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.

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