London 🇬🇧

Telephones and Taxis

London has never really been on the top of our travel list. I really don’t know why. Maybe it wasn’t exotic enough? Perhaps the food seemed unappealing? (we’ve seen a lot of hotel English Breakfasts during our travels and I’m not a fan of baked beans, tomatoes and soggy bacon). But, we caved when our daughter wanted to see the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian exhibits at the British Museum. It’s hard to say no to a thirst for knowledge!

So, London called and we answered. We weren’t disappointed. In fact, we had a fantastic time!

These red phone booths are everywhere. So iconic and I loved seeing them. I thought it would be fun to have a picture of the kids popping out of one but…surprise!…the booth we opened had a big pile of vomit in it so after that we didn’t open any others!

Lots of old red phone booths are actually being restored and repurposed for things like a book exchange or a tiny shop. It’s pretty cool! You can read more about that in this NY Times article.

Another cool thing that you will find in London are the letter boxes. They appeared in London in the mid 1800’s and they started out green. In 1874, someone decided they liked red better than green so they were all painted red over the next ten years!

While I’m on the subject of iconic things in London I have to talk about the black taxi. We rode in a couple of them and even had a private tour around the city in one. I had no idea that years of studying and lots of testing were needed to become a London Black Taxi driver. You can read more about that history here.

During our tour, we drove by Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Parliament, Big Ben (which is covered in scaffolding and undergoing a huge restoration until 2021), National Gallery, Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey, Covent Garden, Harrods, Green Park, St Paul’s Cathedral, Royal Albert Hall and many more famous places.

By the way, we visited in late March and lucked out with a week of great weather! Mild temps, no rain, some blue skies and even some cherry blossoms!

We also drove by Tony Blair’s heavily guarded house (I would hate to be his neighbor!), the Ecuador Embassy, where Julian Assange and his cat are currently living, and 10 Downing Street. Interesting times!

I guess now is as good a time as any so I might as well mention Brexit. Wow. What a mess. Most people we talked to were sick of it and they just want closure. All of the waiting and going back and forth on when and if they will leave the E.U. is a nightmare.

While we were there, a massive planned protest was scheduled. We heard that a million people turned out that day. We saw many of them at the tube station.

We decided it was a good day to hide out in the British Museum and we just caught the beginning and tail end of the protest by our hotel in Mayfair.

We spent several hours at the British Museum focusing on Ancient Egypt and of course spent some time pondering the Rosetta Stone.

We enjoyed a really terrific lunch at the Great Court Restaurant at the top of the museum. it was fun to watch the action in the open kitchen. You can get all of the details you need to visit the British Museum on their website.

On the way to the British Museum, we decided to hit Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station. We’ve got a house full of Harry Potter fans and the girls even brought their house ties on the trip!

Well…it was an hour and a half wait to take a picture with the trolly going into the brick wall and there was no way, even though we are huge HP fans, that we were going to stand there that long! (I mean just look at the lady in this last pic…does she look happy with her decision?)

We settled for these pictures and a promise of some sticky pudding later and everyone was happy!

We had a really amazing week in London!

In short, London is a bit like NY in that it’s vibrant and exciting and there is a lot to do at any time. However, London has such a rich history, it’s cleaner and people are more polite. Oh, can’t forget about the charming accents! So, I can see why London just won the #1 spot for the TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Top 25 Destinations in the World!

We had great food too. Sampled lots of fish and chips (which comes with mashed green peas that I really enjoyed but I think I was the only one), we also had some excellent Indian food and a lovely afternoon tea (coming up in another post). No baked beans, no cooked tomatoes and no soggy bacon!

Next up…more of London including The Tower of London, an afternoon tea and a visit to Notting Hill


Unless you have been living under a rock (ha ha) you’ve read about or seen pictures of Stonehenge!

Stonehenge is a prehistoric stone circle in Wiltshire, England. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. Archeologists believe that Stonehenge was built between 3000BC and 2000 BC.

Since our family is into archeology and history, this was a must see on our trip to England!

Originally, we planned to visit Stonehenge the day before but we couldn’t get tickets. It wasn’t until we got there that we realized the previous day was the spring equinox. Duh!

