You may have wondered why things have been a little quiet around my little blog home lately … I’ve just got back from a 10 day trip to London, and I thought I might spend the next few days sharing my visit with you. If you are wondering, it takes roughly 25 hours of travelling from my front door to Heathrow airport!
We left my home town about 10 pm on a Saturday night, flew for 7 hours to Dubai, waited a couple of hours, then caught the next plane to Heathrow which was a 14 hour flight. That brought us in to London on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm. Factor in a couple of hours each end at airports, and you have over a day of travelling.
Without a doubt, the most unpleasant part of our holiday was the long hours of sitting on a plane. Crossing time zones is a strange thing that really does my head in, if I think about it too hard.
The man and I went on our own, children being left behind to continue their respective educations … we were determined just to be tourists for the time we were away, and we did just that! Lots of walking and looking and eating and enjoying time away from work and other responsibilities!
Now, that long plane trip!!! The theory was that we would sleep on the way over … the plan worked out for him, but me? Well, I don’t sleep so well away from my own bed, so I spent the first 16 hours of the flight watching Season 4 of The Walking Dead! There was a girl sitting on the other side of the man also watching a scary movie, and both of us jumped every now and then, which amused the man!
After Season 4 finished, I enjoyed catching up on some other movies I hadn’t seen before. It’s a ploy by airlines to help keep us entertained, I think … that, and stuffing us full of food every couple of hours. Somehow I managed to have three breakfasts on the way over … one at the end of the first leg of the trip, one in Dubai, and one as we started the second leg. It really was a good thing that we did so much walking!
Dubai was interesting … it was very clear and hot at 5 am, somewhere around 35’C (95’F). We weren’t able to leave the terminal, but we did visit the Business Lounge (courtesy of the man doing so many business trips overseas) and enjoy breakfast, which for me was waffles and berries, of course!
When we checked in for the second leg of the trip over, we were delighted to find that we had been upgraded to Business Class on the plane. I’m not sure I will ever fly Business Class again (it is so very expensive), so I enjoyed it immensely, and even managed to sleep for part of this flight.
We stayed in a hotel in Kensington, opposite Hyde Park. The room was very small, but very comfortable, and the service by the hotel staff was fabulous. I would recommend the hotel to other London visitors. Breakfast was included in our tariff, and even though I am not normally a ‘breakfast’ person, I did eat well each morning, and fueled up for the day … coffee, scrambled eggs on toast, a croissant, cranberry juice. It was a lovely little ritual each morning before heading off to see the sights.
We had been told that the best way to handle jet lag was to get out in the sunshine as soon as possible (daylight is a powerful stimulant for regulating the biological clock), so after we had settled in, we headed off to explore Hyde Park. I love Georgette Heyer’s historical romance novels, and her heroines are always riding their horses through Hyde Park, so it was so much fun to wander through the park.
Hyde Park was bought by Henry VIII in 1536, and he hunted for deer in the 350 acres of the park. Today, no wildlife roams the park, apart from the squirrels and wild tourists!!! It is a lovely combination of cleared and not-so-cleared areas, and it is always teeming with walkers and joggers, riders on horses and dogs on leads. You can even swim in certain areas, though I wouldn’t advise it, as the lakes are covered with ducks and seagulls.
You can read more about the history of Hyde Park here …
Towards one end of the park is a royal residence called Kensington Palace. It has been a residence of the British Royal Family since the 17th century, and is the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. Mind you, I didn’t see any of the royal family during our visit!
Obviously part of the palace is private, and part is open to the public; we bought tickets and toured the state rooms. You could choose four different routes throughout the palace that offered exhibits incorporating cutting-edge digital presentations, interactive experiences, and even audio sequences that brought to life the gatherings of gowns, antique furniture, and other memorabilia of notable residents of the palace including William and Mary in the Queen’s State Apartments, the court of George I and II in the King’s State Apartments and the life of Queen Victoria in the rooms most associated with her. The fourth exhibit displayed selections of Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe in the 1950s, Princess Margaret from the 1960 and 70s and Diana, Princess of Wales in the 1980s during their fashion heyday. [Wikipedia]
It was a great start to our holiday … we wandered at our own pace and really relished this quick dip into English history.
Highlights of day 1 … I loved Hyde Park’s huge trees, green lawns and lovely sunshine. I really enjoyed the way Kensington Palace was divided into ‘historical eras’, where you could start with the ‘oldest rooms’ and work your way through English history up to the present. Strangely enough, another highlight of the day was slipping into a very comfortable bed at the end of 25 very long hours!!!
We seemed to drive through most of London on our way to our hotel and we really enjoyed looking at all the different architecture along the way, and what was striking to me was the abundance of flowers everywhere, in large hanging pots, in window boxes, in gardens. I would have been happy to take photos all day of the floral English summer that was all around me.