Tag Archive | tourist in London

London 2018: Afternoon Tea

Day 13, Friday, July 6, 2018

After our visit to the museums, Taryn and I went back to the hotel and got freshened up for our afternoon tea.  We had been on the hunt for an afternoon tea to try while we were in London, and had asked around.  A few places that had been advertised were considered by the people we asked to be quite touristy, and some of the others were quite expensive.  We decided to go have a simple afternoon tea at the K&K Hotel George, which was reasonably priced and only a few minutes walk from our hotel.

We got a little dressed up and walked over for our tea.  We sat out on the back patio, and enjoyed our tea.  Finger sandwiches, scones, cookies and sweets, and tea.  For a small additional cost, you could add sparkling wine, so of course I did!

Our afternoon tea!

The day was a little hot for sitting outside, but we had fun chatting and catching up, and enjoying sampling the goodies that came with our tea.  It was good to have some girl time!

Pinkies Out!

After our tea we took a walk and enjoyed seeing a bit more of the neighborhood.  We went to a few of the neighborhood shops to use the last of our British pounds before we had to depart for the airport in the morning.  I got some postcards and Taryn got some chocolates and candies for her kids.  It was a nice ending for our London vacation.

Tube Stations:  None.  We walked to the tea and back, as it was only a few blocks from the hotel.
Costs: 15.50 pounds (I don’t think they charged me for my sparkling wine…)
FitBit Steps: I forgot to write it down!


London 2018: Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret

Day 11, Wednesday, July 4, 2018

After Kensington, we ended up back at the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret (remember it was closed on Monday?).  This ended up being one of my absolute favorite visits in London.  The museum is located in the garret of St. Thomas’ Church, which was originally St. Thomas’ Hospital.  The herb garret was there first, and had a long history of use drying and storing herbs for use in the hospital.  When they rediscovered the space, there were opium poppies still hanging to dry in the rafters.

The Stairs up to the Museum

About 1822, the surgical theatre was opened in part of the garret and operations on women in the adjoining women’s ward were conducted (previously the surgeries had been done on the ward).  Imagine surgery during that period.  No anesthesia, no antibiotics, surgeons didn’t wash their hands prior to operating, and germs lived in the lining of the instrument box.  There were up to 150 men watching the surgery (it was a teaching hospital).  Almost all the patients were in poverty, because if you could afford it, you were treated and had your surgery at home.  Most people died after surgery.  Makes you want to sign up right?

When St. Thomas’ Hospital moved to a new location in 1862, the operating theatre and herb garret were sealed off, with items still inside.  It was rediscovered in 1957, and opened to the public in 1962 – a space that had been untouched for 100 years!

When we visited, there was a school group there for a presentation, so we got to sit in, as long as he promised to not try to answer the questions the presenter asked the students.  It was fascinating – I really enjoyed listening and seeing the demonstration of the instruments.  It was hilarious to see the student’s faces when she passed around the tool used for removing bladder stones!  The one drawback was the heat in that space.  Imagine being in an attic with no open windows and no air conditioning on a day in the 80s.  It was roasting hot!  Several people left during the presentation because it was so hot, but I wanted to stick it out because it was so interesting.  The presenter had a couple of fans, which she kept pointed at herself!

After the presentation, we had a chance to poke around the herb garret and see what medicinal herbs they used back in the 1800s.  We also looked around the operating theatre after all the students left and saw the original operating table, surgical instruments from the time, and looked out into the gallery when men watched and learned surgical techniques.  It was really cool to see!

After our visit, we went over to the Thameside Inn for disappointing nachos, but the cider hit the spot and cooled me off!

For dinner we went to the Rock & Sole Plaice in Covent Garden for fish and chips, on the recommendation of our Stonehenge tour guide.  I really wanted the rock fish, but they were out, so I ordered the calamari appetizer.  Taryn loved her meal, but Brandon thought it was just ok.  I am sure I would have loved the rock fish more!

Then we headed back to the room for an early evening.  We had done a lot that day!

Tube Stations:  Notting Hill Gate to London Bridge (Old Operating Theatre), London Bridge to Covent Garden (Rock & Sole Plaice), Covent Garden to Earl’s Court (hotel)
Costs: Old Operating Theatre – 6.50 pounds (free with London Pass), nachos and cider, dinner at Rock & Sole Plaice
Fitbit Steps: 17,000 steps

London 2018: This and That and the Royal Mews

Day 6, Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday morning we slept in a bit, then headed over to tour the Ben Franklin House.  After waiting for about 30 minutes for the house to open at noon, we discovered that you had to pre-book tickets and the noon tour was already full.  UGH…  Oh well, we got to see a pretty park on the way over and check out a pub called the Sherlock Holmes.  We decided to book the last tour of the day at 4:15, and do some other sightseeing in between.

