Day 78 – Off to London
Our flight to London was scheduled at 10:30am. We were expecting lots of lines at the airport, but check in wound up being a breeze, as we learned that EasyJet has its own terminal. In addition, our flight was delayed so we had a couple hours at the terminal to chill. It was then an easy 2 hour flight to Gatwick.
We got a tip from a friend to take the train from the airport to Victoria station as it is 30 minutes vs 1.5 hours due to all the traffic, and of course a lot less expensive. When we were buying the tickets I got help from a worker who recommended we take the non-express train which was half the price and only 5 minutes longer. Plus it would give us access to the Underground at Victoria station. Sold.
When we arrived at Victoria station, we hopped onto the local Underground that took us within a 5 minute walk to our hotel. When we arrived at the Oxford Circus stop, it was liking walking in the heart of Time Square in terms of the amount of people, but it looked more like 5th Avenue in NYC. Right away, you could see how nice the buildings were and all the high-end stores. The black taxi cabs stood out right away, as well as the double decker buses.
After checking into our room at the amazing Langham Hotel, we headed to Buckingham Palace. On our way there, we stopped at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant, Heddon Street Kitchen for lunch. I had to get the fish and chips being in London and it was delish!
When we arrived at Buckingham palace, Josh was disappointed that the guards were behind the palace gates, as all he wanted to do was dance in front of them to try and make them laugh. That’s when it hit us, London is cold!
From there we took the Underground to South Kensington as Kel had Tea Time reserved at The Drawing Room that was meant for kids to have some fun. They have a special science afternoon tea with mini sandwiches, biscuits, chocolate, and potions for the kids to work on while eating and sipping tea. Once again Kel came through with her planning!
While we were waiting for our reservation, I decided to walk around and see the area and I had my first surreal experience. I was crossing the street and looking for cars and all of a sudden I got dizzy. It just hit me at the moment, of course! The cars are on the opposite side of the street. My brain forgot to register that earlier and when it did (by almost getting hit by a car) it took me a moment to catch my grounding.
We got back to the hotel and on a whim I asked Josh if he wanted to check out the gym and he said sure. It turned out to be an amazing gym and the treadmills had iMac size screens on them that actually had YouTube on it. At that point Josh was hooked and started walking and watching his favorite shows. “Dad, can we stay here all night?” he blurted out more than once. To Kelli’s chagrin we did stay there for over an hour and I lost my opportunity to grab a drink with her at the downstairs bar. Whoops.
Day 79 – Saturday, A Cold, Rainy London
As much as I wanted to, I could not get myself to run as the morning temperature was hovering around 35 degrees and I was not mentally prepared for that. So instead, I got everyone breakfast from Starbucks and we headed off to tour London by foot.
No one was properly dressed, Leila refused to even wear her jacket, as she said it was too small. So instead of following the walking itinerary I planned out the night before we did an audible and took the Underground to White Horse Parade. Why? Because the concierge told us that is where you can get up-close and personal to the Queen’s Guards.
We arrived at just the opportune time, as they were changing the horses and guards at the front, so we got to enjoy a short ceremony. But still that was not enough for Josh. Afterwards we walked in and Josh found exactly what he was looking for! A guard standing straight faced and not moving. Josh had watched too many YouTube videos of others trying to make the guards laugh, he had to try it himself.
So he walked up and started dancing. Right away, I got embarrassed because it is of course a bit rude. Before we knew it, a crowd started gathering and people started filming Josh. I was thinking, great he is going to be the next yoyo on YouTube doing this. I couldn’t get myself to film but I took a photo or two.
So after about a minute or two and the crowd watching, Josh maybe pushed the guards buttons or he just needed a walk. He began marching with big steps to the front gate directly in people’s way. All the while screaming, “MAKE WAY FOR THE QUEEN’S GUARD.” So there you have it. Josh got his success.
From there we hung out at Trafalgar Square and Jonah and Josh could not resist climbing up the enormous monument in the middle. Kelli and Leila went book shopping and used it as an opportunity to get warmer.
We then took the Underground to the LondonTower and the famous Tower Bridge. The plan was to walk over the Tower Bridge and then walk an additional 15 minutes to the Borough Market and grab lunch. However by this time Leila was of course freezing, so I gave her my jacket and Jonah refused to walk so I carried him most of the way.
