London Diaries, Day 1

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.

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With our bellies full, we walked to Covent Garden.

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It was lovely and festive.

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After looking on at one of the street perfomers, we walked through the Apple Market.

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I tried to buy some tea from Whittard of Chelsea but it was so crowded that I gave up.

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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.

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We weren’t in the mood to shop so we continued to explore the surroundings.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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Next on the list was the iconic Trafalgar Square.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Phew, what a full on day we had! Have you been to London? Did you go to any of the places we visited?

xx


26 thoughts on “London Diaries, Day 1

  1. Ps. I’ve been to London so many times I’ve lost account, topped off with additional overnight visits as a flight attendant, but I can’t remember anything much. It’s too big, I always feel confused! And I can’t even pronounce the tube stops right!!! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How cool to meet up with your childhood friend! 🤗 And staring at phones during a live performance: it reminds me of when we saw Cirque du Soleil in Helsinki and a family of three was in front of us. The parents were on facebook the whole time (!!!) while their toddler sat between them looking at their faces for attention. The tickes were super expensive, I can’t understand why even bother going there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well guess what, the latest Cirque du Soleil show involved phones!!! It was supposed to be interactive for the audience but I just thought it was downright annoying.. If anyone had decided to spend the time on FB there, no-one would’ve noticed!! Crazy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Covent Garden is my all time favorite!
    And thanks for the tip about this wonderful courtyard which I didn’t know either.
    And yes, the British Museum should be on everyone’s list.

    I haven’t been to London for several years now… Last time we accompanied Hubby who had a ticket to see his favourite band – The Foo Fighters. While he was going to the concert, my daughter and I were going to the Harry Potter Studios. Unfortunately the band singer Dave Grohl had broken his arm a couple of days before and the concert got cancelled!

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    1. The courtyard really was a gem, it was so amazing to suddenly be in a peaceful place after Covent Garden’s busy atmosphere.

      What bad luck with the concert, hope he got reimbused for the ticket though. Nevertheless, your daughter must’ve loved the trip for the chance to visit Harry Potter Studios. I haven’t been yet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t go to London just for the Harry Potter experience, but if you have the opportunity, it’s a great place if you’re a fan.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like you had an amazing time exploring London. It’s such a beautiful and photogenic city to explore and photograph. I’ve been to London many times and on each occasion find something new and exciting to see and do. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Aiva, lovely to have you visit my blog! You’re so right, London always has something new to offer. I wish I could visit every year and get to know the city even better. Wishing you a great weekend! ☀️

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I lived in London (near Hyde Park) for many years so know London really well though I now visit infrequently. I shall enjoy reading about the rest of your trip. By the way, another hotel chain similar to Travel Lodge is the Premier Inn.

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    1. Great to know about the Premier Inn, London is so expensive that tips on affordable lodging are very welcome. I would love to live in London one day or visit for a longer time, like a month!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed reading your post – I will check out “The Book of Mormon”. I know you like Malaysian food, so you may care to try Gorpal’s Corner (near Victoria) – very good roti!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aaah, thanks for the tip for the roti, I will definitely check that out next time 🙂 Actually I had many Malaysian restaurants marked on my map but there was no time in the end to visit more than one. I really recommend Book of Mormon, it was hilarious!

      Liked by 1 person

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