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Old 08-11-2016   #1 (permalink)
aņejo
 
horizon200's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Delaware
Posts: 14,695
35 Anniversary Trip to London

This trip was taken for our 35th anniversary. My wife loves all things Tudor and in particular Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn. So, the applicable sites were a must. We stayed Thurs to Wed (28 July to 3 Aug) at The Grosvenor Victoria.

Pics are in no particular order but are sorted by location.

Pre-departure:
We picked up several items that came in very handy.
-An adapter for our electrical items as well as a converter for my wife's travel hair rollers. The rest of the electrical items automatically converted power.
-A couple of rain ponchos
-Luggage scale Wife's case came in at 45 pounds!

Departure Day:
We flew out of Philadelphia on Delta direct to Heathrow. Philly's airport parking is a mess. So, I made reservations at SmartPark. I use them whenever I fly out of there. $65 for the week and prompt van service.

The Democratic National Convention was in full swing the week we left. So, I left plenty of time for traffic jams. Don't you know we made it in record time! So, a sandwich and people watching for a few hrs. All good. Flight was uneventful and we arrived Heathrow at 0640 after a 6.5 Hr flight.

Arrival:
Passport control was the first hurdle. There must have been an Airbus A380 land just before us!! We waited 1.5 hrs in line there! I had booked Blackberry cars and the driver was waiting on us, even though we were running late! Smooth drive into London and the driver was very polite.

Day 1:
The Grosvenor hotel...WOW!! Beautiful place! Since we had arrived so early, our rooms were not ready. But, the staff stowed our bags for us and helped set up a Big Bus hop on hop off tour. This is a great first day activity as you are pretty jet lagged and it gives you a chance to just sit and get oriented. I would recommend though to use other than Big Bus. The reps they had on the street were less than helpful and there never seemed to be a "red route" bus headed our way. The red route has the live guide instead of a recording. We were eventually guided to take the blue route a few stops and pick up the red route. Not so much! Probably 4 busses came buy but no red route. Eventually, we got it sorted and were on our way. We took the bus all the way thru town to Tower Hill and the guide did do a great job of pointing out key sites and strange but true facts as well. At this point, we got off the bus and took the Thames Cruise back toward Big Ben. The cruise is part of the tour fare. We then picked up the tour bus again and took it back to the hotel. By now, it was 3:00 and the rooms were ready.

The rooms was larger than expected, but still smaller than the average hotel in the states. Very comfy bed. One nagging bit is that the toilet was very slow to refill. So, consecutive use could be problematic!

Also, we forgot to pack an extension cord for my wife's CPAP machine. This meant switching sides of the bed. Not a big deal. But, after 35 yrs of marriage, you get used to certain habits...my side of the bed being one of them!

The first night, we decide to just have dinner in the hotel. A nice steak and ale pie with a pint then off to bed.

Pics:

Day 1 Hotel and Around London

Day 2:
Breakfast was included with our stay and the Grosvenor did a great job laying out a full hot buffet.

Since we were so close to Buckingham Palace, we started there for changing of the guards. We were told to be there by 1020. In place with bells on only to find out the ceremony doesn't start until 1130! My wife was impatient to get to The a Tower of London so, off we went and I missed the change.

From Victoria, we took the District Line to Tower Hill. Easy ride and very quick. I should mention that we bought the 7 day travel card in Victoria station for zones 1&2. Super easy way with no worry of topping off the card or checking balances. Could we have maybe saved a few pounds going Oyster? Maybe. But, the convenience outweighed it for us.

The Tower. We got there about noon and ended up closing it! If you're into this type of history, plan 4-5 hrs! Our Beefeater guide, Steve, was hilarious! But, also, very informative. We ended up eating a late lunch in the cafe there. We should have just had coffee and a sponge. The food was not very good.

Pics

Day 2 Tower of London

Day 3:

This was a day for us to travel out to Ipswich to see some of my family. My mother was British and her side of the family reside in Woodbridge and Melton. So, we took a train from Victoria to Clapham Junction on the travel card. From there, we bought two tickets with return to Ipswich. My cousin picked us up and we drove into Woodbridge to see where my parents met at The Cross pub as well as some of the key family sights. It was a wonderful visit full of up and down emotions as my aunt and uncle are aging no matter how much I try to remember them from my younger years.

When we arrived back into Victoria, we ventured out to the Bag o Nails pub for dinner.

