London – five days with two teen boys

Old Aug 1st, 2013, 08:02 AM
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http://golondon.about.com/od/recomme...Memorial-2.htm

The Egyptian Staircase includes two memorials to Princess Di as well!
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 09:14 AM
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>>Janis have you ever seen Harrods' extravagant Egyptian Staircase that is so lavishly decorated with Egyptian motifs that it will delight any age and especially kids that age but I guess you have not seen it and only consider Harrods another department store?<<

OMGoodness - The Egyptian staircase is lavish - for a department store. But don't you think seeing the REAL thing in the British Museum would be a better use of tie and MUCH more interesting to a family? I can't imagine tween boys caring one whit about fake Egyptian in an overcrowded store.

And I dare say I've been in Harrods many more times than you have. I actually spend money there not just gawk in the food halls.

The Dodi/Diana memorial may be going away (new owners you know . . . )
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 09:16 AM
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PalQ makes a lot of assumptions about me, which are uniformly inaccurate. But PalQ won't let facts get in the way of reality.

The popularity of a given thing is NOT an indication of its quality. By PalQ's logic, McDonald's has the best quality food in the United States and Nickelback is an all-time rock band.

Pal, refrain from your foolishness and hijacking the OP's thread.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 09:26 AM
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My then-13 year old son LOVED Harrod's - the first place we saw a flat-panel television (at the astronomical price of $10,000, a Philips model). We all loved the food court, and took food out for dinner at the apartment we were renting.

Can someone please tell me the correct pronunciation of "Marylebone"?
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 09:28 AM
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well if I was a 12 year old and my mother took me to see the Egyptian staircase I would be sick on the floor

lots of posh car showrooms along Park Lane and outside The Dorchester.

Are they into sports? visit Wembley Stadium, Lords, Wimbledon
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 10:26 AM
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'Is pants' - that's a new expression on me! I guess it means awful?>>

yep - it's a UK expression that's been around for about 10 years now.

and while we're at it, "Marylebone" - is NOT pronounced like Mary, but more like "MArrow-le-bone" with the stress on the first syllable.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 10:36 AM
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When I lived in London I heard many people pronounce it MAR-lee-bone. One of many initiations into English pronunciation!
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 10:44 AM
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Pal, refrain from your foolishness and hijacking the OP's thread.>

Which of the things I have suggested are not perhaps appropriate for young tweens - let them chose if they want to go somewhere or not instead of just dissing things that many kids that age enjoy - I do not see why suggesting things to answer the OPs question based on my many many - more than you will ever have - visits to London. If answering the OPs question is hijacking the thread then I am guilty.

But I will not be bowed by bullies like who think your take on say Madame Tussauds or London Dungeon is the only take - that they are crap or in janis' word 'pants' - so I have made a lot of suggestions and all IMO appropo to the question.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 11:04 AM
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So, my viewpoint is that there are cheesy and touristy things everywhere.... I want to find the ones that are unique and preferably historical based.

For example, straddling the prime meridian at Greenwich? Cheesy, but it has an interesting basis and historical perspective. Fun for the kids to tie it to what they learn in school.

Tower of London? Has been touristy for many years (did you know there was a zoo there hundreds of years ago?) - yep, but has an interesting historical perspective. I would also recommend writing away for tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys - adds an absolute different view of the Tower being there at night. (if you do this, it is super easy to pop over to St. Katherine's Docks for dinner - we like the Dickens Inn).

Madame Tussauds? I guess you could learn about the historical people you see, but feels much higher on the "cheese" factor, and lower on the "interesting history" factor for my taste.

I agree that the kitchens at Hampton Court are interesting - but only if you have someone who is interested in cooking. The day we were there, they were trying to re-create a cookie recipe with only historically accurate utensils, tools, and cooking methods. Honestly, they had many more errors than successes. However, given that you only have 5 days - and this takes the greater part of a day - I would say skip it.

Changing of the Guards? Definitely avoid - crowds are overwhelming. If you would like to see a changing of the guards, I recommend the Horse Guards. I've never been in it, but the Horse Guard museum is supposed to be interesting, also.

Climbing St. Paul? This was a favorite of ours - especially climbing the dome and testing the acoustics. I had also read about the Great Fire and the statues in the basement - there is one who was not damaged and you can see slight burn marks (we needed a guide's help to find it) - and then we enjoyed walking around in the basement and viewing the statues that lost pieces and parts in the Great Fire. Kind of macabre, I know, but it is interesting to understand why the one that wasn't broken survived.

