London, England: Part Two – Tips and Photos of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, & the London Eye

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One of my favorite photos from our trip: Big Ben and a red double-decker bus which I took while riding on the top of a double-decker bus.

One of my favorite photos from our trip: Big Ben and a red double-decker bus which I took while riding on the top of a double-decker bus.  A must-see at least once in your lifetime!

I am finally continuing with my London posts. It has been a very busy time for us as we were moving to a little bigger place the last couple of days. Mia has her own bedroom now, so she was very happy to unpack her toys that have been in storage. She also started her first day of 1st grade today and had a great day which was a big relief for us! I couldn’t sleep last night and was so nervous for her, but it all turned out fine and we are very happy with her new teacher!

This is post number two in a three-part series from our recent adventure in London, England. In this post, I will feature Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, & the London Eye. All but Westminster Abbey have an amazing view along the Thames River and were a short walk from our hotel.

Continuing from my last post, this is London Tip #5: The Golden Jubilee Bridge that is right next to Big Ben and the one you cross over to get to the London Eye gets unbelievably crowded! However, you can get some of the best photos in this area, so you may want to visit it earlier in the day or right before sunset to avoid a million people in your photos with you!

Big Ben has to be one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It was so impressive to see in person and reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Hook. It is one of those places when you see it for the first time in real life, you just say “Wow, that is amazing!” Here are a few photos of Big Ben & The Palace of Westminster (click on photos for a larger image):

For more information about touring the Houses of Parliament, please visit: Houses of Parliament Please note: Only permanent UK residents are allowed to tour Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben.

Westminster Abbey was my favorite place that we toured while in London. This is certainly worth the price of admission and has many surprises inside! It is not just an old gothic church, but a place filled with rich history (founded in 960) and also has an impressive collection of artwork.  It is the coronation church and also the final resting place and memorial site of many significant people.  King Edward’s Chair, the throne which is used for coronations is also housed here.

London Tip #6:  Do not pass up touring the inside of Westminster Abbey! If you only have one day, I would suggest taking the time to tour this church.  Also, do not be intimidated by the line to get it.  It moved very quickly for us and was worth the 20-30 minutes we waited in line. I would also recommend the Cellarium Cafe which is perfect for a nice break with afternoon tea and light snacks.

Here are a few photos from Westminster Abbey (please note: photography and filming are not allowed while you are touring the inside of the Abbey):

The beautiful entrance to Westminster Abbey.

The beautiful entrance to Westminster Abbey.

For more information about touring Westminster Abbey, please visit:  Westminster Abbey

The London Eye was within walking distance to where we stayed and was of course one of those things in London that you just have to do! It is located in the South Bank right along the Thames River. We were able to see so much of London from the top and you get to see out for a distance of about 25 miles from the top. The views from the London Eye are absolutely breathtaking and was definitely something that we are glad that we were able to experience. I would love to experience it at night the next time we visit as I am sure it would be very beautiful with all of the city lights on.

Here are a few photos from our experience on the London Eye:

The London Eye and the Thames River.

The London Eye and the Thames River.

Mia and I having fun on the London Eye!

Mia and I having fun on the London Eye!

The amazing view from the London  Eye!

The amazing view from the London Eye!

Mia enjoying the London Eye!

Mia enjoying the London Eye!

For more information about the London Eye, please visit: London Eye

You can read part 1 of this series at the following link: London Part 1

London, England: Part One – Tips and Photos of Buckingham Palace, Hamleys and Madame Tussauds

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Mia and I in front of Buckingham Palace!

Mia and I in front of Buckingham Palace!

As a girl who loves to take photos, I was totally in awe with London!   Everywhere I turned, there was something that I wanted to take a photo of.  I guess that’s why I ended up taking over 400 photos in 4 days!  Our family really enjoyed our first visit to London together, and I will be making three posts to cover our adventure.  I will try to include around 20-30 photos for each posting which should cover a lot of the London sights that you can accomplish if you plan a 3-4 day trip there (we scheduled 4 full days in London and 1 half day for travel).  There are so many other places that we did not explore during our first trip, but I believe another 3-4 days should cover most of the other places that we would like to see.  I will also include a few helpful tips that we learned along the way.  We are very happy that the flight from Helsinki is only around 2.5 hours and will hopefully bring us to London again while we are living in Europe!

London Tip #1:  If you want to see as many sights as possible, I would suggest seeing them via one of the classic double-decker red buses.  May not be the cheapest way to get around, but it was something you should do at least once in your life and certainly a lot of fun for our daughter!  We were able to hop-on and off at many of the top sights and take us much time as we wanted at each location. Ours also included a Thames River Cruise which we did not have time to do.  The night before our trip, we booked The Original Tour and were quite happy with their services.

London Tip #2: Book the additional 24 hours at the time of purchase for only 7 or 8 additional pounds (not sure the exact amount that they quoted us when we picked up our tickets).  We didn’t do this, but really wish that we had since we were not able to accomplish all of the sights in the 24 hour time for our tickets and this would have been much cheaper than taxis and a lot less exhausting than all the walking we did!  We are still learning to get around via public transportation as well and were not brave enough yet to try it in London.  The yellow line provided you with a live English commentary guide and the red line offered you headsets to listen to the commentary and also provided a channel for kids.  However, we did notice that there seemed to be more of the Big Bus Tour buses running and therefore may enable you to see more sights if you are restricted on time.

London Tip #3: Bring cash if you need to take a taxi!!!  We noticed that it was much harder to find a taxi that would accept credit cards.  Therefore, bring cash (pounds) just in case you need it!

Our visit to Buckingham Palace and The Changing of The Guard (click on photos for a larger view):

For more information on Buckingham Palace and tours, please visit: Buckingham Palace

A historic toy shop that has been around since 1780 (over 250 years) in London is Hamleys. Thanks to a tip from my friend Kim, Mia had a lot of fun visiting Hamleys and we were all exhausted after visiting all seven floors of this mega toy shop!

It's A Boy! The future King arrived the same week we were in London!

It’s A Boy! The future King arrived the same week we were in London!

This was our first visit to a Madame Tussauds. Wow, what a cool place to visit in London!! We really enjoyed this attraction and were very impressed with their wax figures and many were specific to England including the Royal Family. This was one of Mia’s favorite parts of the trip since she is a big superhero fan. Included with our tickets was an amazing 4D Marvel Superheroes Movie at the end of the attraction!

Our family with Queen Elizabeth II  and Prince Philip!

Our family with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip!

London Tip #4: Expect to wait in line for a long time (one to two hours) during the summer when visiting Madame Tussauds! I would definitely consider purchasing their priority access tickets (click on the link above) for this attraction if you are pressed for time!

We can now cross our first Europe Red Pin Adventure outside of Finland off our list!

London, England
I would love to hear your comments and more London tips for our next adventure there!

You can read part 2 of this series at the following link: London Part Two