Meeting distant cousins in London recently gave us the opportunity to spend a weekend there. Though we live about three hours away in Dorset, this was a first for our boys, who had an awfully good time.
The new London Eye, a huge Ferris Wheel on the Thames riverbank, was first on our list but it was booked out days in advance and we shall know the next time to call ahead and reserve. We very much wanted to see the Millennium Dome, where so many pounds, both tax and lottery monies, have gone.
We joined a guided river cruise right there at Wordsworth’s Westminster Bridge – opposite Big Ben, planning on taking the Tube for the return to town. The Thames City Cruises river trip was Victoria’s favorite bit of the weekend. As Edward (8 years) commented, “We saw things you wouldn’t imagine, like old pubs tucked away that you wouldn’t see through the alleys, and the old prison, and factories.”
On the strength of this trip, we plan on taking the trip next time from Waterloo to Greenwich to look again at the historic ships, Cutty Sark and Gypsy Moth, and the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory.
The Millennium Dome (now The O2) itself was a pleasant surprise. I liked the structure of the Dome a lot, I liked the design close to, and the way that it recycled rainwater (a big plus in England) and I liked the way that because of its curve, it felt very cozy inside until you tried to work out distance (like when the curtains came down for the show) – then you realized how big it is.
Also, there was surprisingly good food and many choices. At Tradewinds in the World Food Court we paid £5.55 [FTF Note: Meal priced in 2000] for a Thai curry with rice – which was freshly made and jolly good, about the same for a spicy jambalaya. Neither Victoria nor I were very happy with the content. I felt that it had never been got past the concept stage and that the ideas had not been developed. Victoria felt that the ideas were there, but to get any real benefit you would have to work too hard at them, especially with the children.
She is also concerned that the layout will make her forthcoming school visit, as chaperone and shepherd to Edward’s school class, a bit of a nightmare, so recommends you take time to plan your tour from the various maps and guides available.
The boys enjoyed it as they could at their age. Edward told me, “I’m looking forward to going back. It’s good. You have to have a bit of fun as well as walking around and looking at things. Overall I think 10 out of 10.” Young Matthew was taken with the ball room and loading soft balls into the compressed air guns and recalls, “I liked the jugglers and the place with all the balls.”
Our advice: just don’t take a car into London! London Transport publish a useful series of “Briefly” guides to pick up while traveling in London – plan your journeys online or see the London Guide in the Evening Standard.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.