London is one of my favorite cities. I fell in love with it when I was 16. It was my very first big trip without my parents and me and my two high school girlfriends were deeply impressed by this buzzing city, the stylish people and of course.. Lion King, the musical. Six years later, in 2008, I got to live there for half a year as an exchange student. Those six months are responsible for so many great memories, and it probably planted the seed of me moving abroad a couple of years later.. Last October, I attended a conference during the week in London and we grabbed the chance add a weekend for a family trip.
Husband and Henrik flew in on Friday, and our weekend was a combination of seeing London and visiting close friends who had just moved to Brixton a couple of months before. I must say that I’m usually not that keen with city trips with a toddler. In our free time, I try to get out and have Henrik running around and enjoying being outside as much as possible. A city trip usually meant shopping, culture and nightlife for me, not exactly an ideal program with a little boy in tow. So we looked into things that we could do and we got to see the city in a different way, which was actually surprisingly nice. Seeing a city you already love through the eyes of your little son gives it a whole new dimension. Just wandering around the city is an adventure for him. I mean, those red double-decker busses – a highlight every time he spotted one 🙂 Also the tube riding becomes a fun experience, walking through the underground system, hearing musicians play their music..
Next to wandering the city, we visited the Natural History Museum. During all those months in London, I never made it further than the entrance. It was so busy then that I fled the crowds. An advantage of traveling with a toddler is that it’s no challenge at all to visit a museum right at the moment it opens in the morning, ha! It was still pretty quiet and we were able to see the popular dinosaur exhibition (the museum is so huge that you have to make a choice for part of it). Henrik was impressed by the big dinosaurs and so were we it’s fun for kids and grown-ups alike!
Having a child with us was also the perfect excuse to visit Hamleys, the oldest toy shop in the world. It was founded in 1760 and is situated in Regent street since 1881. It has seven floors with thousands and thousands of toys. It was very crowded, but still worth the experience. They had parts of the store focusing on some of Henrik’s current heroes, Peppa Pig and Thomas the train, so he was in awe and had a great time.
After all the city exploring action, we chose not to visit a busy restaurant but went to Wholefoods (a food lovers’paradise) and bought all kinds of delicious home made food, cheeses, sweets and lots of fancy looking snacks for a perfect picnic on our hotel bed. Tip if you’re staying in a hotel: we stayed at the Park Plaza at Westminster Bridge, and the room had the advantage that it had a bedroom and a small living room, where we could set up Henrik’s bed. That way, he could go to sleep at his bed time and we could enjoy the rest of the evening without worrying that we’d wake him with our chatting and watch a movie – almost like a date night in London :-).
For me, with Henrik, less is more when it comes to planned activities and we kept it simple and with not too many points on the travel agenda, we also mostly stayed in the same two areas of the city. So there’s still a whole list of what I would want to show him in London, but I’m sure we’ll get to that on a future London trip.