A park close to the Ben Franklin house


The Sherlock Holmes Pub

Next up – Trafalgar Square.  Yep.  It’s a square – what more is there to say?  It has statues, and a fountain, and is ringed by historic buildings – in a word, beautiful.  Several of the statues were blocked from view by a concert stage that had been erected for an upcoming event.  We didn’t stay too long, but we did end up there again later in the day, so I will save my photos for that post.

A horse statue at Trafalgar Square

From there we wandered down to Buckingham Palace, via The Mall, and passed through an impressive arch called the Admiralty Arch.  It was completed in 1912, commissioned by King Edward VII as a memorial to his mother Queen Victoria.  Along the way, we saw a model posing for a photographer in the middle of the street, but the middle lane is reserved for royalty, so they could get away with standing in the middle lane of the street.  Big city sights.

Admiralty Arch – completed in 1912


Admiralty Arch

Once we got to Buckingham Palace we took a look at it, and scoped out the best spot to watch the changing of the guard on another day.  We saw the gardens, which were pretty, but a bit wilted in the heat.  We went back to Buckingham Palace later the next week to see the changing of the guard, so I’ll save the photos for then.

The Buckingham Palace Gardens

Next we walked to The Royal Mews, on the grounds of Buckingham Palace.  The mews was at one time a place where falcons were housed, but in more recent years they started using it for the carriage horses.  A mews got its name because falcons go through a cyclic loss of feathers, called molting, or mewing.  When they started using the mews for stables, the name stuck.

The Royal Mews was fascinating for me.  The royals only use Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays for their carriages; interestingly using the Cleveland Bays helped to save the breed from dying out.  The greys are used to transport the queen and the royal family, while the bays are used to transport high level officials such as ambassadors.  They have several horses there in stalls, so you can see them close up.

One of the Windsor Greys, snoozing

The carriages were incredible; one of them is gilded!  The Gold State Coach was commissioned by George III in 1762, and has been used for every royal coronation since George IV in 1821.  It weighs four tonnes and needs eight horses to pull it.  It is so heavy that it can only be pulled at a walk and it requires 27 meters to stop!  Ah, the things you learn when you read the plaques.  It is quite the showpiece.

The Diamond Jubilee coach is the newest coach, built in 2014 in Australia.  The interior wood comes from donated pieces from over 100 historic sites across Britain.  The gilded crown on the top of the coach can hold a camera to record its journey.  However, let’s just say that there are so many coaches that it became difficult to tell them apart – the Glass Coach, the Irish State Coach, the Scottish Coach, so many coaches, so little time…

They also had a few of the cars on display, in case a carriage wasn’t suitable for that day or that event.  It must be tough to be a royal.

After the Mews, we were ready to eat.  Taryn and I were interested in a farm-to-table style pub with fancier ingredients than the usual pub fare, but the guys weren’t interested.  After a bit of an argument, we got lunch at a wood-fired Italian pizza restaurant.  Sometimes it is tough to find something everybody agrees on!  We then took a wander through St. James’ Park, before continuing the day’s touristing.  There was still so much to do!

A view at St. James’ Park


Me in London’s St. James’s Park

Tube Stations: Earl’s Court (hotel) to Charing Cross Station
Costs: The Royal Mews – 12 pounds (free with London Pass), lunch – pizza (I thought the name of the restaurant was Capricciosa, but I am unable to find it online – sigh…)


London 2018: National Maritime Museum

Day 4, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

After our visit to Queen’s House, we went next door to check out the National Maritime Museum.  We were really on a roll with museum visits that day…

National Maritime Museum Entrance

The Maritime Museum has several interesting exhibits, including a whole wall of figureheads from ships.  It also displays Prince Frederick’s barge, which was designed and built between 1731 and 1732, and is covered with gilded decorations.  That’s right, the barge is covered in 22 carat gold!  A lot of it!  The barge has a walkway so you can see it up close and personal, and I was surprised that there is no wall keeping visitors from touching it.  There is only a sign asking people not to.  England is so different from the United States.

A 22 carat gilded barge from 1732

The museum was pretty interesting overall, but I was a bit disappointed by all of the wasted space in the center of the museum – there was just a big open area with nothing in it.  I suppose they may use that area for events, but it seems a shame that they didn’t fill it with more exhibits.  Perhaps I was just getting a bit tired and museumed out for the day.  I took hardly any photos there, and I’m not sure why, because they did have some interesting exhibits.  I do have the guidebook to look back on though.

After Taryn and I had our fill, we headed outside to sit down under some shade trees for a little while.  Outside, there is a huge replica of Nelson’s HMS Victory in a bottle.  The Victory is the ship that Horatio Nelson died on during the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  If you haven’t heard of Horatio Nelson, he is basically England’s biggest naval hero…

HMS Victory in a giant bottle

It was nice; just sitting down for a while and relaxing.  Sometimes you just need that.  Only for a little while though, because then we were off to see the Prime Meridian!

Me, relaxing


Costs: National Maritime Museum – free, your London Pass will get you a free guidebook.