This past November my husband and I suggested to our kids that we forget about trying to find each other just the right gift and instead spend time together on a trip over Christmas. Where we were going would be a surprise but we told them they needed to check to make sure their passports were current in case we went outside the country. We had a budget and several locations in mind. I called a friend who works as a travel agent, gave her our ideas and asked her to see what she could come up with.
The Hampshire Inn where we stayed in Leicester Square
With the tight economy there were some good deals available and we were able to book 5 days in London. The weekend before Christmas my daughter said she wanted to know where we were going so she could plan what to pack. My son on the other hand, wanted to wait until the last possible minute to find out. We had already told them to pack as if they were spending Christmas in Boston. He finally told us his guess over Christmas Eve dinner. He guessed Dublin or London. It was a lot of fun keeping the location a secret until almost Christmas. It was also wonderful knowing we could enjoy seeing friends and family in the weeks leading up to the holidays, without the stress of shopping. The holidays were anticipated with excitement and without any anxiety, which was a gift unto itself.
We flew out of Boston at 9:00 am on Christmas morning and arrived in London in time for a late Christmas dinner at our hotel. We stayed in a hotel in Leicester Square, which is right around the corner from Trafalgar Square, in the theatre district. We could walk almost anywhere we wanted to go, and only needed to take the tube and taxi a few times. The weather was sunny or partly sunny all 5 days and the temps ranged from the mid 30’s to the mid 40’s F. No rain. London and no rain! We couldn’t ask for more.
Brian looking from Trafalgar Square to Big Ben.
London is a beautiful city, full of history, great theatre, fun people and wonderful museums and parks. We thoroughly enjoyed our short stay. Here’s a chronicle of our time from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. We hope this is the first of a new tradition for our family where we spend Christmas together somewhere new, enjoying the time together and the special sights of wherever we are.
Trafalgar Square in front of the National Museum.
St. James Park runs from the Trafalgar Square area to Buckingham Palace. It is full of beautiful walking paths and many species of birds. There were still flowers in bloom through out the park.
This photo was taken from inside of Westminster Abbey looking out onto a courtyard.
Johh and Katie with Parliament Square in the background. What an incredible building! We are walking over one of the many bridges that span the Thames.
Brian and MaryAnne on the South Bank with Parliament and Big Ben in the background.
This is a picture of the incredible food court in Harrods department store.
There are skating rinks set up around the city. This one is in front of the Albert and Victoria museum.
The Tower Bridge along side the Tower of London.
Walking around the Tower of London it was interesting to see the 1000 year old architecture of the Tower of London buildings surrounded by modern businesses.
In this picture the Faberge Egg glass tower office building can be seen just beyond one of the turrets of the Tower of London.
Walking through the Tower of London is like walking through an old village. There are a number of separate buildings inside the court yard of the main fortress.
We had lunch most days in one of the many pubs around London. This one was down the street from our hotel.
We kept our sightseeing on a easy schedule - stopping in pubs for a drink or rest was at least a once a day activity. We met some nice Londoners and tourists and tried a variety of local beers.
This is the Millennium Bridge, a walking bridge, that spans the Thames between the Tate Modern museum on the South Bank and St. Paul's Cathedral in central London. St. Paul's was built by the famous architect, Christopher Wren, after the fire of 1666 that destroyed much of London. Wren designed many of the churches and buildings around London in the late 1600's that are still standing today.
Here's another shot of the new and the old.
The last day we spent in London started with a visit to the Horse Guard. Horses are ridden from the stables to Buckingham Palace each morning. There is a short ceremony at 10:00 am and then the Guards ride to the palace for an 11:00 am ceremony there.
London was getting set up for fireworks on New Years Eve and celebrations were started early in the day. This is a band playing songs in Trafalgar square. We listened to the band, had lunch and then were off to the airport for our flight home to Boston.
I have also published an album "Christmas in London" with more pictures of our trip.