When we finally arrived at Borough Market, the sky started opening up and it pretty much rained straight until the next morning. It was so crowded inside, you could not even walk. Damn there is a lot of freaking people here, I thought! Not being one for crowds, I had to bee-line out of the center of the market. We totally lucked out and found a wine bar/ restaurant attached to it with one table left on the upper deck overlooking the market. It was perfect. The kids were tired and hungry, which led to the usual screaming and fighting. But we were sitting, we were about to eat and YES order some wine. So all was good.
Because of the rain and the cold, we decided to head back to the hotel around 5ish and regroup. We went for a taxi this time. Big Mistake. There was a parade going on that had much of the streets closed. So after going less than a mile, and $25 later we got out and headed to the Underground to escape the unrelenting rain in the dark stormy night.
Because of the weather we knew we were not going back out, so we came up with a plan to get the kids Mexican food in the room and we would eat/drink at the restaurant in the hotel. It was a nice way to end the day.
Day 80, Sunday – The London Eye – Where’s Jonah?
Having missed my run the day before, I knew I was not going to do that twice. So I laced up my sneakers, put on my layers and hit the streets of London. I ran down to where we were yesterday because I wanted to get a closer look at Big Ben that was mostly covered as it is under construction. The streets were blocked off for a remembrance parade, so I kept going straight. Before you knew it, I was over a bridge and right under the London Eye. We were heading there later today. I also got some great photos of the covered Big Ben from the bridge I ran over on the way back.
When I got back to the hotel, it seemed liked all the kids woke up on the wrong side of the bed. We had to pack, all shower, and leave the room for good before breakfast. That was organized chaos to say the least. We opted for the hotel breakfast this morning which was very fancy. I definitely felt like we stood out with our loud kids and messy table. But maybe everyone feels that there in their own way. Either way the food was perfect.
We arrived at the London Eye, and all in, it was great. It was an experience for the kids and very cool. We got lots of photos to prove it! And it happened to be a beautiful, clear day. Afterwards, the kids ran into the gift shop that was outside on the walkway by the river. After about 5 minutes or so they came out, except there was one big issue, Jonah was not with them. At that point we realized okay, he has been by himself for 5 minutes and there were thousands of people around us.
I ran right. Kelli ran left. As I was scanning the crowd, I was also looking for a police officer who could help in the search. I went 50 meters, 100 meters, nothing. At this point, we were now over 10 minutes without seeing him. I was not as much worried, as we were in London, so I knew Jonah could easily communicate for help, but I felt bad for him. I called Kelli and nothing on her end. I decided to keep going forward, now I was close to 200 meters out. As I was about to turn around, I felt this person run into me so hard and squeeze me for dear life. I looked down and it was Jonah.
I looked from where he came from and it was a crowd of 6 or so people, including a mother with two grown kids and a security guard. I picked Jonah up and he was crying so hard and would not let go. Tears started flowing down my eyes, as I felt so bad for him. The mother was so nice and she said Jonah kept saying he was afraid we were going to leave without him. I called Kelli and told her with relief that I got him, and the drama of losing Jonah was now in the history books.
When we reunited with the family, Leila looked at me and said, “Dad, well now you have a story for your blog”. That I did. After about 20 minutes of Jonah not letting go of Kelli, we went to the free 4D show the London Eye has of touring the city from a bird’s eye view.
As we headed back to the Underground to get our bags at the hotel, we saw a performer with a huge crowd around him. I knew Jonah was going to be all right when he let go of Kelli’s hand and ran through the crowd to the front to get the best view possible.
While we arrived at Gatwick, our flight left from Luton airport. This time the train was not an option so we hopped into a Taxi, and took the 30 mile journey to the airport that took over an hour and costs $175!!!!!!!!
We left for the airport at 1:30pm for a 5:00pm flight because we were told to expect a lot of traffic and time through customs. Suffice to say, we had plenty of time and finally arrived back in our apartment in Barcelona at 9:00pm, as we lost an hour. Kel said, wow that felt like a whole day of travel for a 2 hour flight….. She was right.
It was a full weekend to say the least!