March 28 Thursday
My husband and I were visiting our daughter who is studying in London for a semester and then we were taking our daughter to Prague for a mini side trip and her friend joined us too.
We left JFK at 10:15 PM and arrived the next morning.
March 29 Friday
We arrived in London at 9:45 AM. I had previously purchased tickets for the
Heathrow Express train into Paddington station in London. You save money by
purchasing your tickets online prior to departure as they have saver packages. I
highly recommend it as it was very easy to navigate from the baggage claim to
the Heathrow Express trains. When we got off the train in Paddington and we
took a taxi to our hotel Le Meriden Picadilly. The hotel is in a great location,
just on the edge of the craziness in Picadilly. We had a few minor problems at
the hotel. The concierge people were not all that helpful and certainly didn't
help with a smile. Also when you put the tag on the door for the "Green" option
that means NO housekeeping services at all. So on 2 occasions we came back to
our room and the beds were not made and the dirty towels were where we left
them. In both cases we called the manager to complain. The first manager never
told us that by being Green meant no housekeeping services at all. The tag does
not clearly indicate that as well. We also had a heating unit that made an
annoying noise so we had to turn it off every time we came back to the room. You
also could not open any of the windows as they were locked so you could not get
any fresh air. However, The club level breakfast was quite good .
The weather for the entire trip was quite cold especially for late March early
April.so we really had to bundle up every day. Both of our kids met us at the
hotel soon after we arrived. We ended up going across the street for lunch and
Corey's friend Nic joined us as well as Aliie's friend Mollie. We went to Carlo
Cicchetti. An Italian restaurant that was quite good.
After lunch we walked to Fortnum&Mason which is where they sell unusual foods
and the Queen often frequents. We walked on to Harrod's. What an amazing store
and we checked out the Dior exhibit as well. We taxied back to the hotel and
changed for dinner at Sketch. Great funky place with really good food.They had a
little bit of an attitude and actually asked us to leave the table after we paid
the check as people were waiting for our table. I did complain to the manager
who also felt that the waiter was wrong and gave us his card to come back for
drinks on him which we never did do.
March 30th Saturday
After breakfast we went to the Churchill War Rooms which were quite
amazing.After, we walked past Westminster Abbey and walked under the Bridge and
had lunch at a pub for a quick burger. It was just OK. I had purchased tickets
to the London Eye Fast Track online before we left which really saved time. I
would highly recommend to pay the extra fee for the Fast Track as the regular
line was really long and we barely had to wait. The London Eye was really cool
despite the snow flurries!!!!
After, we went to the Tate Museum which was also really good. We then crossed
the Millenium Bridge and passed by St. Paul's Cathedral. We also passed the
Temple Bar Gate, We walked through Covent Gardens and Soho on our way back to
the hotel to change for dinner. We ate at Le Caprice which was quite good. A
really pretty restaurant. We then took a taxi to see the show Matilda which was
great. I also purchased tickets to the show online prior to getting to London.
After the show we met up with Allie's friends and took them all out for drinks
at the W, where Corey was staying. That hotel wax a zoo. I would never stay
there. I guess if you are young you might like it????
March 31st Sunday
Agnes, our old Nanny, came to our hotel to see us. It was great to see herand we
chatted over breakfast for quite a while. After she left we headed to the
British Museum which was quite interesting. After we walked on to see our
daughter's school. After we took the tube to a market Sunday Up. I must say the
tube was well signed and really clean. On the walk to the market from the tube
we stopped at Poppies Fish and Chips to try authentic fish and chips which were
really good. We walked around the market and got a few more goodies to eat. We
then took the tube to Abbey Road and did the famous walk across the street from
the Beatles album. On the tube ride back we met Richard Quest from CNN
International News. After, we changed and went to Hakkasan for dinner which was
April 1st Monday
We first went to the Tower of London to quickly see the crowns jewels which were
spectacular. We then took a cab to have tea at the Savoy. While it was
beautiful, charming and quite expensive you have to have tea somewhere. This
tea was really beautiful and a lot to eat.
