One of the highlights of my parent’s summer trip to Sweden included a side trip to London. It is always difficult to know which area of London is best to make one’s home base but after looking at maps of the city and revisiting our previous trips there, we settled on the Marble Arch area which, if you are looking at a map, is in the region around the upper right corner of Hyde Park. I figured we should be in the middle of everything and it seemed to be a good, central location for taking taxis here and there.
We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon and left the following Friday afternoon. What did we do with 2 whole days and 2 half days in London? As much as possible! Our first evening we took it easy and went out for a traditional fish & chips dinner at The Seashell of Lisson Grove, recommended by my Mom’s friend back in Houston. She had lived in London for 10 years and said it was the best place for fish & chips. Without having been to the other top-voted places for fish & chips, I can definitely vouch for The Seashell. Not only did they serve an excellent fish & chips but the steamed mussels were first class, as were the fish cakes.
Fish & Chips – check!
Day 2 was our biggest and busiest day. It began with breakfast at The Riding House Cafe and continued with a bus & boat tour of London to capture the highlights of the city: Big Ben and the House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, The Tower of London, and other famous sites. The tour itself was nice, though the set up was not ideal for someone wheelchair-bound. For much of the first part of the tour, my Dad sat backward (so that his wheelchair could be strapped in) and being forced to be on the first level of the bus he did not get the best views.
Finally at one stop I pleaded with the bus driver to allow us to turn him around. It was better after that though there were still obstructions to his view. In addition, I should point out that only a handful of the buses on this tour’s routes were wheelchair accessible compared with the buses of another local touring company, which were all wheelchair accessible. So do your research and do not be quick to book a tour at your hotel thinking it will save you time. All of the tours are efficiently set up to take payment at the hop on hop off stops. The tour turned out to take longer than anticipated, due to the high volume of summer tourists (us included) and heavy traffic, but we made it back to the starting point in the nick of time to hop in cabs and just make it to dinner and the theater. Yes, we went to the theater!
To make things easier, my husband and I split up, he with my Dad and me with my Mom, and took separate cabs to Bill’s Restaurant, which was located just a short walk from our theater. He and my Dad left first but somehow my Mom and I arrived first to the restaurant. Our waiter was very accommodating with our time restriction and we were fed a lovely meal and were at the theater in plenty of time to be seated and relax a bit before the start of our show. A friend of mine recommended, “Beautiful, The Carole King Musical,” and it was the perfect choice. The performers were fantastic and I was pleasantly surprised to discover how much of her music and songs that I recognized. If you are planning a trip to London I highly recommend this show!
On to Day 3, we opted to skip breakfast out and I picked up coffees and a light breakfast at a local cafe which we enjoyed in our hotel room. We were headed to Borough Market and from past experiences I knew we would want to be hungry so that we could sample the vast array of foods and sweets that spread across the stalls. We also lucked out and got to see our god daughter and her Mum who came up from Brighton to meet us at the market. They were headed to a couple of museums after meeting us.
Where were we headed? Harrods! The boys were obviously excited about this stop. Okay, maybe not, but we were in and out in a flash and back at our hotel for a short rest before heading out for our favorite dinner of the trip: A trendy and hip-looking place called Roti Chai, just a hop, skip, and a jump from our hotel. It was so amazing. We all loved it, especially my Mom and Dad. I had no idea that they were such fans of Indian cuisine.
On our final day in London, we decided to take it easy, sleep in, and eat a leisurely breakfast before heading to the airport to return to Stockholm. Our restaurant of choice was a cute little place I found around the corner from our hotel called The Grazing Goat. It was actually a hotel and restaurant and it was so cute and refreshing that I made a note of it in my travel book for future visits to London. It will definitely be on the top of my list for our next hotel stay. After breakfast we slowly meandered back to the hotel, taking some time to explore the surrounding streets. We just happened upon a memorial to a Swedish man named Raul Wallenberg who famously saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during WWII. What an amazingly courageous and brave man. Finding this memorial felt like the perfect ending to our London visit.
Overall, I would say that we faired very well in London. If you have never been, London is a vast city and spending just a few days there is barely enough to even get a taste of what it’s like. My parents enjoyed seeing all of the iconic sights and getting a feel for the city but they said they prefer the quaint feel of Stockholm. The hustling, bustling quality of London and the millions of people rushing about was a little too much for their country mouse taste.
I personally love London and England and I can’t wait to go back. I am already developing favorite places that are a must-return to:
- Borough Market
- Mildred’s Restaurant (vegetarian – not visited this time around)
- Nopi (also not visited this time but a truly amazing dining experience)
- Tate Modern
- Basketmakers Arms (in Brighton, by the sea)
- Brighton (home of our lovely god daughter and her lovely mum and dad)
Places I haven’t been that I would like to visit:
- Courtauld Gallery
- Camden Markets
- Petersham Nurseries
- Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson of London
- Brick Lane
- Grain Store
- Hoxton Street Monster Supplies