Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1762: The Bucket List Trip
By Bob from Boston from Massachusetts, Spring 2009
Trip Description: Four of us (Bob, Anne, Rob, & Paula) leave Boston late in the day on Memorial Day for an adventure to London, Southwest England, Normandy, and Northern Italy. Although it will not be a real "slow" trip it will be a trip of a lifetime.
Destinations: Countries - France, Italy, United Kingdom; Regions/Cities - Normandy, Lake Region, Piemonte, Bath, London, West Country
Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Day Tours; Foodie Trip; Sightseeing; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; 3-4 people
Page 1 of 7: Boston to London
London from the Top of the Eye
Four of us (Bob, Anne, Rob, & Paula) leave Boston late in the day on Memorial Day for an adventure to London, Southwest England, Normandy, and Northern Italy. Although it will not be a real slow trip it will be a trip of a lifetime. This is a trip that Bob has wanted to take for many years, primarily because he has done significant research of his family who originated in Stokenham, England and he is curious to see the land of his ancestors. Secondly, he has always had a calling to see the WWII Normandy beaches, where his father fought in D-Day. We have arranged our schedule so that we can be at Omaha Beach for the 65th Observance of D-Day.
Our friends, Rob and Paula, have come along with us. They have decided to take side trips to Liverpool and Paris after London while Anne and Bob are in Southwest England and then reunite in Normandy for the D-Day Observance.
The flight goes well and we land at Heathrow at 7am on Tuesday. We take the train into London, which takes only 45 minutes. We purchase a three day London transit pass (£18.00 for each pass plus tax)and take a bus towards Victoria Station where we find our B&B Luna Simone. They have Paula and Rob's reservation, but they don't have Anne and Bob's. Luckily, Anne and Bob end up finding a room next door in another B&B called the Victor Hotel (£65). The accommodations are simple but clean and it is a good location on Belgrave Road not far from Victoria Station. The bus stop is directly across the street from our B&B. Through our experiences of traveling in Europe we have learned that public transportation is superior to the United States, but nothing so far has been as pleasurable as the public transportation in London. Don't fret if you miss the bus, it seems to show up every five minutes. Same with the Tube (underground), which seems to show up frequently as well and gets you where you want to go rapidly.
The first day is packed with walking and sightseeing. But we need sustenance first. We lunch on fish and chips from a neighborhood restaurant called Seafresh on Wilton Road towards Victoria Station. The seafood is very good and worth the effort, it gives us new energy and we are on our way. The four of us hop on the double decker bus and take it to Trafalgar Square. We visit the National Gallery and then walk past Sherlock Holmes' Museum to the bridge. We cross the Thames where we take a spin on the London Eye (£17). The views from atop the Eye are fabulous and so far the weather is a little cool but not raining. We then take a river boat cruise along the Thames to see the sites (£10). The overnight flight has finally caught up with us so we take a bus back towards our B&B. We find a Pub and decide to try more fish n'chips (excellent), and learn about banoffee pie (banana and toffee) but we do not try it. We go back to the B&B and collapse until the next morning.
Wednesday we get an early start and are greeted by the famous British rain showers. We are undaunted and take the DD bus to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben and then the Tube over to Buckingham Palace. There is not much activity except for us tourists and it is now raining pretty steadily. After a short time we decide that since Paula is a HUGE (and I mean Big) Beatles fan we take the Tube to Abbey Road.
Abbey Road is in a very nice residential area in St. John's Wood and the Abbey Road Recording Studio still exists but may now be owned by someone other than the Beatles. We take pictures of ourselves walking on the famous crosswalk and sign the "graffiti wall" outside Abbey Road Studios. While standing outside, we wonder how much musical history had been made inside the studio.
We move onward and take the Tube a couple of stops to go to the Beatles Memorbilia Store, then on to New Bond Street in Mayfair where Rob tries without success to connect with a mysterious business client. After having fish & chips we need something different so we try Il Pizzaiolo, an Italian Restaurant nearby for lunch. We had read that in London to find non traditional English food you should seek out foods from outside England, such as Italian, Indian etc. This restaurant is owned by an Italian family that has relocated to London. The food is traditional, reasonable and very good and work out for us.
We then take separate excursions: Anne and Bob to the British Museum and Paula and Rob to the Madame Tussaud Wax Museum. The British Museum has extensive displays of artifacts from ancient Egypt and Greece that were very impressive. We found that England Museums do not charge for admission whereas the churches do charge for admission such as Westminster Abbey. In Italy it is the opposite for admission charges. That night as Paula and Rob call it an early night, Anne and Bob decide to check out Chinatown, Soho and the West End, which are all along the DD bus line and easy to get to. The area is buzzing and we enjoy the atmosphere while at the same time getting ideas for the day ahead.
On Thursday, Anne and Bob show Rob and Paula their finds from the night before and we all purchase half price tickets (£38) to see "Jersey Boys" for that night, which was less expensive and a better performance compared to the Boston later in the summer.
We have lunch in the theatre district, stroll past all the music shops and Chinatown. Anne and Paula then decide they NEED to go to Harrods for shopping, but Bob and Rob sense that they NEED to do something else. So they opt for the Imperial War Museum instead. So they split up and decide to meet back at the hotels later.
The Imperial War Museum was easy to get to by the Tube and it is a worthy visit. As we are walking to the museum we notice a small brownstone that was once the home of William Bligh, Captain of the "Mutiny on the Bounty", which makes for an interesting conversation. The Imperial War Museum is so large it has actual WWII War planes hanging from the ceiling, as well as tanks and other military memorabilia.
That evening we eat in the theatre district and see the musical "Jersey Boys" which we all enjoyed. It was a great way to spend our last evening in London.
Friday morning Anne and Bob set off by bus from Victoria Station to Bath and Southwest England. The National Express bus to Bath was £38 per person, which was less than the train and took about the same amount of time. Paula and Rob take a train to Liverpool then Paris. We will all reunite in Normandy in five days.
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