Christmas in London

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December 26th 2014
Published: January 5th 2015
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Monday morning, we woke up and finished our last minute packing and got breakfast at the hotel before heading to Glasgow Central to depart for London. The train station was great about helping us get mom to the train along with our luggage. We boarded the train, which was incredibly nice as we had booked first class tickets. We had wifi, outlets, two meals, snacks, wine and chocolate all included with our tickets. The train ride was very pleasant, and before we knew it, we had arrived in London. We took a taxi to our hotel and were able to check into our hotel. We then ventured down the street to the Whiteleys mall which was a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. After checking out the stores, we saw the latest Night at the Museum movie, which was very exciting since it happened to be mostly set in London. We then got dinner at the mall before heading back to finish getting settled into the hotel.

The next day, we had a full day tour of the city planned. We boarded the bus from Victoria Coach station and met our guide who would be with us for the day. The tour started out driving around key parts of London. We stopped briefly at the houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey and then again at Buckingham Palace. It was very helpful; when we were stopped and walking around, we each had radio headsets so that we were able to hear the commentary of the guide clearly and loudly. At the houses of Parliament, we enjoyed seeing the Elizabeth Tower (commonly referred to as Big Ben), and at Buckingham Palace, we enjoyed seeing the cavalry coming down the street past the palace. We boarded the bus again and drove around more parts of London, until we reached our lunch stop at Trafalgar Square. We found a great pub to have lunch at, and the guide joined us for lunch which was cool since he was very interesting to listen to. After lunch, we headed to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We were supposed to be able to go in, but since it was just before Christmas, there was a carols event that prevented us from entering. We circled the perimeter of the building before going back on the bus to head to the Tower of London. We headed across Tower Bridge towards the tower itself. Once we entered, we put on our radio headsets and we got a brief tour of the outside portions of the tower before the guide left us to explore the inside portions on our own. Our first stop was the crown jewels exhibit, which was absolutely stunning. It was so amazing seeing all of the different crowns, scepters and orbs that were used in the various coronation ceremonies. Once we finished there, we walked around some more, taking pictures with the Beefeaters and the ravens. After doing some souvenir shopping on our way back to the bus, we boarded the bus and reached our final destination. After returning to the hotel, we went back to the show and dad and I saw Mockingjay part one and the girls were able to see Paddington. We all enjoyed our respective films, and were all ready for bed once we returned.

Wednesday was Christmas Eve. We had planned on going to the British Museum, especially after seeing the Night at the Museum movie, however we learned that many of the museums were closed for the holiday. We found an event taking place at the Charles Dickens house which featured readings of some of his texts, cider and snacks and a tour of the museum. We enjoyed walking around the house, although it was exhausting for mom since it wasn’t very accessible and there were numerous staircases that she climbed. After finishing there, we got lunch and did a bit more exploring and souvenir shopping before it was time to head to mass. We decided to go to Westminster Cathedral for mass since there was an earlier time on Christmas Eve instead of trying to do midnight service at the abbey. The cathedral itself was a gorgeous building, and we were able to enjoy the mass very much. After finishing mass, we attempted to find a place to have dinner which was harder than we had anticipated. We ended up eating at the McDonalds in the train station and getting chased out after getting our food since the building was closing. Nonetheless, we had a great day and great finish to the night by watching a Christmas video in the hotel room and exchanging our love letters.

The next morning, Christmas day, we opened our stockings which were full of a combination of candy and London souvenirs and then went down to eat breakfast. Since practically everything was closed Christmas Day, we were lucky to find a walking tour that was still running. We had originally planned on doing two, however we reevaluated and decided that one would be plenty. The tour itself was a Dickens Christmas walk. Starting at Trafalgar Square, we walked to all of the major sites that influenced Dickens and his development as an individual and an author. We saw the place he worked as a young boy, his first flat as a young man, the theatres he worked at and many of the pubs that he frequented. Our guide was incredibly informative and interesting to listen to, and we enjoyed ourselves very much. We had been told that Christmas was usually a very quiet day in the city, however this year due to the weather being so good it was actually quite crowded and the tour group was actually very large. Yet, we were still able to enjoy the tour. After heading back to the hotel, the girls and I made a final souvenir run before our dinner reservation at Bella Italia. We enjoyed a great Christmas dinner in a festive atmosphere with great food. We then headed back to the hotel to finish packing and watch a movie before heading to bed. We all enjoyed our time in London, and really felt as though we had made the most of the time we spent there.


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