....to have a bunch of boy scouts in the dorm next door. Baden Powell House is a hostel run by the scout movement and anyone involved in the scout movement gets a discount! (I dont know if this is just the UK or worldwide). Anyway... we are not involved in the scouts so we didn't. It is a nice place to stay though... directly opposite the Natural History Museum. The hostel was opened in 1961 - 20 years after BP's death, as a living memorial to the founder of the Scouting movement, built by funds raised by the scouts themselves. In the foyer is a small exhibition about his life and the Scout movement.
London with my grandson in 2007
"June 8, 2007"
We got to Heathrow in due course, and there actually was a wheelchair for me there. We went to the Hotel-Link desk which was where the transfer was to take place. Long story short - we are here at the Radisson on Cromwell Rd, and the hotel HAD mailed my charger to me here with the battery that was in it. So I now have three batteries and a way to charge them.
This hotel (and also the last hotel) have a system where you have to insert your room key to have any electricity. THIS hotel also has that system for the elevator. There are no baggage racks which is a PITA, and we front on the street which is noisy with the windows open.
We left for dinner about 5, and went to the Burger King around the corner. I didn't think it was that good.
We then took the tube to the theatre. While the first station (Gloucester Rd) had a lift down, I had to walk down more stairs and then when we transferred I had to walk up and down a lot more stairs, and the final station I had to climb a LOT more stairs. We emerged at the top and I had to rest for some time.
I did enjoy the show (We will Rock You), and I think my grandson (who is into rock music and plays the guitar) did too, but it was way too loud and I forgot my earplugs so I spent most of the show with my fingers in my ears.
Afterwards, we took a cab back to the hotel and it was 17.20 lbs and I accidentally tipped him only the 60p. But he was talking on the phone the whole time. My grandson said I couldn't do the internet afterwards but should go to sleep.
I'm not too happy about the location of this hotel. There are not many bus routes near here and it is out in the boondocks from the main area.
"June 9, 2007"
I woke up about 6 and got up nearer to 7 and woke him up about 8:30 and we went to breakfast. Then we got an all day bus/tube pass at the tube station, and got on the 74 bus and went to Harrods. We found the music instrument department and my grandson (who had been having guitar withdrawal) tried out some guitars.
Then we took the bus out to Regent Park, and then got a cab for the short ride in to the ticket office which was about 4 pounds. We were way early for the 2:30 performance, but I had forgotten the printout which said what the reservation number was. Fortunatly we didn't need it, although she couldn't find the ticket until I remembered to tell her that it was Ticketmaster.
We went back to the Garden Cafe for lunch. I had spinach soup, but it wasn't exactly like mom used to make. My grandson had a coke and a cookie. We were still early for the performance, so we sat on the lawn and waited for the gate to open. It was partly cloudy, but it did get hot during the show which was a Midsummer Night's Dream but it didn't rain. My grandson said he knew the story so he didn't really listen, but I thought it was funny and interesting.
They said no pictures, but I had already taken one or two.
Afterwards, I had to walk out to the road (lots of ducks and swans and paddle boats on the lake) where we got a cab back to the hotel. My grandson went down to the gym and worked out and got a shower. By that time I'd figured out how to get a bus to the theatre. The initial bus was going the wrong way, so we got off and crossed the street, and got a 74 going the other way. Then we changed to a 14 bus, and got off at Cambridge Circle.
Here we had a problem in that I couldn't see the street names. A nice looking blonde girl showed us where to go. We got to the theatre about 10 of 8, and picked up the tickets. When I asked where our seats were they told us to go outside and go in another door and up the stairs. I was carrying the cane, and this seems to make people think I'm disabled and to give me priority. So the usher told me to wait a minute and they gave us seats on the entry level instead!! Better seats.
My grandson was hungry and we hadn't had time for dinner so he bought gummy babies and a coke. He made me eat the licorice ones because he didn't like them, but neither do I. He didn't guess who done it. Afterwards, the scene outside the theatre was wild.
We took the bus back, but when we got to the stop, we walked the wrong way on the street for about 4 blocks so we hailed a cab and took that back to the hotel. It was now after 11 pm. We stopped at the bar and ordered sandwiches. My grandson got a ham and cheese, and I asked for chicken. They called upto the room to say they were out of chicken, so I got a plain cheese sandwich which turned out to have grated cheese. It was very good
"June 10, 2007"
We had been given the Original Bus Tour vouchers by the CIE tour company, and there was a stop just around the corner from the hotel. After breakfast and sending email, we walked around to the stop.
