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First time trip to London for elderly parents

First time trip to London for elderly parents

Mar 22nd, 2014, 01:46 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 321
First time trip to London for elderly parents

Hi, Partners parents are now in their 70s but have never been to London before and so we're taking them for 3 nights in May. They are both active but would not now visit London on their own. We've asked more than once what they'd like to do but they are very happy to leave everything up to us to plan with the one exception of wanting to see The Mousetrap, which we've booked. We head down from Manchester on Sunday 11 May (upgrading to first class on the train) and their 23yo grandson is joining us. We've found a great apartment through Airbnb very close to Limehouse station on the Dockland Light Railway for a total cost of £575. We've got Heston's Dinner booked for 6.30pm that first night. The Mousetrap booked for Monday night and St John booked for Tuesday night (partners Dad was a butcher). Before we go to Dinner we're going to explore Harrods as its so close and doesn't close until 6pm. Wednesday morning (train back is 1pm) is devoted to going on the cable car across to the O2 and then exploring Greenwich.

That just leaves Monday and Tuesday to sort. The longlist for these 2 days includes:
British Museum
Westminster Abbey
St Pauls Cathedral, Millenium bridge, Tate Modern
Borough Market (will swap this to Wednesday morning if it makes the cut
Tower of London
London Eye
Victoria and Albert
River Cruise
Open top bus
Afternoon tea at a posh hotel

Does anyone have experience of a similar situation or insights on what might appeal most? Any other top tips/ideas/suggestions on making this a great trip for them gratefully received. Thanks for your help. Tim
tjhome1 is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
I would just cut your losses and book a bus tour. If your parents had wanted to go to London before reaching the age of 70+ they would have done so on their own. THey are "happy" to be leaving all the planning up to you because fundamentally they are not interested in seeing anything in particular except what they told you wanted to see. The Mousetrap.

Not everybody likes to travel or sightsee. In fact it is possible NOBODY actually likes to sightsee. A bus tour will hit most of your wish list and if there is anything else YOU want to see then take the folks along.

The upside is they are unlikely to complain no matter where you choose. So please yourself first and foremost and remember not to make a plan that critically depends on nice weather. You might not get it.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,969
Is that a wish list . . . because it is easily a week's worth- not 2 days. And since part of Tuesday will be spent at Harrods, really only 1.5 days.

The hard truth is you will maybe her to 3 of the biggies off your list. Which 3 is up to you.

To give you some ideas to start trimming the list - here is what a very basic/short visit would take not counting travel time . . .

British Museum - 2 to 4 hours
Westminster Abbey - 1.5 to 2 hours
Parliament - just a walk by
St Pauls Cathedral - 1 hour minimum, 1.5-2 hours more likely; Millennium bridge - 10 mins to walk across/take photos; , Tate Modern - 45 mins to just look at the building/2 hours to see some of the collections
Borough Market - doesn't fit in your time frame
Tower of London - 3 hours
London Eye - do this at night since it will eat up an hour of your VERY limited daytime sightseeing.
Victoria and Albert - 2 hours minimum
River Cruise - 1-2 hours depending on which one
Open top bus - all day long
Afternoon tea at a posh hotel - 1.5 hours.

With travel time you need to add at least 30 mins to each site.
janisj is online now  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 04:24 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 3,425
If I were taking someone to London for the first time, I wouldn't miss Westminster Abbey or the Tower of London. Other than that, with people who seem fairly indifferent to museums, I'd be inclined to limit everything else to outdoor/general activities, like a bus tour (or take a HOHO/Hop-On-Hop-Off bus to get around), afternoon tea, stuff like that. Or present them with a short description of the three museums you think they most might like/tolerate and ask them to pick one.
artsnletters is offline  
Mar 22nd, 2014, 04:39 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 7,899
I agree with artsnletters.
Perhaps the bus tour for the first full day (they really should see Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square…) and you could hop off and on at a few places of interest.
The second day you could see the Tower of London (go early) and then Westminster Abbey (take a verger tour.)
KTtravel is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2014, 12:53 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 269
I think it is really nice that you are going to visit London with your parents. You will be creating wonderful memories with them.

You won’t be able to see everything on the list so I also agree with artsnletters that you should definitely see Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.

Along with Janisj’s approximate times to allow for the sites, here are the opening/closing times:
Westminster Abbey: 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
British Museum: 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
St. Paul’s Cathedral: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Tower of London: 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. on Monday and 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday
London Eye: 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Victoria and Albert Museum: 10:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Borough Market: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Wednesday
Hop On Hop Off bus tour: 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

I’m pretty sure that you can use your train tickets to get the two for one deals at the Tower of London and London Eye. If you decide to go on the Eye, maybe you should go at night after dinner.

What time will you arrive in London on Sunday? If it is early enough, I’d start using the Hop On Hop Off Bus to get an overview of the city. Buy tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus online. You may not have time for afternoon tea at a posh hotel, but since you plan to go to Harrod’s prior to Dinner on Sunday, maybe you could have tea in their tea room. http://www.harrods.com/content/the-s.../the-tea-room/

On Monday, you will still be able to use the Hop On Hop Off Bus (24 hour pass). Go to the British Museum in the morning then head over to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

On Tuesday, you could go to Westminster Abbey first thing in the morning (get there early). Walk past the buildings of Parliament and Big Ben to Westminster Pier. Take a river cruise to the Tower of London. Buy a one way ticket (online) and according to the timetable, City Cruises leaves Westminster Pier and arrives at the Tower Pier in about 35 minutes. If you don’t have time to walk over the Millennium Bridge, you’ll at least be able to see it from the Thames.

I don’t think you’ll have enough time to explore Greenwich prior to your 1:00 p.m. train departure. I would go to Borough Market instead. It’s amazing.
lovs2travel is offline  
Mar 24th, 2014, 11:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 321
Thanks for the excellent range of responses. They've helped fix the schedule - the HOHO bus, Tower of London and Westminster Abbey it is and anything else is a bonus.
tjhome1 is offline  
Mar 24th, 2014, 12:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561

It might be better if you/they were closer to Central London. At least Limehouse is thisclose to the Tower (two stops).
BigRuss is offline  
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