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May 7th 2018
Published: June 14th 2018
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Houses of ParliamentHouses of ParliamentHouses of Parliament

Under construction, of course
Our last couple of days would be spent in jolly ole London. Dana and the kids would leave Sunday, while we would leave on Monday. We got up early and set off to return the van at Gatwick. Then I was able to book return tickets for all of us to the city and back while Dana stored her big back at the airport.

I had booked the Hilton London Paddington due to its proximity to some of the major attractions and its accessibility to the underground. We should have been able to get off the Gatwick Express in Victoria Station and taken the tube to Paddington station directly. But, again in keeping with the theme of our trip, apparently some geniuses decided to do rail line work on our line during the busy bank holiday weekend. Ugh! And we didn't even realize it immediately because I thought maybe I might have been mistaken about the ease of the travel, but when we got to the first potential line switches, we still were unable to access Paddington. Finally I talked to a worker who explained the situation to me and turns out we had to get on the train and do another switch before we got to our stop. Meanwhile, I'm lugging around our giant and very heavy suitcase, up and down stairs, in the super crowded metro stations. What should have been an 8 minute ride turned into over an hour. Not kidding. And it was so hot. I wanted to cry. Eff London! The travel at the beginning and end of this trip was miserable due to London - never again I tell you!

Fortunately, we were all very happy with our hotel. Dana and the boys spent one night in a giant "executive King" room. I had booked a small suite, but it was not ready yet, so we elected the offer of two adjoining rooms instead. It was ok, and probably a bit better actually, but not glamorous, just two regular queen bed rooms. However, we did get access to the club level services. Again, themelike, they were refurbishing the club room. This time was a positive though as we were given access to the executive lounge after the club lounge was closed later that day. This was dad's favorite part of the whole trip - getting free stuff in the lounges. I had tried to convince to visit me in Dubai in business class when I lived there, but he declined.... I think he's kicking himself now.

After we got settled and got some lunch from the lounge (mini sandwiches and drinks), we headed out. We really should have just taken the boys to Platform 9 3/4 and been done, but we decided to hit some of the London sites during our brief time there. Dana got us all 24-hour transportation passes and we started out on the double decker buses. We got dropped near Buckingham Palace as our first intended stop. On walking to Westminster Abbey, it was obvious the kids and grandparents were done for this vacation. Done. They barely even saw the Palace or the Abbey, so we just put them in an uber and sent them back while we continued on.

Again, another themelike occurrence was that Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament were under construction - something my mom claimed she wanted to see, but fortunately for her (and us) she didn't make it around the corner of the Abbey. Dana and I continued on intending to shop, but we didn't really find anything. We had a delicious Indian dinner, but spent most of our time wandering around the streets. I actually lost my transportation card somehow. Ugh!!! We finally made it back to the hotel around 9 pm and it was time for bed.

We saw Dana and the kids in the morning for breakfast at the lounge before they headed home. Dana said the kids were pretty good on the flight, but she lost her beautiful blue rain jacket on the Gatwick Express. 😞

Meanwhile, we left Dad to enjoy the lounge for the day while Mom and I went first to the British Museum and then to see a dinner show - Fawlty Towers. I had never done either in London before so it was a nice day. The museum was absolutely gorgeous with so many things to see. Unfortunately this also meant a gazillion tourists. Even though we got there early, the place was immediately packed. I guess everyone heads straight to the mummy exhibit. My mom, who loves Egyptian history due to one of her online games, was disappointed to not get to enjoy taking her time through the many exhibits of Egypt. We headed quickly to see some other sites I wanted to check out, like Egyptian sarcophagus displays, the Rosetta Stone, and the Rapa Nui statues from Easter Island. The best part was that the gift store in the center of the museum was by far the best of the whole trip and I was able finish my souvenir shopping quickly and getting nice gifts as well.

I had not booked the dinner show tickets online, so we went to the Edwardian Radisson Blu hotel near the museum to see if we could secure the tickets there. However, the show and the hotel are not really affiliated. After waiting an hour with a drink, we were about to give up until the concierge told us someone from the show was there. She sold us our tickets and we waited to get going. Like an idiot, I bought a whole bottle of wine for myself to take in. The show is based on a John Cleese TV series from years ago and was very well done (the lead actor was very reminiscent of John Cleese). They have a story they act out while serving you dinner at "their hotel" - the manager, his wife, and their attendant. It was hilarious and I think mom loved it. The food was pretty good too - not spectacular but a good dinner.

When we got home later, Dad was just as happy with his day. He never left the hotel, and just enjoyed the executive lounge services. We all win, right.

The next morning, it was off to Gatwick - getting there was much easier. However, we had a long wait before boarding so we got breakfast at Jamie Oliver's in the airport. It was ok. In Gatwick, you do not have a gate assignment until like 45 minutes before take off or boarding. Super annoying. So everyone is all crowded into the central terminal waiting in uncomfortable seats. We just waited at the restaurant; I also got up a couple times for souvenir shopping. The flight back was not much better. And the layover in Reykjavik was beyond annoying for a multitude of reasons (expensive, horrible food, dirty bathrooms, etc). So, I'm thinking that is definitely my last WOW trip. I can't believe how quickly it went down hill!

Other than WOW, London and traffic, the trip was amazing and we hope to do it again before too long, with the other sister. 😊

Additional photos below
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15th June 2018
Houses of Parliament

Decades of construction
Nice photo

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