It seemed to be a slow start for us today with getting everyone ready to go, making our own breakfast (never a fun time with a fussy eater), and making sure we had a load of washing on (hopefully dry by the afternoon). To get things moving we decided a taxi ride to where we needed to get our evouchers validated would get things moving. We got to the nominated spot only to be turned away because we didn't have the printed evoucher physically with us, note: this is the only time we've needed the physical vouchers. Our choices were to go to head office in Trafalgar Square, back to the hotel, or reprint the voucher from an Internet cafe
. We tried the last option first but the web site doesn't allow for printing of the evouchers. So our next option was to hail a cab to get us to Trafalgar Square, Liam loves the traditional London cabs (4 people in the back with 2 in the middle facing the 2 in the back). We got stuck in traffic when we were nearly there; the cab driver was really good he gave us the option of hoping out and walking as it was only a 10 minute walk whereas it might take him another 20 minutes. Trafalgar Square was really busy with traffic, buses, road works, and people setting up for an out door event; so things were a little hectic. We found the head office only to told we needed to see Flight Centre to get the evoucher as they could not work from the flight centre voucher number. Time to take a deep breath. A Flight Centre office was just a block away. They couldn't or wouldn't help us either. So our choices were either pay for a cab ride back to the hotel and start the day again or just buy new tickets from head office. The latter option seemed to be the quickest since the original tickets had only cost us £40 and we'd blow that in cab rides to the hotel and back anyway. So several hours after starting the day we were on the bus on the top deck driving around London, yippee.
We decided to do the full loop and not use the hop on/hop off option, we got a sample taste of London.
We chose the guided tour with the live guide/comedian rather than the audio guide. We got to see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Westminster abbey, Big Ben, the London Dungeons. We learnt a few things from the bus tour guide - the front of Buckingham Palace was once the back ?????, it was recently decided to rename the tower that houses Big Ben to Elizabeth Tower, the Tower Bridge has only failed to open twice in history once at the silver coronation jubilee, in 4 years Elizabeth II will be the longest reigning English monarch. Charles I ?? II ?? was the only monarch to be executed while he was still king and his execution was at the Tower of London. The London Dungeons seem to be a favoured tourist attraction based on the queues.
Liam's favourite was Big Ben, but no surprises there. Edward had already seen the highlights the day before with his touring team but by foot. I think he would have preferred to have seen them by bus, he's feet are still recovering.
It was a beautiful day and Londoners and tourists were out in force. Crowds and queues were everywhere. Kath was quite thankful that we on the top of the bus and not in the crowds.
After the bus tour we had a very late lunch at Liam's favourite UK eating place, Pizza Express
. This time Liam decided he wanted a full size ham pizza and a serve of garlic dough balls. Cheeky monster nearly got through the lot as well, he couldn't squeeze in the last half slice.
We decided we wanted a better look at Buckingham Palace so the plan was to hop on another tour bus and got off at the palace stop. The tour buses were having problems so one of the bus organizers showed us how we could walk there from Trafalgar Square. So another walk, sorry Liam. Once Kath got her fill of photography we hailed another cab to take us back to the hotel for a quiet afternoon of packing for our next move and next country.
One last activity before we leave England, dinner out with the boys. And just for Liam 2 London cabie rides there and back.
We found the drivers in the traditional cabs (usually black cabs) to be the most helpful and talkative, for each of our rides anyway, and the only ones with local accents. In the UK there are public cabies, such as the London cabs, and private taxis.
Today was our quick tour of London. Since we won't be in London long we thought the best option would be to use the sightseeing tour buses. And with the weather being good to us then the top open deck would definitely be the place for us.