Five things you must experience in London

5things-150x1501Just over four months from now, Torri and I will be embarking on a mother/daughter trip across the pond in celebration of her high school graduation.  We’re both beside ourselves with excitement; the itinerary for our trip is chock-full of life list must dos.  Given the catalog of Adventures by Disney trips to choose from, Torri settled on the Cities of Knights and Lights itinerary with very little indecision.  Because Adventures by Disney has already done most of the planning for us, I’m left with but a few days on either side of the trip to schedule.  Anybody who knows me well, though, knows that I don’t take this responsibility lightly.  If we’re going across the pond, by golly we are going across the pond.  To that end, I’ve been piecing together a list of experiences we simply must live out.  I’m not talking about bullet items like, “see the changing of the guards.”  Not that seeing the changing of the guards is ho-hum by any means, but a) it’s already part of our Disney itinerary and b) my list is meant to read more like a juicy novel.  To make my list, the item must be more than a simple snapshot or a check the block; it must be an experience.  It must leave us salivating for a specific taste or leave our skin tingling with the buzz of anticipation.  With those guidelines in mind, take a look at five of the things I’ve come up with so far and let me know what you think.  Note that this list focuses on the early part of our trip in London; I hope to share my part duex (Paris!) sometime soon.  Also?  If you’ve made the trip yourself, I’d love input.

1. Savor fresh-from-the-oven scones and clotted cream at afternoon tea – It’s a girls trip; you had to know we’d take tea.  When she was a wee little thing, Torri used to dress in her Cinderella gown and serve tea from her dainty plastic cups.  While something tells me she won’t be rocking the Cinderella look this go ’round, taking afternoon tea with her in one of London’s renowned tea rooms is sure to be an insanely delightful full-circle experience for both of us.

2. Find the perfect souvenir during an afternoon of shopping Oxford Street – Neither of us are the shop-till-you-drop types, but we simply cannot go to London and skip the shopping, especially considering we’re leaving four loved ones at home.  Whether it’s marmalade for my mom or a double-decker red bus toy for Jayce, we won’t leave without the perfect something for everyone.

3. Descend underground for a ride on the tube – While not all Americans view public transportation as a novelty, for those of us that hail from the West, a subway ride is pretty cool.  And London’s tube isn’t just any subway; there is a whole bar themed after it aboard the Disney Fantasy!  Torri and I will most definitely sit knee-to-knee (or stand bracing ourselves by the poles, as the case may be) on London’s infamous tube.  And yes, we’ll mind the gap. ;)

4. Immerse ourselves in the buzz of live theatre – As of yet, I’m undecided as to whether we should take in a West End production, or make like a groundling in the early 17th century by visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.  Whichever route we take, I’m sure that seeing a show in London will be something that neither of us soon forget.

5. Delight our taste buds sampling gastropub favorites – Topping my personal foodie wish list are traditional fish and chips served in newspaper and the sticky toffee pudding I’ve heard so much about.  And while I know they’re traditional, you can bet I’ll be skipping things like ox tongue, or steak and kidney pudding.  Ew!

What do you think?  What would you add (or subtract) from my list?  Have I captured the quintessential London experience?  Inquiring minds…

7 Replies to “Five things you must experience in London”

  1. Not sure where you are having tea or if you have decided, but we had tea at Kensington Palace. I was always a huge Princess Diana fan growing up (in fact, my childhood dream was to design a dress for her to wear), so having tea in the very palace she called home was pretty cool! And the clotted cream was delicious and always wishing I could find it here in the states. I would recommend seeing something in the Globe. I haven’t had the opportunity, but definitely want to the next time I go. The West End is so similar to Broadway, whereas the Globe is like no other place for theater! I can’t wait to hear about your Paris must-dos! Cheerio!

    1. I think we’ve decided to tour the Globe but see a Broadway style show. The open air-ness of the Globe scares me because we’ll likely already be freezing our Arizona-accustomed patooties off!

  2. Well, you know I have a slew of suggestions for you and was going to email, but I know all bloggers like comments, so I will leave a few here. :-)

    Sticky Toffee Pudding – a must! Otherwise, traditional food in London, meh. Except for this place in Eton….I have to look up the name for you. Go there if you have a free lunch or dinner when you visit Windsor Castle, it’s walkable from the castle and not a tourist trap like the eateries at the foot of the castle. They have Eton Mess as a dessert! I had seen Nigella Lawson make it on her Food Network show and always wanted to try it and I did in the town of it’s birth! That was awesome.

    Fish and Chips are okay. But they really don’t season well.

    Shopping – if you are nearby, go to my FAVORITE STORE EVER, Allsaints. It’s such a gorgeous store, just a sight to look at. I was in there for 2 hours and didn’t buy a thing, just gawking. Also, there s a cool area near Covent Gardens called Seven Dials with boutiques and vintage stores. So cool that we got caught up and missed our Eurostar train to Paris!

    The tube is awesome and my favorite subway. It’s clean and fast.

    Afternoon tea is A MUST and I was going to suggest this to you. A splurge for sure, but worth it and since there are just two of you, now is the time to splurge! It was the one “big thing” we did in London (remember there were four of us…it cost a fortune, but worth every pound). We go to tea here in Atlanta and always when we travel to NYC, but having tea in London was just beyond. My daughter still talks about it. *I was going to write more and give you details, but this was getting long – I will save it for the email ;-)

    1. Giving credit where credit is due, here: you are a lifesaver. I don’t know how I could plan this trip without your priceless advice!

  3. Darcy, I’m so excited for you and your daughter! I take each of my daughters to London/England (and did a side trip to Paris one time) when they turn 16, so my youngest and I will be going in 2014. These trips have been so special for all of us, and I feel so incredibly grateful to be able to do this. Really, mother/daughter trips, no matter where you go, are amazing.

    Now, that said, I’ve been to England six times (no, I don’t have seven daughters!), and I have no intention of stopping now. It is a beautiful country, and I still have lots to explore. :)

    The tea place at Kensington Palace that your first commenter referred to is called The Orangerie. It is much less expensive than Harrods or the Ritz, and it is just lovely. Plus, I’ve heard that William and Kate are planning to move into Kensington Palace sometime next year (this year?), so why not show your daughter where they’re going to live? :) (Kensington is one of my favorite neighborhoods in London–lots of fun to just wander and explore.)

    Sticky toffee pudding–YES!! My absolute favorite dessert in London.

    Since you mentioned Oxford Street, which, to me, is really crowded and really commercialized, I thought I’d suggest an alternative just off Oxford Street. It’s called St. Christopher’s Place and is a little street of smaller shops that is really fun to explore. In fact, on one mother/daughter trip, a woman told us about it, so we found it and loved it. Here’s a website that will tell you how to find it (it’s kind of hard to find):

    Every trip to London, for me, HAS to include a trip to Borough Market. It’s a food market not far from the Globe that is AMAZING. If you’re into photography, you’ll get some great shots there.

    I’ll stop now. Email me if you want more! :)

    1. Oh, my dear Shelly. I’m afraid you’ve exposed your knowledge and there is to be no going back now. *Especially* considering that you’ve opened yourself by offering advice. You can bet I’ll be taking you up on that! Already, you’ve swayed me from Oxford Street over to St. Christopher’s Place. That is precisely the information I was hoping experienced travelers like yourself would provide. Thank you! Expect an email from me, too!

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