Todd’s parents came to visit us on their first trip to Europe! They flew to London Heathrow and landed on a Tuesday morning. We rode the EuroStar up to England and caught the Underground to meet them at Paddington Station.
Reunited at last, we grabbed lunch and a few pints of cask ale in Westminster. We all opted for traditional English fare and some of us even ate our (not mushy) peas!
We stayed at a terrific AirBnB in Whitechapel, London. They even had shampoo and laundry detergent for us; which I’ve learned I shouldn’t take for granted. We also found this gem of a toilet in one of the bathrooms.
Once we finished settling in, we climbed on a local double-decker bus to see a few sights on our way to dinner. The kids, young and old, felt excited about riding in the front seat with such a great view!
We spotted an interesting building as we rode through Whitechapel. It turned out to be attached to a park. The St. John-at-Hackney Churchyard Gardens had a small playground and fascinating history. The kids enjoyed the playground. The adults discussed the history. The short version is this: the garden used to be a cemetery. When they ran out of space, they dug up the graves and moved the headstones to lean against the church walls. There’s no explanation on where the previously-buried people went.
Day 1 drew to a close after a delicious dinner at The White Hart Brew Pub. We walked back to our apartment and headed for bed.
Todd, the kids, and I found a great breakfast spot the next morning. Todd and I ordered the largest breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever seen. Laine ate about a quarter of Todd’s sandwich and they still didn’t finish the whole thing!
We stopped at the apartment to pick up the grandparents and we were off to find more adventures! We walked along the Thames and discussed the history of the Tower of London.
We opted for a boat tour so we could learn more of the city’s history and not wear out either the kids or the grandparents. First “stop:” Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London. If you entered through this gate, there was only one way out and you were leaving soon.
The boat cruise lasted about an hour and was superb. Our guide used just enough humor to keep things light (“the Tate Modern is free because no one would pay to see modern art”) and enough history to keep us marveling.
We spent the afternoon at the Science Museum. It was one of the best museums I’ve ever visited. Todd, the kids, and I spent most of the afternoon in the WonderLab. The kids could touch and experiment with a wide variety of displays. The “Explainers” were engaging. There were at least a dozen programs during the time we were there. The programs covered a lot of different areas: states of matter (gas, liquid, solid); outer space; electricity… Our kids attended some of them. I went to nearly every class like the big ol’ science geek I am.
There were so many activities for the kids to try. There were dry ice demos and a model of the sun/Earth/moon large enough to ride along in orbit. There was a spinner to stand on and experiment with centripetal force. There were chairs on pulleys to pull yourself up. There were far too many experiments to list them all.
Both kids loved the friction slides: one made of Astroturf, one of PVC, and the last one of wood. Adults weren’t even allowed on the last one because it would be too fast. Coming down the PVC sliding board felt like flying!
The following morning, we had a hearty breakfast at the same restaurant. The we boarded the Eurostar to Belgium. The adventures continued!