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"Sandwich Generation" trip to London w/ G'ma & pre-teen

"Sandwich Generation" trip to London w/ G'ma & pre-teen

Jan 2nd, 2016, 03:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7
"Sandwich Generation" trip to London w/ G'ma & pre-teen

My husband and I (late 40s) will be visiting London with our 12 year old and my 74 year old mother next July. Our son will travel with his professional choir and sing and stay at Salisbury Cathedral until the 26th of July. The rest of us will arrive in London on July 19th and stay around Salisbury until the 26th. We had planned to take a Disney Cruise on the Danube but that may not be happening now - I won't know for sure until April 1. We all fly home from London on August 6. On the chance that we'll need alternate plans, I'm beginning to do some research and our possibilities are wide open.

My husband was thinking we could visit several countries in Europe - I'm less sure. I'm nervous about spending too much time moving from place to place and navigating luggage for all four of us. I concede that my anxiety is because for the past 6 months of planning, I've had it in my head that the nice Disney people were going to handle all of that and now I'll be on the hook for it!

Does it seem reasonable to stick around London for 11 days? Or is that overkill? Should we plan to see some other places? Chunnel to Paris? Hop a flight to Ireland? Scotland? Wales? What would you do? My mother and son have only been to Italy before so we have a lot of possibilities and they are up for adventure.

My mom is in decent shape but does tire out and will want some low key options. She's very independent so won't mind if we occasionally head out on our own (or park her in a cafe mid way through site-seeing and let us keep going.)

So far I know the Harry Potter Studio Tour is definitely on our list in London (frankly even if we do the cruise) and I understand we need to book that in advance. My family loves theatre so we want to hit a show if possible. Our son will likely be tired of looking at the inside of a Cathedral but we'll drag him to Westminster. The British Museum and Tower of London are on our list too.

I'd love suggestions on cross generational activities in London as well as any thoughts on (easy-ish) travel from London. Travelers advice warmly received!

monkeyglass is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2016, 03:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 10,587
I could easily fill 11 days in London, and would definitely throw in a few day trips. Windsor castle (and Eton) and Hampton Court Palace are easy day trips and there are others I can't think of at the moment. You may all enjoy going to Hampton Court by boat rather than by train. One upside of having 11 days in one city is that you do have time for leisurely lunches etc, rather than madly rushing from one site to another.

Make sure your mum has a business card for wherever you are staying. It's easy to hand that to a taxi driver if she wants to head back to your hotel earlier than you and your son do. I'm quite a bit younger than your mum but I do find that hard museum floors really take it out of me and after a while my hips and feet hurt, a lot. Take ibuprofen or similar pain meds with you.
cathies is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2016, 08:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 305
Ditto to the painkiller (or other usual OTC meds). I always grossly underestimate how much I need, and while it's fun to experience another country's grocery store, finding equivalent painkillers is not always enthralling.
Kandace_York is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2016, 01:37 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
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Forget the Danube cruise, spend the time seeing Britain.

Don't forget St Paul's CAthedral in London. Your son might also enjoy the Science and Natural History Museums. There is Legoland at Windsor as well as the castle. Hampton Court is wonderful and don't miss the maze there...

From London you can also do a day trip on the train to Canterbury and go and see where Thomas a Becket was murdered in the cathedral. Also easily done on the train is Dover with its iconic white cliffs and Castle. There is Chartwell, the home of Winston Churchill or Knole House in Sevenoaks... You could do day trips on the train to either Oxford or Cambridge.

Visit York, a couple of hours by train from London, and spend a couple of days exploring the city. Then hire a car and spend a few days exploring the North York Moors (ruined abbeys, Castle Howard, North York Moors Railway, Whitby with its Dracula connections, the sea side resort of Scarborough, Robin Hoods Bay, Staithes and its links to Captain Cook). Or there are the Yorkshire Dales...

There is also Edinburgh, 4-5 hours by train. Again spend a couple of days doing the city before hiring a car and exploring part of Scotland.

OR you could head to North Wales - the Victorian sea side resort of Llandudno or nearby walled Medieval town of Conwy make a good base. This gives you access to Snowdonia as well as the splendid castles of North Wales - Conwy, Harlech, Caernarfon... there is also the Victorian mock Norman Penrhyn Castle. Go for a ride on a narrow gauge steam railway. The Ffestiniog Railway carried slate from the hills of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the wharves at Porthmadoc. It has an interesting selection of locos, including Prince, built over 150 years ago and the oldest working steam loco in the world. Then there is Merddyn Emrys, a double fairlie loco (basically two locos joined by a single cab and specially designed to cope with heavy trains, steep gradoents and tight curves). The experience of sitting behind Merddinn Emrys pulling a heavy train of twelve coaches thundering up the valley to Blaenau Ffestiniog is exhilarating. There is also the Welsh Highland Railway between Porthmadoc and Caernarfon, which rebuit fifteen years ago on a linr that closed in the 1930s. It is a marvellous run along the slopes of Snowdon.

These are only a few suggestions of how you cold fill those days and see a bit more of Britain too.
ESW is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2016, 01:45 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I always grossly underestimate how much I need, and while it's fun to experience another country's grocery store, finding equivalent painkillers is not always enthralling.>>

you'll be pleased to read that Ibuprofen is widely available here marketed under the same name.

Great ideas from Cathies, but the easiest trip seems to me to move from Salisbury to somewhere like Tunbridge Wells for a few days so that you can explore all the lovely places in Sussex and Kent that she mentions [lots of gardens and stately homes for your mum] followed by a week or so in London.

Dead easy and lots of fun for all the family.
annhig is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2016, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 17,028
"you'll be pleased to read that Ibuprofen is widely available here marketed under the same name. "

you'll be amused that you can also buy the stuff for about 8 times the correct price under a famous brand name or you can just buy in most supermarkets as their-own label stuff. (same chemicals, even the same factory probably).

Oxford makes for a good trip as well with the odd harry potter bit thrown in and some free museums, punting, etc etc

11 days are easy to spend in London and if you must do Paris, just catch the first train out and the last one back (needs booking ahead of time to get good prices and mum might want to avoid so as to not be exhausted) but what can be nicer that to eat in "le train bleu" at the Gard du Nord in the evening before coming back "home" to London.
bilboburgler is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2016, 09:45 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7
Thanks everyone! I appreciate the great ideas & advice.
monkeyglass is offline  
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