Pics

Day 3 Woodbridge and Family

Day 4: Hampton Court

ANYONE interested in Henry VII simply must take this tour! One of the best points of our vacation! We took the train again to Clapham Junction and bought two tickets to Hampton Court. Exiting the train, if you're using an Oyster, tap out. Otherwise just walk through. No machines to scan travel cards/tickets. The palace is a short walk over the bridge. We had pre bought tickets (again through the hotel). So, we went to the ticket collection window. You are given an audio device to listen to as you walk around. One of the first stops is the Great Hall. It will take your breath away! In fact, the entire palace will! Amazing tour! A couple of little known facts that my wife was up on. When Anne fell out of grace, Henry had all of her badges removed. But he missed one and it remains in the great hall...see if you can find it. Look up to the rafters and see if you can spy the "eavesdroppers".

Again, this is a full day tour. So, plan accordingly!

Pics:

Day 4 Hampton Court Palace

Day 5: Hever Castle

This is a great tour to get out of the city for the majority of the day. It is the child hood home of Anne Boleyn.

We took the train to Clapham Junction, then to East Croydon and then another to Hever rail station. It show,d be noted that Hever is pretty out of the way. So trains there run every hour rather than every ten to fifteen minutes. Plan for such.

When you arrive at Hever station, the castle is about a twenty minute walk. There is no taxi or bus service and some of the walk is uphill. If you can't walk it, I recommend making other transport arrangements. The walk thru the country side was very nice though and there are some quaint cottages along the way for photo ops.

The castle is much smaller than I expected. But, the great thing is so many furnishings are still in place. It does get crowded and there are a couple of tight winding stair cases if you have mobility issues.

We stopped at the Henry VIII pub just outside of the gates for lunch. You could tell you were out if London as fare was half as much!

The train station is unattended. But, the automated signs are just down the platform. Oh, and there are no toilets! Go at the castle!

Upon arrival back to the hotel, we had Afternoon Tea. I had a very good Cafe Americano. But, my wife's teas was Luke warm and she had to ask for another. The finger sandwiches were not something I'd normally eat(cucumber and butter or salmon). So, I came away hungry.

That evening, we took a red bus around town just to see more of London.

Pics:

Day 5 Hever Castle


Day 6: Buckingham and Windsor..

Again, being so close, we walked to Buckingham. Finally a chance to see the changing of the guards. We queued up to buy tickets and found out the changing happens every OTHER day in Aug..and this was an odd day!! So, we took the tour instead. Security before entering was very tight as you could imagine. Our passport holder are RFID blocking so that gave their equipment some issues. But, soon passed thru. They have a bag check that makes it a little easier to take the tour.

The palace is quite beautiful. But no photography inside. They have the Queens clothing on display currently. So, my wife really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun walking around where state dinners are held and imagining all the power brokers that have been there.

From there, we had bought the Golden Tours "Simply Windsor" bus tour. We walked to the Victoria Coach Station and were escorted to our coach. The driver gave a running commentary enroute to Windsor and then facilitates your entry to the castle. We arrived bed in the afternoon so my wife's first stop was to see Henry's burial place. When you enter St Georges chapel, make your way to the choir. He us buried in the aisle of the chapel. My wife asked one of the guides a question and the guide took her to the nave where Henry and in fact all the Monarchs to include the Queen, sit for mass. She even opened it and let my wife sit there! It almost brought her to tears! She then let her sit in the seat Henry sat in before he was king and pointed out his cost of arms. This was the highlight of my wife's trip!

Pics:

Day 6 Windsor Castle

Departure day:

Again Blackberry cars was spot on and picked us up at 0645. We had a 1035 flight out so with traffic we wanted to make sure we were there on time. Little to no traffic and once again made record time! Security at Heathrow is much more robust than stateside airports it seems. But, it was laid out very logically.

Uneventful flight home and SmartPark was there to great us.

Wrap up:

A week isn't long enough! We missed Westminister and a few other sites.

We probably could have saved more money. But opted for convenience.

The Grosvenor was fantastic and centrally located.

Can't wait to make another trip!

Any questions, ask away
__________________
Mike & Sandy

"You have your own life memorized- stop and listen to what others have to say."....Anon


"Arguing with a pilot is like wrestling with a pig in the mud, after a while you begin to think the pig likes it."--Anon
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Old 08-11-2016   #2 (permalink)
aņejo
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 5,351
Very nicely done trip report - never seen a better one! But you're holding your fork wrong (ask Stogey how it's done). And where's your knife (so you can herd the food onto your fork)? And no ketchup on the chips (but I can smell the vinaigre). And where's the golf cart for getting around the palace grounds? (They should build a replica in Cozumel - they've already got the golf carts.)