Prior to leaving on the Internet I purchased tickets to the Buckingham Palace
Mews. Really fascinating and well worth visiting. After that, again I purchased
tickets to an evening tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms with champagne
at the end. It was incredible. There were only 20 people in the group and you
literally were in the rooms where the heads of state attend. Well worth booking
if available as I don't think they offer it all the time.
We took the tube back to the hotel and had dinner at Hestor Blumenthal, fabulous
food and we ordered the ice cream that they make at your table which was quite
April 2nd Tuesday
Since our daughter had classes all day we booked a day excursion tour to Windsor
Palace, Bath and Stonehenge with Evan Evans Tours. We had a little glitch in
that they had recently changed the times of departure where we had to meet the
bus. We were 5 minutes late and the bus left so we had to take a taxi to
Victoria Station to meet the bus. While we usually don't take bus tours we
thought this was the best way to get to all 3 locations. The only annoying thing
was that we had a few Japanese people on the trip so the guide had to repeat
everything in Japanese. Windsor Castle was great. The Bath museum did not take
long to do and after the museum there is nothing else to do but shop. The last
stop was Stonehenge. While I am glad we saw it I am not sure you need more than
15 minutes there, it was also very cold that day.
We got back around 730 PM and since we were pretty exhausted we ate around the
hotel at Byron Burger which was just fine.
April 3rd Wednesday
My husband loves to photograph street art on our vacations. While the few
companies that we looked into did group tours most were offered on weekends
only. We contacted Street Art London and the owner Griff offered to provide a
private tour for my husband, daughter and I. As it turned out 2 of our
daughter's friends joined us as well. We met just outside the Old Sreet tube
station. Karim was our guide and Griff actually met up with us at the very
beginning as well. It was amazing even though we were all freezing. We spent
about 3 1/2 hours looking at amazing art and we learned all about the artist's
themselves and where they came from. Some of the artists work that we saw were:
Ben Wilson- paints on gum on the sreets, Zilo-posts gold frog plaques all over,
Tierny Noir- known for his art on the Berlin Wall, Stik- known for his stick
figures, Run- known for his faces and hands, Jimmy C - known for his faces with
bubbles around them, Christian Nagel- known for his mushroom sculptures on tops
of buildings, Banks C - a well known Israeli artist known for his stencil ing,
Phlegm, Eine- known for his large lettered words, Benjamen Murphy- a 19 year old
artist. Both Karim and Griff were extremely knowledgable and passionate about
art. i would highly recommend their company for a tour.We did stop for coffee at
one point to warm up a bit. After the tour was over we followed Karim back to
their offices as we wanted to meet some of the artists and buy some art. Griff
contacted a few of the artists we liked and unfortunately none were available at
the times we could meet them. Griff had a few pieces he could sell us but none
were what we really wanted. We ended up deciding to have a piece commissioned by
Noir who is known for his art on the Berlin Wall. All of us had an amazing time
and really got to understand the art that we pass all the time but never really
appreciated who did them and the meaning behind the art.
We left Griff's office and took the tube, which by the way, is so easy to
navigate and the tube stations are so clean, to Leister Square and bought
tickets at TKTS to see One Man Two Governers for that evening, We then went
around the corner to the National Gallery Portrait Museum which was great. We
went back to out hotel to freshen up and decided to have the pre theater dinner
at our hotel which was really good. We walked a few blocks to the show which we
April 4th Thursday
We checked out of the hotel and left our bags with the concierge so we could
walk around German Street and do some shopping in the SNOW. We then went back to
the hotel and took a taxi to the Paddington Station to catch the Heathrow
Express to the airport to catch our 4:15 flight to Prague. We met our daughter
and her friend at the airport. We first had to wait on a pretty long line to get
the VAT taxes back and then headed on to the plane. We got to Prague at around
7:30. We were warned to only use AAA taxis as the other companies tend to rip
you off. Since we had no local currency on us the woman at the AAA taxi booth
told us they take credit cards and they offer you a 47 percent discount if you
use them on the way back to the airport at the end of your stay. It took about a
1/2 hour to get to our hotel ICON. I actually found the hotel on a Gilt City
deal and it was a fabulous trendy small hotel. We all loved it, the people at
the desk were wonderful.
