A Long Weekend in London

By Jerry Rodenburg

A Long Weekend in London In April 2019 my wife Sandy and I spent a 4-day sightseeing weekend in London with our daughter, son-in-law, a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old grandchild. We were there on Easter weekend and since the British have Good Friday and Monday as a holiday, London was full of tourists.

The first place we visited was Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. The changing of the guard is at 11 AM and we planned to arrive a half hour earlier. As soon as we started walking up the broad street to the palace, crowds of people were descending on the palace from every direction. We managed to find a spot on a circular memorial in front of the palace where we could see the replacement guards and band marching in and later out. The ceremony lasts about an hour and includes a lot of marching back and forth behind the palace fence. If you want to have a closer look at the ceremony, go earlier and take a spot near the fence.

Jerry and Sandy with Emmett and Madeline in front of Kensington
Palace in London
Next we visited Kensington Palace where Prince William and his family live. Both palaces are surrounded by large beautiful parks which are open to explore and had a very nice childrens playground. Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of Big Bend are close to Buckingham Palace and we walked through that area. I wanted to see Churchills war room which is a bunker next to 10 Downing Street where he directed the war effort during WW 2, but the line was too long.

In a different part of the city we saw the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge looks like a square with an upper and lower deck. The upper deck is for pedestrians and it has a section with a glass bottom. It was scary walking on glass with the Thames River far below but the children loved it. A modern tourist attraction is the London Eye. It looks like a giant Ferris wheel but it turns one revolution every 30 minutes. You sit in a glass enclosed pod, and the view of the Thames River and the London skyline is great as the London Eye revolves.

London is full of museums, and since the British have colonized many parts of the world they have an amazing variety of artifacts. We only visited the British Museum, which provides a handout of the top 10 things to see there. After hearing so much about the importance of the Rosetta stone for understanding hieroglyphics, my top item was seeing the actual carved message on that piece of stone. For Harry Potter fans there is a scene with the 9 platform in the Kings Cross railway station which includes a shopping center with a Harry Potter store. The platform scene looks like people passing through a brick wall, and the Harry Potter fans were waiting in a long line for their turn to act out and photograph their Harry Potter scene.

We arrived by plane at Heathrow airport and took the subway into the city. We were on the Piccadilly line, and my daughter purchased tickets from a vending machine to the subway stop near our hotel. The system requires that you put your subway ticket in at the exit terminal so it is important to purchase the correct zone ticket. They did have an attendant at the ticket vending machine to help. Sometimes we used a London cab, which is configured to transport 6 people with 3 facing backwards. My son-in law had an application on his iPhone to summon a cab much like Uber, but it included the regular London cabs. Near each tourist destination there was cab stand, so if the children got tired a cab was always available.

We had a short but exciting family experience in London observing the pomp and ceremony of the Royals, glimpses of British government and history, the hustle and bustle on the Thames River and some modern attractions like the London Eye and Harry Potter.

At the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace
the new guards march in led by the band.

The Tower Bridge has an elevator to take pedestrians
to the upper deck.

The London Eye is next to the Thames River and one
revolution takes 30 minutes

Our grandchildren looking through the glass bottom walkway
in the Tower bridge to the bottom bridge deck and the
Thames River below.