We’re just back from a five day/four night break in London with the kids. It’s a fantastic city to visit with family and we got to see so much our stay. Our focus was to do things that would engage the kids as that would leave all of us happier. Therefore, on our trip our musuems visits were short, and we took lots of breaks.
I’ve decided to do separate posts on the trip to cover each day’s events in an attempt to make it easier to read and follow and I’ll do a final one with our accommodation and transport details as wel as
After a very, very early morning start we dropped our bags to the hotel and after a wander around a local shopping centre to get something to eat and to solve an uncomfortable tights issue that the smallest girl was having we got the train and tube to Westminster.
For the kids, the experience of the train and tube had them very excited and they marched along with anticipation in every step.
When we exited Westminster Underground Station and looked up we could see Big Ben and the boys instantly recognised it and were delighted to already have seen one thing that had been on their “must see in London” list. We walked through the crowds across the bridge, pointing out landmarks as we walked. Along the same stretch as London Eye is the London Dungeons, SeaLife Aquarium and the Shrek Experience.
London Eye, Trafalagar Square, Covent Garden,
First things first, London Eye is very expensive. We booked our London Eye tickets on http://www.discount-london.com/ and chose a package that allowed us to add on another attraction for a reduced price. It meant that our combined tickets for London Eye and the Tower of London cost £35.88 per adult and £20.99 per child (Online price on the London Eye website for an adult is £23.45 online and £18.99 per child over 3; Tower of London is £21.50 for adults and £9.50 for children over 5 – we didn’t buy a package for Laoise due to some confusion with the ages on the site but had to pay an eye-watering £20 for her to go on the London Eye). There are many sellers like the one we used online this so shop around to get the best bargain for the attractions that you want to visit, but remember unless you buy a Fast Pass you’ll still be queuing to collect tickets.
Our booking meant that we joined the ticket collection queue in the London Eye Ticket Office (rather than the Ticket Sales queue which was about the same length), then queued for almost an hour to be given a boarding time of 4 and a half hours later, and told we could join the boarding queue half an hour before that). So far, so much queuing. (If I was doing this again one parent would have brought the kids to the playground across from the London Eye office while the other queued).
We watched the very short 4D movie and left. I was disappointed not to learn more about the history or building of the attraction in the movie, it was really just a sightseeing tour of London. The 4D was cool though and the kids enjoyed the bubbles and water effects.
With four hours to fill we decided to walk across the Thames on the Golden Jubilee Bridge (more photo opps) and wandered along down to Trafalgar Square.
The boys raced and ran along, testing Boris Bikes and chasing pigeons (so much so that we were talking about Dastardly and Muttley for the whole holiday!).
Trafalgar Square was an unexpected hit. The boys climbed up the statue and enjoyed the view. Laoise watched the fountains and noticed the mermaids in them. We all admired the lions.
It was lunchtime and we made for Covent Garden but gave up and stopped at a pub that offered fish and chips for cold drinks and a pub lunch. (It was unremarkable so I didn’t note the name) We sat outside and rested our feet, feeling the holiday mood and the early start catching up on us.
Once refreshed we walked down to Covent Garden Market and watched some street performers before heading back down to London Eye on the Tube to start queuing again.
The London Eye Ride
At London Eye we joined the outside queue and as soon as we did all three children realised that they urgently needed the bathroom. (There’s a toilet to the right of the queue as you face the London Eye, you need coins to enter, from memory it’s 30p).
When you finally approach the end of the queue you notice that unlike traditional ferris wheels. the London Eye never stops. It continues moving very slowly and people board and disembark while it’s doing it. There’s a drop under you and water under that so when this realisation dawned I was terrified at the prospect of getting the three kids on in the short window but I reassured myself with the fact that the staff must know what they were doing, and the place got insurance so how risky could it be?
We boarded uneventfully. How many people are in your pod depends on how many managed to jump on in that turn, we had lots of good jumpers so we had about 20 people in ours, the one before us looked like it had half as many as one elderly lady took a while to board.
The pods are glass all around with a wooden bench in the middle. I have a fear of heights but found the ride so slow that it felt very safe and I didn’t get wobbly except when the kids went over and choose the doors as their lookout point at one stage. The doors that say DO NOT LEAN AGAINST THE DOORS IN RED. Guess what they did? Yep.
There are tablets built in that you can check what the sights are, and we bought a cool circular map for £1 that helped too.
There are fabulous views and lots of photo opportunities. There are red feet on the ground in the right of the pod that nobody explains to you until you realise towards the end that they take a photo of you when you stand there at one particular point. Disembarking is less scary as you know they will be keen to get you off safely and they do!
Is The London Eye worth the money?
Hmm. Let me answer that question with more questions.
Did we all enjoy the experience?
Am I glad we did it?
Would I recommend doing it?
Would I do it again?
No, there’s no need, it’s one of those once in a lifetime things like going to the top of the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building. It was cool, I’m glad I did it, but I don’t need to do it again.
Day One – The Longest Day
We fitted a lot into Day One despite a 3am start, and after a bite to eat on the way home we retired to our hotel to plot the next day’s activities and enjoyed taking our shoes and socks off having clocked up over 16km according to my phone pedometer. (How much of that was in airports I don’t know!)
Check back in for Day 2 of our London adventures.