly staff member changed my son’s card to a children’s one (you have to do this for under 16 year olds, so you’re charged the reduced price). We traveled to Russell Square (it took almost an hour) and walked from there to the Travelodge. For an extra fee of 10 pounds we got our room straight away. As I knew we’d be out and about the whole day and get back late, I anticipated we’d be happy that we could go straight up to our room without having to deal with any formalities (my hunch was right).
After taking a (very) short rest, we got some cappuccinos from the nearby Costa Coffee to wake us up and walked to my son’s restaurant of choice – Five Guys. We tried Five Guys in Miami and it tasted quite good, so I was up for it. The restaurant was super busy and seemed to be really popular but can’t say we were impressed. We now have a few burger joints in Finland which make fresh burgers from quality ingredients (for example Friends & Brgrs), so this kind of fast food isn’t so special anymore. Also, I was shocked to see the amount of trash our order created. In addition, I felt that the price was quite astounding for burgers and fries.
With our bellies full, we walked to Covent Garden.
It was lovely and festive.
After looking on at one of the street perfomers, we walked through the Apple Market.
I tried to buy some tea from Whittard of Chelsea but it was so crowded that I gave up.
Instead we got a cookie to share from Ben’s Cookies. I’m not really a fan of cookies but this one was chewy and very chocolatey.
We weren’t in the mood to shop so we continued to explore the surroundings.
Suddenly we found ourselves transported out of the hustle and bustle into the quiet St. Paul’s Church courtyard. Did you know of it’s existence?
I certainly didn’t! It would be the perfect spot for a quiet lunch or a romantic date. Actually the garden and benches reminded me of a setting in the movie Last Christmas – if you’ve seen it, I’m sure you know which scenes I’m referring to!
We wandered a bit further to see the Sundial Pillar of Seven Dials. The pillar is a reconstruction of the original which was laid out in early 1690s. It would have been fun to explore the seven streets full of shops and restaurants but as we had other places to see, we moved on.
Next on the list was the iconic Trafalgar Square.
It’s always fun to watch people hanging out by the square. In addition, for the first time ever, there was a Christmas market there too.
We then proceeded past the National Gallery (one of my fave museums, but alas, no time) to Chinatown, walking past the huge M&M’s World. I remember being in London with my daughter eons ago when she was the same age as my son and she was quite excited about the store. How times change – my son had no interest in it, he only gave it an unimpressed glance when I pointed it out.
After soaking in the Chinatown atmosphere, we went around to corner to the Prince of Wales theatre where our tickets for The Book of Mormon were waiting.
Oh and what a musical it was! I can’t believe how good our seats were even though they were in the cheaper section. The show made us laugh so much and the music was fantastic. Even my son who claimed not to like musicals was really into it. The only annoyance was that there aren’t enough ladies toilets, so it’s best to rush to the queue straight away during intermission. Two girls sitting next to us started looking at their phones in the middle of the show (which I cannot understand!) and during the break we heard of the London Bridge attack, so they must’ve been getting texts about that. Nevertheless, if you are on your way to London, make a point of going to see Book of Mormon, I promise you won’t regret it.
Right after the show my childhood friend from Malaysia came to meet us with her baby for dinner. Her husband joined us at the C&R in Chinatown for some Malaysian fare. We ordered a bunch of dishes to share. It was my son’s first time tasting most of the dishes and he enjoyed them too. We had a lovely catchup together and heard that the family will be moving to Singapore after the New Year. Perhaps we will meet again there soon!
We parted ways as unfortunately it was the baby’s bedtime and we still had places to see. We walked through the Christmas Market at Leicester Square towards the British Museum. The market had beautiful lights that really got us into the Christmas cheer.
The British Museum was on top of my son’s list of things to see. On Fridays the museum is open longer which suited our timetable very well and as an additional bonus, there were no queues to get in.
The museum is huge but we managed to cover quite a bit, going floor to floor. It’s amazing how many historical artefacts the museum holds from around the world. After a few hours, we jumped on a double decker bus and made our way back to our comfy beds at the Travelodge.
Phew, what a full on day we had! Have you been to London? Did you go to any of the places we visited?