Towards the end of Autumn last year we spent a weekend in London doing a few touristy things. It’s not something we’d exactly planned to do – I had a hotel booking that I no longer needed, but couldn’t get a refund for, so we decided to use it rather than lose it. The hotel was a new Travelodge in Hackney – not my preferred hotel location but I’d booked it for a concert at the Olympic Park which I didn’t go to (but that’s a whole other story). It actually turned out to be a decent hotel and in a fairly convenient location for getting around as it’s about as close to the tube station as it possibly could be. It’s also next to a TKMaxx and a Costa which is handy! The weather was fairly mild, which gave me the opportunity to wear my new Zara military jacket.
The main things on our agenda, and ones I’d booked online in advance, were the Tower of London, a Duck Tour and the London Dungeon. As we arrived at Saturday lunchtime and left Sunday evening it didn’t give us time to fit much more in, but we did manage to squeeze a bit of sightseeing in. As soon as we checked in and grabbed a coffee and a snack in Costa we set off for Embankment for the Duck Tour.
Sitting on a big yellow bus being whizzed around the main sights is a really cheesy thing to do, but the fun part (and what makes it worth the money) is splashing down into the Thames! The DUKWs are amphibious vehicles (in case you were wondering!) which were used in the D-Day landings. There are different types of tours you can take (Pirate Adventure, James Bond Tour) but we chose the classic tour. It was fun, a bit draughty, but kids love it.
The Duck Tours depart from Waterloo, near the London Eye, where there’s a great play area for kids. We spent some time there before the next stop on our itinerary – the London Dungeon! If you’re looking for something fun to do with older children then the London Dungeon tour is worth considering. The recommended lower age limit is 12, but Isobel is seven and wasn’t traumatised by the experience!
Based beneath County Hall on the Southbank (handy if you want to do the Duck Tour and London Eye on the same day) the London Dungeon is a fully themed experience. It’s described as a “110 minute journey through 1000 years of London’s murky past”. Visitors walk through the Dungeon, moving from show to show, guided by professional actors. The shows are based on real London history and legends, including Jack the Ripper, Sweeney Todd, Guy Fawkes and the Great Fire of London.
One of my favourite parts was the Tyrant Boat Ride where a virtual high-tech 3D talking head of Henry VIII (played by Brian Blessed) sentences visitors – now traitors – to death. To make the experience a little more authentic the boat ride takes you through choppy waters, fog, darkness, as well as scurries of rats and the foul stench of sewage…nice!
I took far too much stuff for a one night stay (as usual!) but ultimately I decided to wear my embroidered military jacket and boyfriend jeans. I bought the jacket from Zara when I went to Madrid – even though it was in the high 30s there and I definitely didn’t need a jacket. But I really needed this jacket, if you know what I mean! I love the military trend and already had A/W trends on my radar. I can’t find it on Zara’s website anymore but this one from Mango is similar. Hmm…I may have to buy another one!
SHOP THE LOOK
The Tower of London took up the most time because there’s a lot to see, so we allowed most of Sunday for this attraction. I love history so I was in my element. The highlight of our visit to the Tower was seeing the crown jewels, it really is a magnificent display. Sadly photos are not allowed so you’ll just have to use your imagination! As we were leaving, Isobel told me she really wants a diamond…I wonder where she gets her expensive taste from! 😉 Of course, no trip to the Tower of London would be complete without a photo with a Yeoman Warder, or Beefeater as they’re popularly known. Our jackets were colour co-ordinated!
Before we headed back to the hotel to collect our bags we had lunch by the Thames and then hopped on the tube to see Buckingham Palace.
A walk through Green Park in the afternoon sunshine brought our short, but very enjoyable weekend to a close. There’s still so much I want to see and do in London so I’m sure we’ll go back soon 🙂
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