IMHO this bus tour company, even though it was "original' was far inferior to the Big Bus that we were on before. I was quite disgusted with it in the end. The Big Bus had three routes - red, yellow and blue, and there were significant transfer points. The Original had red yellow and blue all right, but they also had a little green route and a grey route and it was most confusing.
Anyway, as I wanted to show my grandson the Tower of London, we bought tickets to that, and also to Madame Tussaud's which I had not been to in some time, but which had been recommended to me. Having tickets saved us some time.
We were on the blue route which stopped running (according to the ticket seller) at 6, although the other lines did not stop until 8 or 10. So we rode the blue route around until we could transfer to the yellow route which was listed as the 'original' route and was the only one with a live guide. My grandson had his digital camera with him and was taking pictures again. He had stopped (burned out with photography) after we visited the Waterford factory, and didn't take any photos at all in Dublin or on the flight to Heathrow, or on the first day in London.
He got to see the London Eye (from the ground level) which was one of the things he wanted to see, but we didn't have time to ride on it. We rode the bus from noon to 3 - the yellow bus tour guide was quite good. We got off at Westminster then to do the boat trip up to the Tower. Apparently we could have gone all the way down to Greenwich had we so desired, but I thought we'd get off at the Tower and do the tour there. They didn't ask to see our tickets at all on the boat.
We walked from the boat landing up to the Tower entrance, and they said that the last Beefeater's tour was at 1530, and it was already almost 1600. So we climbed up to Tower Bridge on my oldest daughter's recommendation, and took that tour which was quite interesting.
The Dixie Belle which is a recreation of a paddlewheel river boat (what it is doing on the Thames I have no idea), went through the bridge while we were up on the upper catwalks, and they had to open for her. She was due to come back under at 1730 and I thought it might be good to see the bridge open, so we walked around to the downstream side, and watched for it. It turns out that this boat can go no farther up the river than this bridge and goes back and forth several times a day disrupting traffic each time.
We tried to find a place to eat, but my grandson doesn't like cheddar on his cheeseburgers, so we eventually chased down an Original Tour red route bus and rode it as close to the hotel as we could, and then got a taxi back to the hotel. We had dinner at the hotel - a very expensive dinner (our desserts - which were very good-were 5.5 lbs each), and we each filled out an evaluation form. I found out that my grandson didn't know that he could turn the shower head so that it would be different strengths so I did that next time I took a shower.
"June 11, 2007 - Monday"
We did a lot today, but under some duress. I thought we'd be out at 8 am for the first blue bus. My grandson left a 6:30 wakeup call (I had him do the wake-up call phoning) and answered the phone and then went back to bed - he was sleeping heavily that he did not remember answering the phone, so I didn't make him get up.
I thought I should check with the Hotelink people about our transfer back to the airport the next day, so I tried to call and no one was there, and when I tried to email it bounced. I also realized that my debit card had been in my fanny pack and when I tried to call them collect as it said to on the card, the operator said he could not place that call. Eventually I did get through to Hotelink and they said they'd pick us up between 10:30 and 11.
Waked my grandson and we went to breakfast and walked out to the bus stop for the blue route about 0900. Lo and Behold - the street was closed and the bus stop was not operative. I saw some Big Buses, but no Original Buses (we always saw two or three Big Buses for each Original Bus), and I did not have enough energy to walk to the next stop which I knew was Lord Baden Powell's house. So we took a taxi to Buckingham Palace which I knew my grandson wanted to see and which you can't really see too much of from either tour. He let us off at about 0945
My grandson found the Palace to be disappointingly ordinary looking with no big lawns and imposing towers like the palaces and castles he had seen in Ireland, but we walked around and took pictures. They did not have the guards in red with the bearskin hats there. Then we wanted to get on the red line tour, so we walked out to where the yellow bus had stopped, but we had to go across the street to get the red bus. While we were waiting we had to get up on the steps of a government building as a little sidewalk washing machine (a miniature version of a street cleaner) came by and got everything in its path all wet.
When the bus finally came, it stopped (for no apparent reason) for about 10 minutes at Victoria Station. By the time it was close to 12 when our tour was to end, we'd only ridden the bus for about a hour including that stop. So out of the 24 hours advertised (which is actually really only about 12 hours when you consider that they stop at night), we rode the bus for about 4.5 hours and did a short boat trip. The ticket sellers and bus drivers also seemed kind of indifferent. I tried to ask about an extension because of the bus stop being closed, but they either didn't understand or didn't want to understand.
