Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to See London in Just 3 Days (while pregnant)

Sorry it took me soooo long to get this post up!  I can't believe it's already been a month since we were talking with cute accents and dining on delicious nutella crepes.

 That was fun.  Let's go back. 

First of all - let's recap.  JMan and I have been talking about / planning a Europe trip for YEARS.  I kept begging for it as my "graduation present" but then I kept NOT graduating!  Plus JMan didn't have enough vacation time, and let's face it, Europe is EXPENSIVE.

But finally, Rudiger decided to show up on the scene which was apparently the final kick in the pants we needed.  This was to be our final chance to go to Europe for a long long time, unless we wanted to tote a screaming infant / toddler on a 12 hour plane ride (EACH WAY) which no, I don't want to do.

Sooo, what was meant to be a full two-weeks traipsing around Europe in the summer, spent watching Wimbledon, drinking wine, and eating delicious cheeses, turned into a very wintry 6-day spring break trip.  So while I do NOT recommend doing this trip while 25 weeks pregnant (or pregnant at all), nor do I recommend doing this trip during what was freakishly freezing weather during early April (we're talking in the 20's with the windchill), it was still a BLAST. 

And here's how you can see all of London in just 3 very short days.  Okay okay, maybe not ALL of London.  But lots of London!  

The must see's and do's while in London:

1.  Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.  Everything is just so old and impressive in Europe!  It's like they couldn't ever just "build" any old building.  It was go big or go home for EVERY building in the city. 

2.  Westminster Abbey.  The lines were long (we were there on apparently the busiest weekend of the year: the Easter bank holiday) and the prices were steep so we didn't go inside. 

3.  Buckingham Palace.  Definitely go during the Changing of the Guard, which occurs daily during the peak months and every other day during the off-peak months.  I think Kate and I got our timing off because we had planned to discuss our pregnancies over high tea...

4.  Stonehenge.  It's probably up to you whether Stonehenge is a 'must-see' for you or not.  After all, it is just a pile of rocks and it is a good 90 minutes outside of London.  We did a bus tour that took us to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath though, and I thought it was totally worth it.  It's a 'wonder' of the world after all!  It would have been more awesome if we could have gone within the circle though - you CAN do this on private tours but you need to book these in advance, and of course, they were sold out by the time I looked. 

It was FREEZING there.

5.  Windsor Castle.  This is apparently the Queen's favorite castle (wouldn't it be nice if you had your choice amongst many castles?!) and is one of the few still standing from the 11th century.  The Queen was even actually there while we were there, because apparently she enjoys spending Easter there!  We also got to see the Changing of the Guard at Windsor, as well as one impressive doll house. 

Changing of the Guard at Windsor:

6.  Bath.  Again, Bath may not be worth your time, but I thought it was a freaking adorably precious city.  Pretty much everything in England is adorably precious though.  As we cruised through the English countryside I imagined myself living there with some goats and running a B&B.  It's also always amazing to see something so incredibly old - the Roman Baths were discovered in 836 BC and the temple was built around 60 AD. 

7.  See a show.  London is very well known for amazing Broadway shows just like NYC.  Unfortunately, again, because of the very popular bank holiday this was something we probably should have planned ahead for a bit more.  Since we finally were thinking about our trip about 4 days before we left we didn't do so much of the planning ahead bit, which I HIGHLY recommend.  I would have loved to have seen Book of Mormon or even Wicked again but both were very sold out.  We checked out the half-price TKTS booth which is probably a better option when it's not so busy and were able to score cheap tickets to "Potted Potter" - a parody about Harry Potter which I had read reviews for that it was funny.  Uhhhh, it was not.  It might be the worst show I have ever seen!  SO hopefully you'll see something better than we did!

8. Tower of London.  The Tower of London is OLD and impressive.  It was built in 1078 by William the Conqueror and houses 'the crown jewels'.  It also is very famous for housing prisoners and being a very fun place of torture.  It was much more like a "real castle" than we found Windsor Castle to be (which was very fancy and more modern - the Tower has been kept more in its original state). 

9.  The London Eye.  It's up to you whether you think the Eye is worth your time and money.  We decided we'd rather just look at it rather than ride on it.  To us it seemed rather expensive, the lines were pretty freaking long, and the idea of actually riding on it seemed BORING.  But maybe we're crazy?  Clearly LOTS of other people wanted to ride on it so maybe it is awesome. 

You MUST walk along the Thames River at night!

10.  Be dorky.  Talk like the British.  Practice with adorable words like skedaddle, pram, buggy, and brilliant.  Eat weird foods at pubs.  Have some fish n' chips.  Push carts into the wall at the Platform 9 and 3/4 sign.  It's fun!

Overall, London was VERY easy to get around.  Obviously, they speak English there which makes everything easier.  Our hotel room was very small but more like an apartment (no maid service) and included a small kitchen, which was handy.  It was in the basement and you could hear people running around until all hours upstairs, which was pretty annoying!  The Tube was 100% easy to use and we used it exclusively - a few times just to "get out of the cold"!  London is EXPENSIVE though, which I'm sure you already know.

Obviously I've mentioned a few things we didn't get to do that we would have liked to, which included going to Wimbledon (we intended to at least tour it since we weren't there during the matches), go on the Harry Potter backstage tour (which was also sold out since we didn't plan ahead), see a show that's actually good (are you getting the point yet? PLAN AHEAD!!!), ride on a double decker bus (TOO COLD!), and of course be able to drink Guinness in a British pub (don't be pregnant!!).

Next up: 3 days in Paris!

Have you been to London?  Is there anything you would add to this list?