After picking up our very important visitor we hopped back on the train and headed from Gatwick Airport to Waterloo Station (had to change trains once). Because of some train delays we ended up on a very crowded train headed into London, but thanks to my expert packing Mike and Michael easily handled the bags (read all about it here), while my mother-in-law and I wrangled the girls. I think the boys had the easier job.
Once we arrived at Waterloo Station, we walked less than 10 minutes to our hotel Park Plaza Westminster (I will have a review in another post). We checked in and had a relaxing first night.
For this trip, I decided to purchase the London Pass so that we could easily go from attraction to attraction without worrying about standing in line to buy tickets. I wanted everything pre-paid and already had an itinerary mapped out with the least amount of travel time between each location we visited.The London Pass was £483 adults and 3 children. I found a discount code online and saved £48.30 for a total of £434.70. We did not purchase the Oyster Travel Card, because with 6 people it is easier to just take a cab over the tube or a bus. Also, I planned the itinerary to minimize any cabs we would have to take. I’ll mention any cab rides and cost that they were during my trip report.
Our first morning had us hopping in a taxi and headed to the Tower of London (Taxi ride £16 +tip). Although we didn’t arrive super early, we were there about 11 am and the lines to get in were nonexistent so we didn’t have the opportunity to use the Fast Track Entry feature of the London Pass. As we were walking in, a nice lady at the gate told us to head straight to the Crown Jewels to miss the line, so that is what we did. We entered the line at the doorway to the exhibit and when we exited about 45 minutes later the entire outside queue was full. I think we just narrowly missed a very long wait!
I loved visiting the Tower of London. I visited it when I was on my high school graduation trip, but as most teenagers, I really didn’t appreciate the experience as much as I should have. I was so glad to be able to show the kids this exciting place. Hopefully they will appreciate it more than I did. Now they have seen the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Queens Crown Jewels.
We continued to explore the grounds which were breathtaking and then decided to head over to the Tower Bridge Experience which is just outside the Tower of London.
The Tower Bridge Experience was so much fun for the kids! There are a lot of stairs, but if you need one there is an elevator to the top if you need to skip the huge flights of stairs. Once on top we explored the two sides of the bridge. The kids loved the glass floors. After plenty of selfies we headed back down to visit the Engine Rooms which are located at base of the bridge. Mike really enjoyed this section and explained the mechanics so well to Michael that the Guide in the room said he should be hired. But alas, I don’t think the Royal Navy or the US Coast Guard will agree to let Mike quit his day job in order to be a guide in the Engine Room.
We had a late lunch at a Wetherspoon’s pub right down from the bridge and it was delicious and affordable.
With the London Pass we were allowed a boat trip on the Thames River. So we hopped aboard the next trip and enjoyed a leisurely boat ride back down the river to Westminster Bridge, where we got off and headed back to our hotel for the evening.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get very many good pictures from our seats. The person in front of us stood up constantly. A good tip is to arrive as early as possible prior to the boat departure in order to have a front seat. But it was still a lot of fun!
London Pass Tally:
- Tower of London- Adult: £22 Child: £10 *Fast Track Entry Available
- Tower Bridge Experience- Adult: £9 Child: £3.90 *Fast Track Entry Available
- River Cruise on Thames- Adult: £18 Child: £9
- Total Tickets for the day would have equaled: £215.70
- Transportation Cost: £16 +tip
So far we are doing good with value of the London Pass for Day 1. Will it continue?