We got off at Madame Tussaud's. I asked for a wheelchair, but this was probably a mistake, as the crowds (and the guide said it was an uncrowded day) refused to let the wheelchair through. My grandson said he couldn't really see anything, and neither could I. I was also disappointed in the figures that I did see because I didn't see people that I expected to see and my grandson said none of his music people were in the music section. He didn't want to do the live actor horror section which you pay extra for, and I wasn't interested in that at all. There was a tram ride through London history that was interesting and my grandson liked the little film at the end.
It was lunch time now, so we went down to McDonalds and ate, and then bought a one-day bus pass and took the bus to Trafalgar Square where my grandson wanted to see if he would see anyone he knew. Then we took another bus to the Tower, and got there just in time for the next to last Beefeater Tour. My grandson seemed a little taken aback by the graphic descriptions of the executions, but I found the tour interesting. When we went to see the Crown Jewels, he wanted to know why they weren't worn all the time.
Now it was time to get a bus back to the hotel. I thought I could get a #15 and transfer to a #74 which runs in front of the hotel, but the bus drivers of the #15 all said we couldn't do that. Finally on the third one we took it anyway and transferred at Marble Arch. With a cane, someone almost always offers me a seat, but my grandson stood.
The restaurant was too expensive to eat there again, so I had the cheese part of the ham and cheese (he didn't like the cheddar which was on it) from the previous night, and two rolls that I had taken from breakfast for dinner and he walked down to Burger King and got himself something.
The hotel had not gotten any mail for me, so my fanny pack did not make it back to me. (I finally got it back minus 45 Euros after three weeks. They sent it with a packet of other stuff from Dublin to New York. And then the people in New York insisted on sending it to my travel agent in Hatsboro PA. And it took a couple of days for her to send it to me and another week for the mailman to deliver it.)
"July 12, 2007"
I had tried to get a seat selection on the plane, but had not been able to do so.
The next morning, my grandson got packed and went to Burger King for breakfast rather than going to the hotel for breakfast. He brought me back a cup of coffee (not having realized that I don't usually drink coffee) and an egg and sausage sandwich. He also took the money that I had changed yesterday back to the Cambio on the corner and changed it back.
We had both showered, so I packed. I tried again for a seat selection, and found that we were an aisle and a middle, and that only middle seats were left.
I went down to the desk to ask if they had gotten my fanny pack, and they had not, and they insisted that I email them about it rather than just telling the concierge and that I should leave a credit card number to charge the postage to. So I went back to the room and did that. But before I sent the email, I asked to see my bill, and discovered that (as I suspected) that they had charged me for four sandwiches from the bar instead of just the two we had gotten - two chicken sandwiches when they were out of chicken altogether, and two ham and cheese. So they took two of the sandwiches off the bill.
At a little before 10:30 (which was the earliest scheduled pick-up time) we went down to the lobby to wait. They called to say they would be a little late, but they came about 11, and after two more stops, they took us to the airport.
I went to a kiosk and printed out a boarding pass, and then we checked our bags. They gave us a wheelchair. Since the wheelchair would not go through security, they gave me a pat-down search, and found the under arm pouch. Since I could not show them what was in the pouch without virtually disrobing, they took me into a private room. My grandson thought this was extremely funny and keeps saying that I had a cavity search.
I spent some time trying to figure out how to deal with my missing VAT forms, and eventually got the one I had stamped by customs and mailed it. I also had not gotten something to give the next youngest grandson, but the wheelchair pusher said I couldn't shop that he would get in trouble. They put me in the waiting room, and I got out the computer and edited photos. I had to put my head under my coat because there was too much glare to see the screen otherwise. My grandson walked around the duty free shops while I did this.
They kept asking me if I could do steps, because apparently we had to walk up steps to the plane. They also said we'd have to walk down steps, but in actual fact, they had a ramp. There was a handicapped girl (I don't know what her handicap was - it wasn't physical) who was being taken care of by the BA attendants, and my grandson thought she might have our window seat, but she did not.
The person with the window turned out to be a British man who was flying with his wife and they were in separate rows. He also had a cane, but it was a folding one. The first thing that happened when he arrived was that he dropped a big water bottle on my head. Accidentally of course. When he was seated, he asked if my grandson wanted the window seat, but he didn't. I thought about this and asked him if he would like my aisle seat, and he said he would, so we switched.
Thus I was able to take picture out the window. My grandson spent much of the time on the flight watching videos. We were given a drink and then a hot meal (My grandson got the cottage pie and I got the chicken curry) and then later a sandwich meal. I don't know what meals these were. One was served about 1630 on UK time