Off the reception area there is a Healing Spa. My husband was able to get a 90
minute massage in 10 minutes from when we checked in. So Allie, Jenn and I went
to a Thai restaurant that Sylvia, the lovely receptionist, recommended to us
that we could walk to in 5 minutes, Modry Zub. It was quite good. Allie and
Jenn's friend who is studying abroad in Prague came to say Hi.
April 5th Friday
We had breakfast in the restaurant of the hotel. It is included in the room and
was really nice with a nice selection and hot items too.
We first had to see an unusual sculpture in a market across the street from our
hotel. In the Lucinda shopping market is an upside down horse with a man sitting
on it. Then we walked to the Main Street and at the end was the REAL sculpture,
a man sitting on a horse. We walked the other way on the Main Street towards the
famous clock. We first stoppped on the street for a Trdelnik. It is a spiral of
cinnamon fried dough. Very good! We got to the square right as it was turning
11:00. The clock has tons of moving parts . Really cool. We bought tickets to
climb to the top. We actually took the elevator both ways. The view at the top
is amazing. You see the whole city from the top. We found a glass store, Manto
Gallery, that we loved around the base of the clock. We fell in love with wine
goblets and candy dishes.
We then went to the Kafka Museum, which was a one room museum, we then stopped
at the Meisel Synagogue. We then stopped at a glass chandelier store Preciosa
who also sold pretty jewelry where we bought earrings and cuff links. We then
went to the Old NewSynagogue and the Spanish Synagogue and cemetery. The
cemetery was fascinating. We then ate at Kolonial restaurant for lunch. It was
just OK.We then left the Jewish Quarter and crossed one of the bridges and
walked along the water popping in at a few shops. We also found another Kafka
museum with an unusual fountain in the front of 2 men peeing. really funny. Then
we found the bridge that has all the locks attached. Very cool and amazing to
see. We then got to the John Lennon Wall. It is really great. We spent a lot of
time there taking some great pictures. We walked over the Charles Bridge and
walked to the hotel and I was able to squeeze in a half hour massage. I thought
she was really good. We then took a taxi that the hotel called AAA . We had a
little bit of confusion with the exchange of money???.? We ate at Olympia which
was real Czeck food and it was pretty good. We took a taxi home and had drinks
back at the hotel.
April 6th Saturday
We had breakfast a little on the late side and took a taxi to the top of the
hill to go to the Prague Castle. When we got there the changing of the guards
was starting. It was fascinating. I really liked it. We walked around and we
kept looking for the Castle. We were laughing the whole time as there really is
no Castle. It's like a Castle village. We walked around in and out of all the
buildings. We had a nice time walking around. We left the castle and stopped at
the Pilsner Beer experience on our way to lunch. We had beer and walked around
exploring Pilsner's history. We had lunch at The Savoy. The place was packed so
we had lunch in the smoking section which was not great but the food was really
good. We were told to get the pea soup and we all did. It was delicious. I must
say I never saw a man and woman smoking cigars in a restaurant!! The pastry
kitchen is amazing to see too, We walked back on the old beautiful bridge and
the girls went back to the hotel for a massage and rest. My husband and I went
back to the glass place for the wine goblets and candy dishes. The artist Manto
walked in soon after we got there. He signed the candy dishes and talked to us
about designing a piece for our home, he is enormously talented and his work is
amazing. We went back to the hotel to change for dinner. The hotel got us a AAA
taxi to take us to the Grosseto Marina restaurant. Again there was exchanging of
money issues. Definitely ask for a table by the window as the restaurant is a
floating boat. The food was great.
April 7th Sunday
We asked the reception to get us the AAA taxi as we get the discount for the
trip back. We told them to ask for one big enough for all of us and our bags. We
left the hotel at 6:30 AM for an 8:30 flight. We kept enough local currency to
have breakfast but the taxi driver claimed he did not take credit cards even
though they did when we came in and he would not stop at Terminal 1 for the
girls and Terminal 2 for us which he should have. The girls went back to London
and we went to Paris for our connection back to JFK.
While we did not use him but wish I had , the glass artist' s son is a guide and
I actually think his web site looks good especially because he was born and bred
in Prague. Here it is http:// privateguideofprague.com.
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Trip Report to London and Prague- March/April 2013
March 28 Thursday