Martin finally took his paternity leave a few weeks ago and, during a rare break between visitors, we snuck off to London for a few days. Well, we snuck as much as possible considering a pooping, crying, smiling, hungry creature is constantly attached to us.
Martin had been invited to put on a coaching/training seminar with a rugby twist by English Ruby Union at the famous Twickenham stadium and we figured it was a great opportunity to test out our travel abilities with Reese. We flew out Tuesday morning and returned late Friday and, all in all, it was a great trip.
Our first hitch was the appropriate ticketing for Reese, but luckily we left enough time at the airport to clear that up (and pay the 10% lap infant ticket fee, which I was unaware of). We eventually breezed through security with Reese napping in the Ergo and had just enough time for a side-trip to Starbucks.
The flight itself was relatively uneventful. Reese drank a bottle during the take-off and her ears were fine. Shortly thereafter she earned her nickname as the #internationalbabeofblowout (thanks Uncle Kipp!) and luckily I was prepared for it to happen at least once mid-flight. After one wardrobe change she was back in my lap and napping again for the rest of the flight. My favorite was that I had to take her out of the secure Ergo to put the infant lap belt around her waist. A lot of help that belt would be if the plane was going down, even if more fully tightened!
After gathering our luggage and the stroller at Heathrow, we made the tube trip into the city. We had booked a stay at our favorite hotel in London, The Pelham in South Kensington, and after hauling all our stuff in the rain and humid underground tunnels, we were ready for a quick clean-up on arrival. We’re very lucky to have the public transportation we have in Zürich. While totally manageable with two people, trekking around London on the tube with a baby involves a lot of hauling the stroller up/down the rabbit warrens of stairs. Strangers were generous in offering to help, which was very nice, but I cannot really imagine having to navigate around so much on my own and it certainly wouldn’t be as easy as it is in Zürich.
Over the next few days we enjoyed the holiday lights and shopping (including Reese’s first trip to Anthropologie), and delicious food options. We made several visits to Dishoom, a wonderful Bombay-style Indian restaurant, and a return visit to Ottolenghi. Reese was surprisingly well-behaved while we ate out and charmed her way into the hearts of wait staff and strangers alike, sometimes resulting in faster priority seating and even free drinks. It was not uncommon to hear an, “Ahhh” or “Oohhh,” as we passed by on the street which made the trip a little more fun.
While Martin was off to his seminar, Reese and I enjoyed some holiday drinks and visited the Victoria & Albert Museum. I was extremely thrilled to find eggnog lattes at Starbucks (the Swiss holiday selection doesn’t include them) and so I had to drink a few throughout the visit. While we unfortunately missed the Indian textile exhibit the V&A as it was sold out for the evening, we enjoyed browsing some of the classic exhibits and the museum shop. The lighted sculpture below was part of their presentation around Dishwali.
The next afternoon we headed north of London to the Warner Brothers Studio for the Harry Potter Studio Tour. One of Martin’s coworkers, another avid Harry Potter fan, had done the tour a few months earlier and I was excited to see Hogwarts’ Great Hall decorated for Christmas. The tour was fascinating! I think it could even be enjoyed by a non-fan as it gave so much insight into the processes of set and prop design and film-making. It was unbelievable how much thought, creativity, and hours of labor by several thousand people went into making the set and prop pieces, especially those that really functioned mechanically (and not just through digital film-making magic). There was so much to see and read that I could probably visit again and learn even more. We even had a family photo in front of our first home, I mean, No. 4 Privet Drive.
Our last day in London was spent doing a bit more shopping, exploring Covent Garden, and utilizing our well-developed coffee drinking skills to insure we always had a cozy spot to feed Reese. She traveled like a champ, and kept us on our toes with some loud cries on packed tube trips and a few more blowouts. I can say that when in needed, a panicked looking mother and crying baby will gain you access to the London Transport Museum‘s cafe bathroom, and that the nice changing room assistant at Harrods makes up for having to use the wet and dirty counter of the North Watford train station ladies bathroom in an emergency.
All in all, the trip was a great late fall getaway and we’re already planning on how to get back for more meals at Dishoom and hours browsing Foyle’s book shop.
- stay // The Pelham Hotel
– We enjoyed our visit as much as the first. The staff is friendly and
it was nice to be able to leave the stroller with the concierge each
evening instead of taking upstairs. Our last night, when the water in
our room was only scalding hot, we were upgraded to an even better room
with a view and a walk-in closet Reese could have to herself.
- eat & drink // Dishoom (*visit as soon as possible*), Ottolenghi
(delicious, again), Muriel’s Kitchen (always great for breakfast), Borough Market (good fish & chips and excellent fudge), Amelia Rope Chololate (our new favorite London chocolate).
- shop // Liberty (We toured their Christmas room and bought some fabric from a
salesman who performed his job similar to Rowan Atkinson from Love Actually.), Harrods (always impressive), Skandium, The Conran Shop, Lululemon (yay!), Fortnum & Mason (seriously amazing wooden Advent calendars this year), Foyle’s, The Cambridge Satchel Company, Harvey Nichols.
- visit // WB Harry Potter Studio Tour – Well worth the trip, including the audio guide and souvenir book. Make sure and enjoy a butter beer while there.
All these favorites, and many others, can be found on my London Google map.