Saturday, December 30, 2017

London for the New Year - Day 2

Day Two - we woke up a little later today and headed to the Sky Garden in a building called the Walkie Talkie.  We have no idea why they named it this (because to us it does not look like a Walkie Talkie), but it is a cool building.

 Tower of London where the Crown Jewels are kept.  We toured this the last time we were here
 Tower Bridge

 The Shard

 Finley taking a picture of herself while the camera was in her possession

The Sky Garden was a suggestion by our London friends, and it did not disappoint.  The view from the top was incredible.  The visit is FREE - you just have to book a ticket/time ahead of time.  This helps them spread out visitors so it doesn't get overly crowded.  Considering it cost 35 Pounds to visit the Shard right across the street, this was the better choice to view the city.

We had a great time at the top looking out all over London.  We spent an hour up there before heading on to our next destination.

After the Sky Garden we hit the British Museum.  This was Mat's one request for this trip.  The kids don't love museums, but this one they really liked.  This museum is also FREE to the public, so another London spot you should hit for your visit.  It, of course, was HUGE.  We laugh at the fact that this is what happens when you conquer everyone and take their stuff.  You can store it in a huge museum for all to see.

We enjoyed the museum all afternoon.  We took our time and explored all the areas we wanted.

The British Museum
 The Rosetta Stone.  Ticking another box off the bucket list
5000 year old Egyptian artifacts

 Greek artifacts from the Parthenon

 Easter Island Relic
 Chinese artifact

 5000 year old Chinese bell
 5000 year old Chinese Jade
 I liked this - this was labeled the first library
 A chess set from 1100 AD
 This japanese vase was 16,000 years old.  That's right - 16,000

In the evening we decided to take in a movie.  We have not been inside a movie theater in 6 months.  Movies here in Switzerland are really expensive, so we just haven't gone. The movies in London were good prices, so we went to see Jumanji.  The movie was GREAT, and we enjoyed getting to do something we love.

We passed this theater on our way to the movie "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" .  We really want to see this play - it is really expensive!  Next time.

Friday, December 29, 2017

London for the New Year - Day 1

Our first Christmas in Switzerland has come to pass.  A few months ago, we had decided we would like to go somewhere over the kids long, two week holiday.  We didn't want to be gone long - Mat is only off a few days from work, so we chose London.

It ended up being an easy choice.  We could fly there for around $200 TOTAL for all 5 of us using EasyJet, AND a friend of ours let us use her apartment (she was away for the holiday) for FREE.  That sealed the deal.

 We have been to London before.  About 3 years ago we took the kids when we went to Paris as well.  We did all of the touristy stuff at that point, so this trip was a little more about doing some unique things and some things related to Christmas.

We left last evening.  The plane trip is only 1 hour and 10 minutes from Switzerland, so we were up and down quickly.  It wasn't hard to get to our friend's apartment from the airport by train, and we were settled in by evening.  Her apartment is right on the Thames river, and the view is absolutely gorgeous.

Today we started our day at the Charles Dickens Museum.  I had no idea this even existed until I started to research "Things to do in London at Christmas".  This gem is tucked away and should not be missed.  The museum is set up in his actual residence where he lived with his wife and children for a long time.  It contains original furniture, relics, and writings that were amazing to see.  We all enjoyed walking around the house and learning more about this great author.  The house was even decorated for Christmas which made it all the more spectacular.

The outside of the Charles Dickens Museum
 An outfit worn in the new film "The Man Who Invented Christmas" inside the house
 Dickens' dining room
 Finley is standing in front of Dickens' shadow.  This was his supposed height and weight.  He wasn't very big!
 One of his many bookcases
 This was his writing desk where he wrote most of his famous novels
  Still decorated for Christmas

 Another costume from the movie
 This was a large room in Dickens' house where he used to entertain and have plays performed
 The last letter Dickens' wrote before his death.  Also a lock of his hair after he died
 His bedroom
 The only existing outfit that belonged to Dickens

 The children's nursery.  When he lived here, he and his wife had 4 children.  They moved to a bigger home once he had 10 children
 Costumes from the movie

After the museum, we went on a tour called "A Charles Dickens Christmas Carol Walk".  We had a guide who walked us through the streets where Charles Dickens got his inspiration to write "A Christmas Carol".  It was wonderful.  The tour guide was knowledgeable about Charles Dickens as well as the Christmas Carol.  He showed us buildings that inspired scenes in the book as well as other important spots in the city.

This is the Royal Exchange.  It is where we started our tour
 Bank of London.  Thank this Bank for funding America when it was first getting started.
 House of the Lord Mayor of London
 Bank of the Royal Exchange.  Our tour guide told us that this was used in the Christmas Carol book.
 This was the alley way that was described in the Christmas Carol book as where Scrooge's office would have been
 Church that was described in A Christmas Carol as the church Scrooge attended on Christmas morning.  It is also the church that would have been near Scrooge's office in the book.
 Our tour guide - he was really fantastic
 This restaurant - called George and Vulture - was the restaurant described in the book that Scrooge had dinner on Christmas Eve.  And now - the decedents of Charles Dickens have dinner here every Christmas eve in honor of him.
 This door knocker was the inspiration for Charles Dickens to put in the book.  He was said to have walked past this door for 2 hours because he was SURE the Lion was smiling at him.  And that gave him the idea of Marley's ghost in the door knocker in the book.
 This was the house that was the inspiration for Scrooge's house in the book
 A really cute area of London that was still decorated for Christmas
 The tour guide pointed this out to us.  It was used in the Harry Potter films as the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron.  
 This street was also used in the first Harry Potter film.  It is where Hagrid and Harry walk in London on their way to Diagon Alley.

After the tour, we went to Paddington Station.  Since Paddington 2 is about to come out, we wanted to go and see the Paddington statue at the station.  Plus we needed to kill some time before the performance we were attending this evening.

Paddington Train Station

 Finley and Paddington
 The Paddington Bear Statue.  His nose was well "rubbed".  The author of the Paddington books just died this past spring.

After dinner, we went to "A Christmas Carol" - a one man show back at the museum.  We were a little unsure how this was going to be, but it ended up being fantastic.  The actor was really good and the Scrooge was spot on.  Even the kids really enjoyed it.  The actor basically did a reading of the whole book (imagine memorizing it!).  It was great.