Frankly, I don't know how you did it. How're your poor feet? I get 'Museum Feet' and 'Cathedral Neck' just looking at the pics/

I spent 6 lovely months in Canterbury, Portsmouth, and London (tubed easily almost everywhere, and walked easily, too - it's a great walking town) while in medical school. Fond memories. Thanks for the reminders! (There is no better-tasting beer (bitters) than British beer - slightly under-carbonated just right with a creamy head to match, and how do they get that wonderful taste? I don't know - Michael Courage visited my brewery in Calif, but wouldn't tell me the secret. So I'll just have to keep drinking it till I can puzzle it out.)

Nice post, Mike. Glad you had a good time. (if you're looking for an interesting veddy British-based changing of the guard (cheerleaders and all), try this: (sorry, for some reason they are all now 'locked' - try the link itself)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON-6vyQugw4

Last edited by beam-eye; 08-11-2016 at 11:27 AM..
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Old 08-11-2016   #3 (permalink)
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Delaware
Posts: 14,695
Quote:
Originally Posted by beam-eye View Post
Very nicely done trip report - never seen a better one! But you're holding your fork wrong (ask Stogey how it's done). And where's your knife (so you can herd the food onto your fork)? And no ketchup on the chips (but I can smell the vinaigre). And where's the golf cart for getting around the palace grounds? (They should build a replica in Cozumel - they've already got the golf carts.)

Frankly, I don't know how you did it. How're your poor feet? I get 'Museum Feet' and 'Cathedral Neck' just looking at the pics/

I spent 6 lovely months in Canterbury, Portsmouth, and London (tubed easily almost everywhere, and walked easily, too - it's a great walking town) while in medical school. Fond memories. Thanks for the reminders! (There is no better-tasting beer (bitters) than British beer - slightly under-carbonated just right with a creamy head to match, and how do they get that wonderful taste? I don't know - Michael Courage visited my brewery in Calif, but wouldn't tell me the secret. So I'll just have to keep drinking it till I can puzzle it out.)

Nice post, Mike. Glad you had a good time. (if you're looking for an interesting veddy British-based changing of the guard (cheerleaders and all), try this: (sorry, for some reason they are all now 'locked' - try the link itself)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON-6vyQugw4
I did find myself using the fork and knife as they do. My wife even asked "When did you start eating like that?"

As for my feet...we must have walked a brazillian miles! Well that's what my feet were telling me! And toting that backpack...well.
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Old 08-11-2016   #4 (permalink)
life=playa
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
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Wow that is a lot of photos. I could spend all morning watching the slide show but I better not. Hampton Court is one of the most interesting historical sites I have ever been to. I remember looking at a portrait there of Ferdinand II, the father of Catherine of Aragon when a guide walked up and started telling us all about Catherine's parents. Apparently her mother only took a bath once in her life and Ferdinand is thought by modern historians to have had Down's Syndrome. Looking closely at his portrait you could see that this might have been the case.

Anyway I am glad you enjoyed London. I love that city. I even love the Steak and Ale pie served at Taylor Walker pubs, which I saw in one of your photos. And Nandos, the fast foot places that serve Peri Peri chicken which are every where in England which I didn't see. Since you can't swing a dead cat in London without hitting a Nandos I am sure there is one in the background of at least one of your photos though. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-12-2016   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenneth121 View Post
Wow that is a lot of photos. I could spend all morning watching the slide show but I better not. Hampton Court is one of the most interesting historical sites I have ever been to. I remember looking at a portrait there of Ferdinand II, the father of Catherine of Aragon when a guide walked up and started telling us all about Catherine's parents. Apparently her mother only took a bath once in her life and Ferdinand is thought by modern historians to have had Down's Syndrome. Looking closely at his portrait you could see that this might have been the case.

Anyway I am glad you enjoyed London. I love that city. I even love the Steak and Ale pie served at Taylor Walker pubs, which I saw in one of your photos. And Nandos, the fast foot places that serve Peri Peri chicken which are every where in England which I didn't see. Since you can't swing a dead cat in London without hitting a Nandos I am sure there is one in the background of at least one of your photos though. Thanks for sharing.
Hampton Court was by far our favorite day. Absolutely awe inspiring!

We saw several Nandos. But, did not eat at one. The steak and ale pies were great. We actually preferred the one in the hotel restaurant over the Taylor and Walker...less "ale" taste. But, the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding Sunday Roast dinner at the Shakespeare was reminiscent of my mother's Sunday dinners. Delicious!
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Old 08-15-2016   #6 (permalink)
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Great trip report and awesome slide shows! Looks like a fantastic trip Mike.
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Old 08-15-2016   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you for sharing your great trip! I love London. Now I really want to go back!!!
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