Climbing O2? I would rather spend my tourist money doing this than Madame Tussauds or London Dungeon. It really was fun - for kids and adults, too. Has an amazing view of the area. We also sat down and had dinner in the area - lots of choices. This is extremely unique to London (the same company offers the "climb the harbor bridge tour in Sydney")

Cabinet War Rooms? Loved them. We took the kids 3 years ago and they got fixated on the "its dark and it stinks". We kept trying to explain how amazing it was that the British government and war effort was run from there and that is part of it. I think older kids - who get the WWII thing - would be more engaged.

London Eye? One of our favorites. We aim for sunset - so you go up in the Eye while the lights are turning on. We have eaten at the Strada on Southbank that someone recommended and it was great for a family.

Don't overthink the travel card. Just make a decision and go with it. We did not do the 2for1 since most things we were doing weren't on there. And I"m ok with that decision. Might have saved a little money, but I find it is easy to become obsessed with the "I'm saving 5 pounds" decisions and then I airmail an entire day and our plans.

The other thing is to look at what your boys might be doing next year curriculum wise. If they have an extensive Shakespeare unit, might be worth a backstage trip to the Globe. Is seeing Parliament something they might like if they have American civics classes? (interesting to compare and contrast systems of government).

have a great trip!
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 11:06 AM
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It's nice to take a boat ride on the Thames.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 11:14 AM
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For example, straddling the prime meridian at Greenwich? Cheesy, but it has an interesting basis and historical perspective. Fun for the kids to tie it to what they learn in school.>

Greenwich is a great suggestion not only for the reasons you give but also they may want to visit the Cutty Sark and walk under the world's oldest undedrwater tunnen - a foot tunnel under the Thames and take the Dockland Railway - built on high stilts thru the modern new Docklands - these trains are driverless and you can sit right up front where the driver would be and think you are driving - anyway kids will love this unique transportation thing - a part of the Transport for London thing like Tube so Oyster Card works.

Yes Greenwich where time begins and ends and kids can straddle both hemispheres is not only educational but fun as well.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 02:19 PM
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Hi everyone and thanks for all your good wishes and spirited discussions! Had a couple of giggles along the way...

Off the top of my head: Harrods, probably only if we're passing and I say 'this is a famous department store, want to have a look?' and they fall over themselves to get in the door.

Shakespeare's Globe: something I'm interested in and eldest has studied Shakespeare and we've seen 'Shakespeare in Love', etc.

Ceremony of the Keys: I think yes. Tower of London itself, yes of course. Probably on separate days.

Posh car showrooms: thanks for that one, sofarsogood. Wembley? Probably only if they had a game on. I'll ask them

St Paul's: definitely.

London Eye: not sure yet.

Cabinet War Rooms: eldest is studying WW2 so I think yes. Sounds cool enough for all of us anyway.

Transport: just going with the travel cards and I'm not going to think it any further, as surfmom suggests. Countless hours spent doing the numbers on Swiss Passes have burnt me! Plan to walk on the first day anyway, so will walk to Marylebone if that's the most interesting route. We arrive on a Friday.

Greenwich: probably, but depends on time.

Hampton Court: was the 'greater part of the day' misspent in the kitchens or at Hampton Court itself?

Mme Tussaud's: nup

Boat ride: next stop Paris and planning a boat ride on the Seine, so probably not

Climbing over lions in Trafalgar Square! Free!

Remember the trip to Harry Potter WB too... I'm assuming this is a big chunk out of a day.

Speaking of, must book it...
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 05:02 PM
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We spent about 5 hours at Hampton Court Palace and loved every minute.

They have the state apartments to tour and some historical information about Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey whom Henry "relieved" Hampton Court from to make his own. You don't feel crowded like you do at Versailles so it is much more enjoyable to tour around. We were jostled at Versailles and did not enjoy it but at Hampton Court we were able to admire the paintings on the ceilings and not get pushed from one room into the other. We toured them at a leisurely pace.

They have fabulous gardens to tour and a hedge maze to get lost in as well. Kids and adults like this a lot.

We went when they did live kitchen demonstrations. My son was able to light the tinder box which is what they used in those days to start the fire. They were preparing real mutton and showed what spices they were going to use to season it. We left the kitchen area but one of the guides told my son what time to return so he could turn the meat on the spigot. It was the first time my son cared about time and while we were in the gardens, he said it is time to go back into the kitchen, because I have to turn the meat. He was the first one lined up along with other kids to take their turn at the roasting pit.

