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Old 09-18-2019, 08:58 PM   #41
Brian5581
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Perhaps not quite up there with the dog sledding, but still a great and unique experience! Continuing to enjoy your report immensely, thanks again for taking the time.
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Old 10-21-2020, 03:15 PM   #42
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Why was the first post deleted????
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Old 10-21-2020, 03:21 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mouseman View Post
Why was the first post deleted????

The OP has gone through and deleted all of their posts on this thread.
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Old 10-21-2020, 03:25 PM   #44
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Quote:
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Why was the first post deleted????
OP deleted all his posts in this thread - they were photo heavy so there may have been a hosting issue.

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Old 11-12-2020, 05:26 PM   #45
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Day 1
“London calling, yes, I was there, too
and ya’ know what they said? Well, some of it was true!”
London Calling- The Clash

So our family is comprised of me, BH, DD (11) and the boy (8) (My BH’s sister and her family would actually join us on the cruise portion). Our first day of the trip was a travel day so I fill in the background.

We flew direct on Virgin Atlantic, they got us there and there was no issue with the flight which is all I ask for an airline.We were lucky we didn’t have to take a red eye, but it did lead us to being on the flight all day with the five-hour time change. Other than traveling and a bit of a scare driving to our hotel, there was not much that happened, I’ll fill in with some background on the trip. (The following posts will be more pic heavy). Our first cruise was on the Wonder to Alaska (trip report here: http://www.mouseowners.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=113360 ) which we absolutely loved and got us interested in cruising. Our second cruise which was the Western Caribbean on the Fantasy which confirmed our initial thought that we preferred staying on a beach resort to cruising. With that, the Iceland and Baltic cruises were the ones that appealed the most to us. We toyed with the idea of trying another cruise line but at the end of the day felt that our kids still appreciated the Disney bubble. However due to some timing issues, we had to wait another year (which I’m glad we did because I think the itinerary was better with an extra Iceland stop and extra cruise day).

We were excited for this cruise since other than England these were all new to us places for me and BH. We figured this cruise would be the most similar to Alaska (which it was and wasn’t as I’ll get into later). Since our kids had never been to England and the boy is de facto British (favorite sport- English football/soccer favorite food- fish and chips) we decided to add on a few days in London England. My daughter is also a Broadway fanatic so a trip to the West End was also a must. Before we had left, I had bought tickets to some of the attractions we were planning to see and bought pre-paid transport cards for the underground. Originally, I had planned to get a London Pass, I found that most attractions offered a family rate which wound up cheaper than it would have cost had we gotten the London pass.

We booked the Waldorf Hilton London which I can say was fantastic. We booked it well in advance and got a good deal on a 1-bedroom suite with access to the executive lounge. After we booked it, we found out that Adventures By Disney uses the same hotel for their pre-cruise tour. The ABD London package was nearly four times what we paid (and only was a regular room rather than a 1 bedroom). In fairness, they did have two dinners included and also included several sites we planned on visiting. ABD also offered a private viewing of the crown jewels at the tower of London. But as a native New Yorker, I am immediately skeptical whenever someone offers me a private viewing of the “crown jewels” and have learned that its best to decline. Regardless, even with factoring in the extras, it just confirmed to me that ABD’s prices are insane.

After getting our bags, we used Blackberry cars to get to our hotel. I will say our driver has a future as a New York City cab driver as he cut off a few people on some roundabouts and had us generally fearing for our lives. Just a few blocks from the hotel, we saw a tour bus try to get by a narrow city street where a smart car was parked on the corner. I always imagined how a smart car would fair when being hit by a bus and it went about as how I would expect. Luckily the car was parked and no one was inside. Our driver was incredulous the bus driver would try to make the turn. BH was incredulous our driver was so upset when he was completely indifferent to our safety up to this point driving through London.

Suffice it to say, we were happy to get to the hotel. After getting to our hotel, the boy couldn’t stop commenting on the one thing he liked most about the room- a bathroom with a TV. He would petition us during the rest of our stay that we should add one to the bathroom at home (NOT GOING TO HAPPEN). DD like the hotel since it was in the west end and next to the theater where Momma Mia was performed. We took a brief visit to the club room to get some drinks and called it a night as it was 10:30 England time and we wanted to get acclimated to the time change (which I don’t think happened for anyone). Tomorrow would start our more touristy visits to some London landmarks. We also planned to eat dinner at one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants.

Next Up: Our first full day in London.
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Old 11-12-2020, 05:27 PM   #46
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Day 2- Part 1:

“I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain”
Warren Zevon Werewolves of London

Well we didn’t see any werewolves in London but starting with our first day in London we did see quite a bit of rain. They say that in New England if you don’t like he weather, wait a few hours. Apparently in London you only have to wait a few minutes. One hour it would rain, the next it would be sunny, the next cool, the next hot, then rainy again. It basically went back and forth like that over all three days we were in London.

