For our full day in London we started out at Westminster Abbey. It's a sort of shorthand for English history and literary achievements and it's absolutely required. It's so easy to spend a couple hours looking around and I'm glad I got to drag Cody there.
Rest in peace, Cody's new hat. Curses to whoever picked it up and didn't return it to lost and found.
From there we walked over to Trafalgar Square for some takeaway Mexican goodness.
After our no big deal, just eating lunch on a staircase in London like its something we do everyday break, we headed over to the Diana Memorial Playground. It was so breezy and sunny, and everyone was barefoot and free, even the grownups. I love it. Its Peter Pan theme is so magical.
With time running short we dashed over to the British Museum so Cody could see the Egyptian exhibit. Almost like I planned it that way, Emily fell asleep just before we arrived. Cody for no reason at all (I was asking annoying questions and he wanted to really absorb everything) was all "hey, how about we meet back here in an hour?" *shrug* I'm not really into antiquities the same way Cody is, and considering the museum is free, I was content to nosh on a scone and zone out a while.
Reading about the Rosetta Stone.
When we met up near closing time, he took me back to see a really cool false doorway from an Egyptian tomb.
From there we walked through the crazy-packed crowds along Oxford toward Regent Street and down to Carnaby. It was getting to be about dinner time by that point and the tantrum countdown had started, but with a cold realization we understood: nothing near Carnaby is fit to take a 3 year old to. Much like the Royal Mile and it's endless whisky bars, all that surrounded us were trendy gastropubs with tiny tables, and nothing cheap down the road at Piccadilly Circus. We called it a night and raced over to Pimlico, unsure of what to do but hoping for a place that served something other than booze. After some frantic walking and whining, we spotted an awesome pizzeria with a dedicated kids menu and activities. Hurray for Pizza Express, you saved our evening from cranky ruin! I never knew how much I would depend on the availability of easy short order restaurants before I had a kid.
So that wraps up our big day in London. I hope Cody got a feel for the city, but I think he was shortchanged in that he didn't get to see all the things and that we spent too much time just getting from one point to another. In hindsight I think rearranging our day based on opening hours and location-you know the logical thing-would have made our time flow better and feel less rushed.
There are a half dozen ways to get to Stonehenge from London, and none of those ways make sense when looking at them on my computer. Stonehenge is in Amesbury, some 9 miles from the nearest train station. You can rent a car and drive directly to the site. You can take a train to Salisbury, transfer to a bus, then walk 2 miles to Stonehenge, which is what I was prepared for. You can pay for an all inclusive tour bus to take you there, buy your tickets, give you a guided tour, then visit Bath for a full day trip. All the info I saw made it seem like you just get to Amesbury and follow a trail for an hour and there you are, and it wasn't until a few days out I even found a site that clarifies that there is fact a new modern visitor's center with educational exhibits and a shuttle to the actual site from the the entrance. I assumed, which is always dangerous, that because Victoria Station is a big hub, that we could buy tickets to Salisbury. The ticket agent told us we would have to take a bus to Waterloo Station, where we could purchase our train and bus tickets to Amesbury. I didn't ask anymore questions and went to look for a bus ticket kiosk to get to Waterloo. Hmm. Maybe I can buy them from the driver like everywhere else? We got on the bus and the man said we had to buy them inside. I asked a security guard inside where the kiosk was. He said there weren't any, but to go back outside to the info counter, maybe they would know. I asked the info clerk where to get them.
"Two single fares, please?"
"We don't sell single fare tickets. You have to purchase a combined all day ticket. 9 pounds each."
"Nine?! Are you kidding? I just need to get across town! Once! Maybe twice, but it shouldn't cost more than lunch."
"18 pounds for both."
"Fine." *grumble rip off grumble*
We arrived at Waterloo and purchased our next set of tickets. A train was just about to leave, with Salisbury as a stop off. After consulting the ticket collector, he determined that we could get to Salisbury on his train, but we would have to transfer at *thick regional accent.* Where? *at thick regional accent* Or he could just upgrade us for another two pounds. That'll work.
On arrival at Salisbury, a very small city, there weren't any buses to be found. The ticket agent informed us we had been sold a city bus pass that doesn't go to Amesbury at all, and tersely informed us the sensible thing to do would be to buy another ticket for the local tourist hop on hop off bus directly to Stonehenge, and that he would yell at the Waterloo agent on our behalf. By that point, I didn't give a crap. Whatever. Whatever the easiest, least confusing mode of transportation is, we'd do it. Something like 12 GBP later, we were seated on a double decker with a tour of Salisbury, and a half hour after that, finally, we made it to the visitors center. It doesn't need to be this complicated. If you want to visit, please learn from my mistakes. It was a total hassle. To review: Take the train Waterloo, to Salisbury. Tourist bus to Stonehenge. Stonehenge bus run every hour. Pay on the bus.
So here's Stonehenge.
The ditch in the background is a circle surrounding the henge, and the original site of older monumental stones. Over time things were moved and revamped into what you see today. Stonehenge is said to be about 4000 years old.
Also on the Stonehenge site are several ancient burial mounds. It says something about our human instinct to strive for immortality and it's ultimate impossibility that there are people so prominent in their own time, at least two full civilizations ago, that they deserved to be remembered for eternity. Yet here they lie and we have no idea who they were or what they did.
Emily fell asleep the moment the tour bus took off, so our planned dinner and exploration in town wasn't to be. Too bad, because it looked so English and a copy of the Magna Carta is there and blah blah blah. So we saw it from the bus:
Another adventure complete.