August was a fun month of more travel! After recovering from our trip to Singapore followed immediately by a family wedding in New Jersey, we had a couple of weeks to prepare for our family trip to London. The main purpose of the trip was to attend Nirav’s childhood friend’s wedding which came at the tail end of our time there. Until then, we had a blast exploring the usual sights of London with our two older daughters (ages 6 and 4). My youngest (age 2) stayed at home in the states with her grandparents.
We did not hit as many tourist spots as we did when my husband and I visited 10 years ago (pre-kids), but we felt like we still made the best use of our time each day. We also enjoyed some pretty beautiful weather! There was not one overcast or rainy day, a delight given the usually gloomy weather of London. This was even more appreciated since our last trip was during the winter of 2012!
Here we are waiting for our plane! The kids were so excited! A word to the wise – if planning a big trip, do not tell your kids about it until the day you leave LOL. I had to unpack whatever my daughter “packed” multiple times over the last year.
Our trip started with a few days in Kensington. We enjoyed dinner with Nirav’s good friend Leon at The Domes at London Secret Garden. It was such a fun and different experience! The food was so tasty and fresh too. Thanks to Uncle Leon for the sweet stuffed animals!
Here we are trekking around the city, visiting Big Ben and the London Eye. We tried to ride the Eye, but it was totally booked! Next time, I recommend booking online ahead of time.
The obligatory telephone booth photo!
We visited Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Park and enjoyed some ice cream. We caught the last bit of the changing of the guards one day. Lunch was at the palace’s café. The curried chicken salad sandwich was delicious!
The following day, we took the train to Nirav’s cousin’s house in Chessington. The kids enjoyed their first train experience! The kids had fun playing with their cousins (twins of the same age, plus another cousin who is 2!) in the gorgeous and quaint backyard of their family’s home. They had fun picking over 30 apples from the apple trees! We enjoyed a delicious lunch outside, and the girl cousins tied rakhi on Nirav to celebrate Raksha Bandhan.
After lunch with our family, we visited Hampton Court Palace which was HUGE, beautiful, and even more interesting to visit than Buckingham Palace in my opinion! My favorite parts were the expansive garden and the palace kitchens!
The next day, we were up bright and early to take the EuroStar high-speed train from London to Paris for one day and one night! We also did this trip 10 years ago. At that time, it was so foggy and cold that Paris was really not enjoyable for us. We could not see the top of the Tour de Eiffel at that time! This time, however, we lucked out with absolutely perfect weather and sunny skies. We made it to the middle section of the tower (the top was closed, boo) and enjoyed the view. We enjoyed a quick lunch while on the tower, then we hopped on a river boat cruise of the Seine. It was so relaxing just to sit and tour on the boat for an hour!
Following our day out in Paris, we returned to our charming little boutique hotel Le Matissia to rest before dinner. We asked the hotel owner for some nearby restaurant recommendations for local Parisian food that were also kid-friendly. He recommended L’Atelier des Soeurs which had the most divine crepes, both savory and sweet! It had an indoor-outdoor vibe with very Parisian décor. It looked out onto a bustling intersection and a beautiful church. After a very heavy but totally worthwhile dinner, we called it an early night so we could be up early for the train back to London.
Our next stop was a few nights’ stay at the phenomenal Corinthia Hotel. The whole purpose of our stay here was to experience their afternoon tea which was done with utmost class and beauty! Even the china is specially made for the hotel. It was so precious to share this experience with the kids, even though we had to threaten them numerous times to behave well beforehand (ha)! If you are looking for a luxury hotel experience, Corinthia cannot be beat. It is by the far the BEST hotel Nirav and I have ever stayed at! They truly think of any and every convenience you could possibly want. We ordered room service one night from the Mediterranean menu, and it was to die for. I even got to enjoy an early morning workout one day in their beautiful gym. I cannot recommend this hotel enough!
During one of our days back in London, we also visited the iconic Harrod’s, known for its luxury shops and breathtaking food halls. We had fun perusing all the beautiful shops, buying speciality chocolates, and enjoying a late afternoon indulgent snack at their cafe.
Finally, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Nirav’s friend’s house, close to where he and Nirav grew up, in Beckton. We joined in for their family’s pre-wedding festivities including a costume party (which they call “fancy dress” in the UK), the vidhi, the mehndi, and finally the beautiful wedding and reception. It was a lovely ceremony and we so enjoyed witnessing Nirav’s friend *finally* getting married! The very next day, we were headed back home to Georgia!
I am looking forward to our next trip back to London with all three kids, possibly in a few years. We hope to explore other parts of the England including Bath, and hopefully venture out to Scotland also. Even though traveling with kids is stressful and exhausting, the wonderful memories made outweigh the stress!