After breakfast at our hotel (which was very good for a hotel breakfast which based on past UK experience is a bit of an anomaly), our first stop was the Tower of London. Me and BH had both been there before but we thought our kids would be entertained. Who doesn’t like to hear stories about beheadings and torture? Our hotel was pretty centrally located, and the tower was only a few stops on the tube. We got there a bit after it opened and took in some views of tower bridge before we went into the tower.





A gloomy London morning looking out towards the Shard:



First we headed to see the crown jewels before it became busy (which it did). However, no pictures were allowed so:

PHOTOS BANNED BY THE QUEEN BECAUSE SHE DOES NOT WANT YOU TO SEE HER CROWN JEWELS

Obligatory guard photo:


After seeing the crown jewels, we waited for a beefeater tour.

pic uploader

If you’ve never been to the tower, I would highly recommend the beefeater tour as they are very entertaining and love to tell stories regarding the beheadings and other stories about the Tower. DD and the Boy were enthralled by the story of Queen Catherine Howard who cheated on Henry the VIII with a certain Mr. Culpepper and on her death declared that she would rather die as “Mr Culpeper’s wife then as Queen.”. The beefeater told us that after she made such statement, the guards grabbed Mr. Culpeper who was in the crowd and beheaded him as well (for the ultimate Simpson’s D’oh moment). While it appear he may have embellished the story, it did keep my kids attention. Regardless, the kids were very excited to see the “Bloody Tower” and torture exhibit.


The rack (sometimes I wish I had one in the house):



The White Tower is the main tower which has most of the exhibits. They are guarded by some ravens. Nevermore.




We also visited the main white tower which had some interesting exhibits.








Reminds me of my grad school days:



Not sure what the steampunk dragon has to with anything- maybe the dragon from the Festival of Fantasy parade is being repaired here?




The tower is touristy and crowded but it is somewhat unique. The kids liked the tower but they would actually prefer another castle later on in our visit. Next Up part 2- Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms and dinner at the Savoy Grill.
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Old 11-12-2020, 05:28 PM   #47
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London Day 1 Part 2
After leaving the tower and took some obligatory London phonebooth shots:





We weren’t super hungry for lunch but decided to be British for the day and head back to our hotel for some afternoon tea. The hotel had put out some finger sandwiches and cakes with tea and soft drinks which was enough to tide us over until dinner. Again, I can’t say anything bad about our hotel.

Our next stop was Westminster Abbey where I had pre-bought tickets. Westminster Abbey like the crown jewels didn’t allow photos. The abbey was interesting. I had been to St. Paul’s before but not the abbey. I think the kids may have enjoyed St. Paul’s with its crypt but they enjoyed it enough.





We did visit the jubilee gallery at the abbey which is located in the tower and had some interesting historical exhibits. It was worth the small add on price if nothing else it was a respite from the crowds of the abbey.

We then walked a few blocks to the Churchill War Rooms which we had prepaid tickets. We were really excited to go to the war rooms as neither me or BH had ever been but to be honest it was kind of a let down. The rooms were very crowded and it kind of just looked like cramped office rooms in a basement with most of the rooms behind glass. Since we were on our feet most of the day, maybe we were just getting tired but in retrospect we would have probably enjoyed doing something else.

Churchill's desk:







The accompanying Winston Churchill museum wasn't bad though.



After the war rooms it was time for dinner. I had booked a reservation at the Savoy Grill which is one of Gordon Ramsey’s restaurants located in the Savoy Hotel (way too swanky for us). I told the kids before dinner that they needed to get their craziness out because if they acted crazy in the restaurant, the chef would come out and yell at them. (They didn’t need to know that Gordon Ramsey is barely ever there). The kids have recently started watching Masterchef and apparently Bro thought everyone on the show was in the restaurant by pointing at a bald guy and asking me if he was on Masterchef.

The menu contained of what you would expect (beef wellington, fish, steak, etc.) The food was good and it was nice to have a fancy dinner before the cruise but frankly I’ve had better meals and I dare say we had a better meal in Copenhagen. Given the price point we were a bit disappointed. I was also secretly disappointed that I didn’t see a plate of risotto go flying. While I wouldn’t say it was bad, for the price I anticipated it to be a little better.

Since we all were still acclimating to London time, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.

Next Up- London Day 2 Pre-Cruise a tour of London and some sport.