In addition, throughout the day you meet "King Henry" and "Lady Katherine" who walk around the grounds and perform skits all throughout the property. You can check the schedule and follow them along or just pick the one or two you are interested in staying to see. We didn't have time to see any of the skits but we did take a picture with King Henry and Lady Katherine as they were walking along the grounds.

We had fun in the maze and even the cafeteria had good food. You can choose healthy choices in the café and it was reasonably priced.

Even if you just pass through the kitchens because there are no demonstrations going on that day, I still highly recommend it. It certainly has historical significance and makes for a wonderful day out for all to enjoy.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 05:28 PM
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McLaren showroom near Harrods: http://www.london.mclaren.com/ and near Heathrow is the London Motor Museum: http://londonunveiled.com/2013/02/21/carmuseum/ (not modern, but interesting). Definitely they'd enjoy HMS Belfast: http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/hms-belfast (my son that age liked it), and possibly the RAF Museum http://wp.me/p2r6no-6o
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 05:31 PM
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May have missed my post up thread . . . >>Owen Ferrari at 125 Old Brompton Road and Lamborghini and Maserati at 25-27 Old Brompton Road in South Kensington.

Stratstone Aston Martin in Park Lane<<

These are the main dealerships in London.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 05:34 PM
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>>Hampton Court: was the 'greater part of the day' misspent in the kitchens or at Hampton Court itself?<<

You can spend as little pr as much time in the Tudor kitchens as you want . . . Or bypass them completely. They are a teensy % of the whole Hampton Court Palace experience.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 05:44 PM
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http://www.hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPa...lacehighlights


Check out their website above to see if there is something of interest. It is not just the kitchens. As I mentioned above there is a lot to do there to fill most of a day.

Like the Tower of London you do have to allow plenty of time for each of those places. We spent about 5 hours at each one on different days.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 05:53 PM
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You might spend as much time as europeannovice (from her other threads I get the feeling they are very <i>thorough</i> tourers )

But a good rule of thumb for both the Tower and HCP are about 3-ish hours is a good balance for a first visit. Long enough to see most of the main bits, not long enough to read every last placard.

Add more time for the gift shops and lunch (both have decent cafes on-site) - so count on maybe 3.5 - 4 hours at each. And IF the kids can't be pulled away it may take longer. If they are over-full of sightseeing by that point - then an hour less.
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 07:27 PM
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All very helpful, thank you!

Travelling on my own was always 'go where the wind takes you' kind of affair... I've never planned so much!

Rough plan:
Friday:
Arrive (dazed). Walk to Charing X and buy travel cards
Hang round Trafalgar Sq
Piccadilly Circus, stroll past Regent St car showroom
Climb London Monument and/or St Paul's
Hop on Bus no.11
relax in a park

Saturday:
Brakeaway Bike Tour (Grand London) in a.m. (3 hrs)
Brit Museum/Nat Hist.
St Paul's if not climbed already
Car showrooms in South Kensington and Mclaren's Knightsbridge (also squiz at Harrod's)

Sunday:
Tower of London early
Brit M/Nat Hist.
Muggles walking tour p.m. (approx 2 hrs)
Ceremony of Keys sunset

Monday:
WB Harry Potter 10am (booked)
Cabinet War Rooms
1/2 price Chorus Line maybe?

Tuesday:
Hampton Court a.m.
afternoon: open (could be Greenwich, Globe, HMS B, revisiting favourite spots or not much at all. Possibly London Eye)

We will fit in the palace, parks, picnics, people watching...

Wed: Paris here we come!
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Old Aug 1st, 2013, 08:55 PM
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Some random thoughts. The ceremony of the keys is not 'at sunset'. It is at 10 pm (arrival by 9:30 SHARP). You don't just show up - you. MUST have pre-booked tix. Can take several weeks to request/receive. And you need to have flexible dates when you send in the request.

Hampton Court palace is not a 'morning' site. If you arrive at opening time, don't count on being back in London til mid afternoon or later. The palace itself may only take you 3 or 4 hours , but you need to account for travel to/from.

There is nothing to see at Piccadilly Circus.. If you must go there, walk through at night to view the colorful signs ( but IMO they are not nearly as nice/iconic as they were before the electronic 'upgrades'.

The muggles tours are only morning and early afternoon - wont work the same day as the Tower plus a museum.
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