If you are following along, yesterday we visited the Tower of London on our first British outing with the kids. At the end of the day, we tried queuing to have the kids’ pictures taken with the Harry Potter shopping trolley but quickly abandoned it after about 15 minutes because it didn’t seem like the line was moving. We had this fab idea that we’d return really early the next morning and quickly take a picture when the station was quiet and there was no line. HA! How wrong we were!
We managed to leave the house a bit earlier since we knew the departure times and transferred onto the tube, patting ourselves on the back smugly for being so together. When we arrived at King’s cross, we rounded the corner only to be confronted with an even MORE GIGANTIC line than the previous day. WTH. I got in the queue with the kids, determined to get them some stinky photos. J and Lulu went to sit on some nearby benches. We noticed that the girl and another family in front of us were speaking in very North American accents and asked them where they were from. Turned out the girl was from Vancouver and at the end of a 6 week travels around Europe and the family was from Toronto. I may have asked the Monkey repeatedly if he REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted a picture.
After 90 minutes of queuing, we finally made it up to the front of the line. Seriously, I thought that the line was overly bloated because parents were also in line and surely they wouldn’t be taking photos too. But turns out, all the PARENTS were taking photos too and the Harry Potter employees were having people take a posed photo plus a “jumping” photo to simulate jumping into the wall PLUS group photos. GAH! No wonder this was taking ages!!
After the kids got their obligatory photos (we ended up only paying for 1 because thank goodness you are allowed to take your own photos and my camera takes awesome photos!!), I ended up having the stand in a queue to PAY for the photo for another 30 minutes. Beware, the Harry Potter shop is very small and there are so many people in there fondling Harry Potter related items and it is all fairly pricey! The Hermione wands that the kids got were £26 each and I kept thinking, Can’t we just order these from Amazon? Loads of people in the queue with me had ALSO come the day before and had left due to the queues and returned the next morning thinking we’d have a shorter line. So, just know, you are in for a long WAIT if you decide to come to King’s Cross.
After spending two hours at King’s Cross, we quickly headed toward the Museum of Natural History taking the tube. We had hoped for an early start close to opening time (10am) since that had worked in our favour at the Tower of London. But with the Harry Potter detour, we didn’t arrive then until around 12:30 to a long line that wrapped around to the tube station. Luckily, we packed a sandwich and pringles lunch, and had our lunch in the queue. We chatted with an American family from Orlando, Florida, queuing in front of us and were thankful that we were waiting in semi-cloudy 65 degree temps instead of the harsh 90+ degree sunshine of Orlando!!
The line moved quickly and after about 20 minutes, we got up to the top of the queue. There is no admission to get into the Museum but the queue was bogged down because security had to check everyone’s bags. Once we were in, we paid £1 each for 3 maps of the museum and set off – riding UP the escalator into the heart of the planet only to realize that wasn’t the way we wanted to go at all because the Puppy wanted to start with the dinosaurs.
We figured our way back down and then J decided we should take a potty break and also wanted to buy a cup of coffee. This all contributed to the Puppy slowly getting more and more frustrated and upset that we were just WASTING TIME. Although J was unhelpful and didn’t really seem to see the Puppy’s problem, I could empathize because I frequently feel the same thing – FRUSTRATED – that people are moving to their own drums and can’t mobilize faster. See below? See how the Puppy is now fully avoiding being in photos because he is SO ANGRY. Can’t wait for those preteen years. Getting better and better! Missing those terrible twos.
After all that map studying, the kids figured out where the dinosaur exhibit was in relation to us. The red pen swirls on one end of the map were confusingly NOT where we entered. So, we set off towards the main entrance, moving quickly through the birds and mammals area, passing an amazing exhibit of fossils that J was annoyed to pass so quickly, and past the museum shop. I really loved this amazing case filled with tiny humming birds and other tiny birds. It was beautiful although I thought, What a shame that they killed so many birds for this display.
We finally made it into the main entrance lobby which held a giant diplodocus skeleton. I love viewing old buildings and the entrance lobby did not disappoint. I made me think of Night of the Museum and scenes from Paddington Bear.
We stopped for a few photos and moved onto the dinosaur exhibit was was interesting but PACKED with people as we were now at the peak of the tourists. We just sort of shuffled along and tried to look at things. It was a dimly lit exhibit that wound around back and forth. The children really enjoyed watching a large animatronic T-Rex and touching a lot of the bone replicas. I think this is their first dinosaur exhibit and the Puppy finally calmed down now that he was able to see all the dinosaurs that we had promised.
We made a pit stop at the gift shop (one of several in the museum) to look for dinosaur related items for the Puppy to spend his souvenir monies on. Then we moved on to see the whales and mammals exhibit because I wanted to see the large blue whale skeleton.
By now, it was getting close to 4pm and we still wanted to see Buckingham Palace and Big Ben before we headed home. So, we made one last stop at the main museum shop for Lulu to get something special and headed back out. We definitely didn’t get enough time to see everything in the museum and we heard from a friend that we missed a really cool earthquake simulator in a different area of the museum. The double Harry Potter visit really cost us some time, but what can you do?
So, we left the way we came, and went back on the tube headed for Piccadilly Circle, getting off a couple stops early at the Green Park stop because I heard the announcement call for Buckingham Palace. We walked through Green Park where people were leisurely laying and having picnics on the lawn. There were signs that said you could rent lawn chairs. We passed through a wooded area and could see the Palace ahead.
We stopped for some obligatory photos, but one of the kids started dancing the dreaded pee dance. So, while J bought hotdogs for the kids, I took the dancing kid in search of a discreet bush or tree to do the business. It turned out to be hilarious because we saw a policeman come walking up one of the walkways and I told the dancing kid to keep a low profile and wait until the officer passed. But then it took ages, because the officer was ducking down himself and trying to watch something on the other side of the fence/hedge. After the officer gave some tourists directions, he finally moved along and the dancing kid was able to relieve himself to everyone’s great relief.
We headed back to find the others and started walking towards Big Ben and the Thames making our way across St James Park.
We made it to the river Thames and took some photos with Red Phone booths, Big Ben, Double Decker buses, and the London Eye.
It was getting close to 6pm and the kids had tired feet. I saw a sign for the Waterloo station (which was the last stop for the train we took into London). So, I knew we could probably catch a train back. That train station was SO BUSY, but we found the correct train (sort of! It didn’t actually stop at our stop – so we had to get off at the Putney Station and wait for the next train which did stop at our stop).
We finally made it home and I declared it a takeaway night! We settled on Indian delivery and it was fabulously delicious!!