This is a huge big deal at Stonehenge! People dress as Pagans and Druids and they come from all over to see the sunrise. In fact, it’s one of only four public events a year where Stonehenge isn’t roped off. You get to walk amongst the stones! How cool is that?! Well, maybe we will plan for that another time!

Archeologists are still trying to figure out how all the giant heavy stones were moved and exactly what Stonehenge was used for. They know for certain that it was a burial ground because they have found the remains of more than 200 people. Theories are that Stonehenge was a place of healing that people came to visit and it was also a place to study stars and eclipses but it’s still a mystery!

You can tour Stonehenge as a day trip from London. A long day because it’s about two hours each way and you will want to stay at Stonehenge for a few hours. You can rent a car in London or arrange a tour. There are many tours that you can arrange from London.

The Stonehenge Visitor Center is great. It’s clean, organized and well managed. There is a gift shop and a cafe where you can have lunch or a snack. The Museum is really nice and interactive.

All the info you need to visit is on their website. We booked our tickets online in advance. You select a time slot and have a 30 minute window to arrive. Once you are there, you can stay as long as you want.

  • If you have time, you can visit other sites in the area like Woodhenge and Avebury so be sure to do your research and make the most of your trip!

    Next up…London!

    Bath, England

    The World Heritage City of Bath is best known for its Roman baths. (And bird poop but more on that later). It’s just over an hour drive from London, which makes it a great day trip. However, we chose to spend the night in Bath so we could spend more time exploring. And we combined it with trips to Oxford and Stonehenge.

    We stayed at the Francis Hotel Bath by Sofitel. Great location, friendly service and quite charming!

    The city itself is filled with Bath limestone, a honey colored stone. The architecture was predominantly Georgian, which is a tad boring but the city is very walkable with lots of sights and restaurants.

    Here we are in front of the Royal Crescent. They are townhouses and flats built in a crescent shape in 1774. The most interesting thing about this place is the “Ha-ha ditch”. It’s designed to break up the lawn for different purposes but not obstruct the view. I love the name! You can read more about it here.

    The Roman Bath complex is the main attraction in Bath and a visit here will show you why. The modern museum and well preserved ruins are a must see! It’s fun to learn about the lives of the Aquae Sulis people.

    You can’t actually bathe there but you can go to the nearby Thermae Bath Spa, which looks amazing.

    At the end of your tour you can sample the spa water. It has 43 minerals and it’s a cure for whatever ailments you might have. The kids thought it tasted like the end of a nosebleed and I agree!

    Adjacent to the Roman Baths is The Pump Room. It’s really elegant and a great place to have afternoon tea-which is so very fun and English!

    While in Bath, we took advantage of the nice weather and had a relaxing walk in Royal Victoria Park.

    So, what about all the poop? It turns out that there is a huge Gull problem in Bath and some other inland cities. The gulls find the urban locations safe places to nest and return each year. The birds are aggressive and noisy. Bath spent tens of thousands of pounds on bird control last year. You won’t find this on the Bath Tourist Info but be prepared to be pooped on!

    Next up…Stonehenge and London


    Greetings from Oxford, England!

    We flew into Heathrow Airport in London and stayed the night at the Sofitel right at the airport because we had a long trip from the US and we were exhausted! After a twelve hour snooze, we were ready to go! We rented a car and set out for Oxford.

    Don’t forget to keep left!

    Our original plan was to go to Stonehenge on our first day but we had to go to plan B. We didn’t realize it was the equinox – so, there were crowds of people all camped out to celebrate that Pagan ritual at Stonehenge.

    It worked out just fine though because we had a lively afternoon in beautiful Oxford! The town was charming and ascetically pleasing! Who doesn’t love lots of different architecture packed into one small English town?! Neo-Gothic, Palladian, Gothic Revival, Neoclassical and Baroque- just to name a few!

    We ate fish and chips and vegan mushroom pie for lunch at The Eagle and Child– which once was the watering hole for Tolkien and CS Lewis. How cool is that?!

    We strolled around the town and Helena is now 100% convinced that Oxford is her number one choice for college. We are all convinced that we will love visiting her there!

    Oxford is about an hour and a half drive from London. It’s a university city with over 150,000 people and a very cool vibe. I highly recommend a visit!

    Stay tuned for Bath and Stonehenge…