London – five days with two teen boys

Old Aug 4th, 2013, 04:48 PM
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Chopping block. Cool!
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 05:23 PM
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Warning re Portobello Rd Market (I go probably every other trip to London)

It has always been popular/crowded but my last two visits were unbelievable (and I mean <B><RED>CROWDED </B></RED>, nothing like the itty bitty crowds PQ was on about)
You must get there by 8:00AM (8:30 at the very latest). By 9:30 or 10 AM it is totally unwalkable - imagine NOLA at Mardi Gras. Yes,<i> that</i> crowded.

Don't imagine a leisurely stroll through the stalls/shops - more of a zoo. In May I took my cousin, we got a late start and didn't arrive til about 8:30. I had a specific shop I needed to visit so we went there, visited a few stalls and struggled to leave at 9:45 -- it was like swimming up stream trying to get back to the tube station. A river of humanity.

So if you go (and it IS terrific) plan on going at 8AM. Many people arrive before 7AM and the smart ones are out of there by 9:30.
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 07:13 PM
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The last time I was in London with my daughter we had a lovely stop at St. Martin in the Fields for breakfast followed by a time for my girl to do a brass rubbing. She was probably 14 at the time, and that brass rubbing is taking up a valuable piece of real estate on her bedroom wall. It's a nice chance for mum to relax while the kids do something interesting. It's not free, but not horribly expensive either.
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 08:33 PM
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Great, thanks for the warning, janisj. We will only go if we go early! Sounds positively vile later – none of us is particularly enamoured with this kind of crowded environment.

Thanks, cferrb - interesting idea. And a different kind of souvenir.
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 08:46 PM
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Just found out that Brakeaway Bike Tour stops for a break at Covent Garden. So that's a 2-4-1 deal right there!

Also that it meets @ 10:30 and goes for 3.5 hrs. So puts paid to the idea of doing Muggles on same day.
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 10:20 PM
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Ackshully...

Doable. Bikes finishes @ Waterloo 14:00.
Muggles starts @ London Bridge 14:30.

Knock over the 2 'tours' in a day. Remaining time more flexible.

Sorry to be using this space for thinking things through.
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 11:10 PM
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Right, here we go. From an overview, I've started to zoom in. But not set in stone.

Friday
Arrive. Southbank walk (passing Globe, Tate, etc) and St Paul's.
Hyde Park. R&R. Bed

Saturday
Brakeaway Bikes 10:30-14:00
Muggles Walk: 14:30-16:30
car showrooms in South K and Knightsbridge

Sunday
Tower of London 10:00
Boat to Greenwich, train/tube back
pub dinner Churchill Arms Notting Hill

Monday
Harry Potter Watford 10:00 (leave from Euston stn early)
British Museum
1/2 tix Leicester Sq for a show
show at night

Tuesday
Hampton Court Palace (leave fr. Waterloo early)
shopping and/or Cabinet War Rooms
London Eye to top it off (chosen over O2!)

still open to Dungeon
leaving room for eatery suggestions
and shopping
and flip-outs/hissy fits/moods
and Piccadilly/Regent St
and leaving the boys in safe havens while I skedaddle
and many of the other wonderful ideas supplied so generously by all and sundry above

THANK YOU ALL!!
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 11:16 PM
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>>Doable. Bikes finishes @ Waterloo 14:00.
Muggles starts @ London Bridge 14:30.<<

No time to eat, no time to relax. On the run for 6 straight hours?? A rest break at Covent Garden wouldn't do it for me in a full day's trek.
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 11:48 PM
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With only 5 days I would leave all out of downtown excursions out of your itinerary except possibly Windsor (which I like better than Hampton Court). You might not even have enough time for Windsor.

At Leicester Square pick up half price tickets for a musical (anyone will probably do).

The boys would like the Imperial War Museum and City of London Museum.
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Old Aug 4th, 2013, 11:59 PM
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I have to disagree w/ lauren. I love Windsor but Hampton Court Palace is even better IMO. And especially for a family - the Tudor kitchens, the HenryVIII connections, The Maze, the docents in character/costume. Just a better experience for kids the ages of yours. The State rooms, St Georges Chapel at Windsor are terrific but for teen boys HCP would be the winner.

(Been to both more times than I can count - probably 10 times to Windsor and at least 8 times to HCP)

You don't have to go to either one if you run out of time - but if you do, make it HCP.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 03:36 AM
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I will not lose heart!

EIther replacing or switching Greenwich with Muggles.

Greenwich convenient with Tower, though, as europeannovice suggested.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 07:33 AM
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Well kudos to your planning and openess but there is one thing that you should do first IMO - is to take the London eye Ferrish Wheel - this allows you to orient yourselvs to London - get a bird's eye view of it all - especially the Thames - there is commentary and landmarks are pointed out by signs, etc - plus it is one thing kids will love - this should IMO be your very first thing to do especially with kids.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 07:47 AM
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Your teens aren't interested in rock 'n' roll history? The original Hard Rock cafe, for instance?
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 09:15 AM
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The original Hard Rock cafe is now just like any other Hard Rock cafe. Sadly. Fond memories of the early '70s, hopping on a bus at Marble Arch down to Hyde Park Corner with a group of others from the ad agency where we worked, for a burger each and a couple of ice creams to share between us. The Hard Rock look then was a 1950s American diner, with none of the waitresses under 35 and all wearing white overalls and shoes. Those were the days!
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 09:29 AM
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Isn't there really cool vintage rock stuff at the Hard Rock, from the days of the 'British invasion'? Fun stuff for teen boys to see.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 10:03 AM
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Your teens aren't interested in rock 'n' roll history? The original Hard Rock cafe, for instance?>

No few are there is a new music and some teens disdain rock and roll and most don't know bo didilly about it. Maybe techno or some electronic music or rap or hip-hop but not Good Ole Rock and Roll!
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 10:45 AM
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I beg to differ, Pal. I know kids who love the Stones, Who, Beatles, etc., along with the new sounds of music.

Only the OP knows for sure.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 10:52 AM
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OK - I agree some kids like old-time rock - mine never did except when forced to listen to it then he said he liked it. But the Hard Rock Cafe could appeal to kids anyway the Hard Rock franchise being so pervasive - and this is the original one, started I believe by two Americans living in London who couldn't get a proper burger - the rest is history. Certainly a kind of lunch there American kids could love. Good suggestion.
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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Thanks for the suggestion, Tabernash2... But I think at this stage another idea just sends me into a bit of a whirl. And while it may appeal to them as something different, I'm pretty sure there's still a Hard Rock in Sydney and we live an hour from there so it's always something we could do at home.

PalenQ – I've kept the London Eye for the last day and the bike tour for the first as an orientation thingy. Though not set in stone, as I said!
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Old Aug 5th, 2013, 01:42 PM
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I would do the London Eye the first thing - to whet the appetite about what lies all around below - biking the last day when they have a better idea of the rules of the road - wrong side of road thing - just more confident and experienced - can't see any valuable orientation by bike. But I admire greatly all your planning and keeping the kids in mind too - something some adults just neglect and have them only going to museums, etc - the bike ride I think is a great idea. Something they will remember more than say the WW2 - ancient history to them - War Cabinet Rooms, etc.
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