Monday, February 27, 2017

Trip Report: Trip to London

Jarrett Morgan | | | | |

A Holidays Trip Abroad


Travel Agency: Go-Today
Flight: Delta Airlines
Destination Route: Austin to Atlanta to London
Return Route: London to New York to Austin

It had been years since Jarrett and I had gone on a vacation to a foreign country.  Actually, we had not traveled anywhere since our honeymoon to Peru, four years back.  So, when a Group-On deal to travel to London became available in September, I took the chance to book a trip for Jarrett and me for our anniversary in December.  The following is an overview of our trip:

Day 1: 

As predicted, Jarrett and I were exhausted from traveling overnight, and the last thing we felt like doing was figuring out the train route we should take to our hotel.  Fortunately, I had reserved limo service through Go-Today travel to pick us up and transport us to the airport.  They state that they will wait for you for 2 hours after your scheduled arrival time. We arrived early, but there was a long line to get through customs and immigration.  By the time we were done, only about 1 hour and 15 minutes had passed.  We caught our driver by the exit, and he told us about how he almost left.  I’m sure glad we got to him before he left then.

The London House Hotel
The London House Hotel

Since we arrived in the morning, hours before check-in, we waited in the lobby of the hotel for an hour.  After that, the front-staff allowed us into our room, which we definitely appreciated.  The room was a double, but it was small.  I definitely would not recommend putting more than two people in a room at the hotel, but the staff was great, and so was the continental breakfast.   

Park across the street from London House
Park across the street from London House

That night, we went on the Jack the Ripper Tour offered by Premium Tours.  It was a dark and chilly night, with almost no traffic in the London business district due to the holiday season, so it was the perfect setting for the tour.  You get to travel in a 1960s bus to the area, and once there, your guide walks you through the places where Jack the Ripper committed his murders, as well as where important clues were found.  The tour guide was very knowledgeable of London’s history and excelled at explaining to you how modern streets looked like in the 1880s, so I definitely recommend this tour.  However, if you’re going around December, I also recommend you take very warm clothes with you as well.

Double Decker for the Jack the Ripper Tour
Double Decker for the Jack the Ripper Tour

Day 2: 

Jarrett and I visited the British Museum.  Helpful hint: Don’t bring any bags with you.  It allows you to move faster through security and into the museum.  The entrance was free, but the museum takes donations from the public.  I would also recommend that you plan to spend an entire day there because there is so much to see.  They have areas from all corners of the world.  So if you like history, have time, and are not bothered by large crowds, you’ll definitely enjoy an entire day there.  If you’re like us and do not really enjoy the crowds, then plan ahead of time the areas you would like to visit the most.  Being typical, we dashed straight for the Egypt section, where we saw displays of artifacts from different millennia.  However, the mummies are not located there; they’re instead located in a different section upstairs. 

A mummy at the British Museum
A mummy at the British Museum 

The London Eye Champagne Experience: Go-Today’s deal came with the London Eye Champagne Experience.  I planned for us to take the last one, at 8:00 p.m. that night.  If you would like to do it, make sure to take printouts of your invoices and tickets.  Thinking the staff at the London Eye would only need to see our electronic information in our phones, we almost missed our ride.  Nevertheless, we showed up early enough and the London Eye VIP staff were so gracious that they helped us print out our tickets and invoices and we made it to our ride in time.  The ride lasts 30 minutes, during which you introduce yourself to the few other riders and enjoy the panoramic views of London.  With the Christmas lights adding to the rest of the city, the nightly views were magical to behold.  It was definitely a marvelous 4-year anniversary adventure.
 
The London Eye from across the River  Thames
The London Eye from across the River  Thames

Day 3: 

Jarrett and I had to wake up really early before our Stonehenge and Bath tour, so we headed over to Queensway, where we ran across Granier Bakery Café.  It was 6 in the morning, the lights were on, and the door was open, so we let ourselves in.  The staff was so kind that Jarrett and I didn’t realize that the Café had not officially opened yet.  We had some yummy fresh-made breakfast sandwiches and headed to the spot where we were to wait for our Premium Tours bus. 

Stopping for a couples pic at Stonehenge
Stopping for a couples pic at Stonehenge

This Premium Tour was a much larger party than the Jack the Ripper tour, so expect to be in completely-filled bus.  We had the typical tourists that talked loud and even yelled obscenities.  There was also another family of tourists that seemed to be on a mission to make the ride as uncomfortable for the people around them as possible, with hot smelly food, loud conversations, and leaning their seats so far back that the people behind them could not comfortably sit.  I mention all of this not to complain about Premium Tours, but to set realistic expectations and also perhaps, if Premium Tours were to ever read this, monitor the people in their buses every once in a while.

Checking out Stonehenge
Checking out Stonehenge 

The tour itself was wonderful though.  Being at Stonehenge is having an almost mystical experience.  Even before you arrive, the tour guide starts explaining to you what the mounds in the area actually are (burial grounds).  The place was not nearly as crowded as the British Museum.  Once you arrive, Premium Tours provides its clients with audio recorded tours, which help you know and understand where you are standing and what you are seeing, while simultaneously allowing you to simply enjoy the experience. 


After Stonehenge, we headed for Bath.  Following some meet-up instructions upon our arrival, Jarrett and I headed out to find lunch.  However, it was December 31st, so many places, including the one recommended by our guide, were closed.  We ended up having lunch at a small café before touring the city’s hotspots on foot with our tour guide, who explained to us the why’s of certain architectural quirks in the area, as well as the history of the city. 

The large Pool at Bath
The large Pool at Bath
Following the city tour, we entered the Roman baths.  Upon entry, you are given an audio guide, which explains to you the history of various parts of the baths.  While these were excellent to listen to, I recommend you take several moments to simply look and imagine the experience of the Romans that lounged in these baths many years ago.  If it were not for the business of the place, you could almost have that same experience yourself.  It was the perfect way to end our evening. 

Hot water is channeled to create the baths
Hot water is channeled to create the baths
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2 comments:

  1. It saddens me that people on the bus were boisterous and inconsiderate. That ruins the trip for everyone. Over all sounds like a wonderful trip with some great travel trips. NM

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    Replies
    1. It's just something that's bound to happen on a packed double decker bus during the holidays.

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