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Old 11-12-2020, 05:28 PM   #48
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London Day 2-Part 1
"I don’t want to go to Chelsea
Oh no, it does not move me”

I don’t want to go to Chelsea-Elvis Costello

As I’ve said before, the boy is secretly British. He’s more likely to know the centerback for Man United then the cornerback of the New York Giants. His favorite team is Tottenham and one of the things that was a must do was to go to one of England's football stadiums. Since it was still summer break and there were no scheduled games, our only option was a stadium tour. However, as Tottenham’s new stadium just opened they were not running tours. Also, since the new Tottenham stadium was built to be more akin to recent state of the art US stadiums (it was built in part to hold NFL London games), I thought it made sense to visit an older stadium with a bit of history. Stamford Bridge where Chelsea plays wasn’t too far and fit the bill. If someone from England asked me which baseball stadium in the northeast they should visit. The new Yankee Stadium while nice just doesn’t have the charm of the od stadium (absent the Yankee memorabilia) and it is not so distinct from other new stadiums. It pains me to say it, but I’d probably have to recommend Fenway. (Now the old Yankee stadium vs. Fenway- that’s not even a debate- forgetaboutit).

So it was off to Chelsea for a stadium tour while BH and DD went to the
V & A museum. Like the War Rooms and Westminster Abbey, the tour came with an audio guide that told you where to go and what you were seeing. It also had videos that showed famous moments in Chelsea football history and history about the stadium. Apparently, they had just changed the tour from the traditional tour with a guide (although they would have guides along the route in case of questions). My son seriously loved this and I underestimated how long we would spend at Stamford Bridge.

As we woke up it looked like it would rain but it held off until we got inside. Outside the grounds:







Peter Osgood statute:




Prior to the tour, we visited the museum:




The trophy case:



Stamford Bridge model:

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Old 11-12-2020, 05:29 PM   #49
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London Day 2 Part 2

The tour itself was pretty comprehensive and there was not a lot off limits.



Press room:



Away dressing room:




Home dressing room (the Boy couldn't be bothered to take off the headphones):



Totally missing an opportunity by not hanging a Pulisic jersey in the dressing room:



Walking through the player's tunnel to the pitch:



On the pitch:

photo url

Best bench seats he (or I) ever sat on:



Although the weather held off, as we were just about to leave, the rains came. Even with the rain, I enjoyed the stadium tour and I can see the boy really liked it. It was easily his favorite thing we did in London. After going to the football stadium, we continued being British by going to lunch at a chippie. The best part of it was that they also had gluten free fish and chips. Bro loved it and declared it his best meal in England (take that Gordon).
Meanwhile BH and DD were enjoying the V & A museu (DD would probably choose to do anything other than go to a football stadium but this was much more their style).


Up next: A bus tour of London.
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Old 11-12-2020, 05:30 PM   #50
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London Day 2- Part 3

After lunch, we met back up with BH and DD. When we had planned London, the kids wanted to go on a double decker bus. Although it was raining pretty hard, by the time we had met up the rain was tapering off. I’m not a huge fan of the commercial bus tours but since London is so huge and everyone wanted to get off their feet, we hopped on a Big Bus. Luckily there was a stop right next to our hotel which was convenient. We had to wait for a seat on the top level and frankly the bottom level was hot and miserable. Luckily, the top cleared up at the next stop and we went up there. If we were stuck on the bottom much longer, we would have probably nixed it. The ride lasted over two hours and was narrated by a live guide. The first guide we had was pretty good but about halfway through they switched guides. The second guide was terrible and it really started to drag. At the end of the day, the bus was not my favorite thing, but DD liked it and it did get us off our feet. So without further ado, a few pictures from a gloomy London day:

More Tower Bridge (with the HMS Belfast):




More from the River Thames:






The London Eye:



Some traditional British Pubs:






Big Ben is undergoing renovations so its not exactly photogenic:



Scenes from near the monument:

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[url=https://postimages.org/]


Where the 1% stays:



The plan was to go to the British museum which had evening hours but everyone was still jet lagged and tired so we decided just to go to dinner and call it a night. I totally regret going on the bus tour instead of the British Museum.

We happened upon a local Thai restaurant Thai Pot in Covent Garden which was low key. The food was good and everyone enjoyed their meals. The Boy ordered spicy fish and the female owner was smitten that he had eaten up all of his fish. As we left she actually gave him a big hug for eating all of his fish which he hated. I really wish I would have gotten a picture of that.

We then walked around Covent Gardens before heading back to the hotel. The area was pretty at night and the nightlife was kicking in. If it was just me and BH, we may have stayed out a bit later.





Next up- our last day in London before the cruise with a visit to Buckingham Palace, the West End and one of several idiotic things we had planned- riding the world’s tallest and longest slide. Then on to the cruise!
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