Updated: Jun 2, 2018
Benjamin was especially excited to land in London, and he has a special place in his heart for his future home. He has already decided that London will be a place he will reside in his adult future! I was excited to find a warm and thoughtful gift from my lovely boyfriend waiting for me in my flat. I would like to will write a post about long distance relationships in the future, but here is a little sneak preview into the ways we keep the time away fun!
Our first day in London was "Benjamin Day". We began with a stop at a highly rated Ramen restaurant on the way to "Ripley's Believe it or Not" Museum. Unfortunately, Benjamin had a large, very heavy wood menu dropped on his head right before I took a picture for the "day of Benjamin" kickoff. EEEK. Travel problems: we have to bounce back from them, some are big, some are small.
Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum was six levels of 8-year old fun! Here are a few of the highlights: Benjamin met the heaviest man on earth.
I tried out a chastity belt. Sorry honey, you are going to have to trust me instead!
We wandered through a mirror maze.
Benjamin loved the laser room so much, he attempted it twice. I definitely slowed him down. He cleared the room in 14 seconds with me!
We spent the afternoon wandering the neighborhood and came upon Chinatown and the Royal Opera Arcade. The arcade was lined with vintage and estate jewelry shops with the most brilliant windows! I strode very slowly through the arcade. I think I will return with breakfast like Audrey Hepburn did to Tiffany's.
Our next full day in London we spent at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I was overwhelmed by the austerity of the space. Massive Greek columns and entire churches have been reconstructed inside of the this museum. My favorite highlights include the Undressed exhibit: a history of underwear, the jewelry exhibit (oh the diamonds) and the miniature portraits. I realize that we experienced 10% of the museum, and it was amazing!
During our travels, we have been lucky to meet up with some of our friends from home and London was no exception. I noticed on Facebook that a friend of mine, Hardy, who was in Paris and on his way to London working on a new photography project. I messaged him, and quickly we were having a little aperitif at Harrods.
The next day, we continued our British invasion to see Big Ben. Little Ben said hello to Big Ben before we made our way to Winston Churchill's underground bunker from which he ran the war. Perfectly preserved and rich in information, Benjamin loved this part of our day! It built up a huge appetite for fish and chips.
On our way home, a rainy sidewalk inspired me for my next travel painting. The rain and shadows were a challenge!
The Tower of London was next on our tour and we crossed Tower Bridge to see it. Benjamin made a new friend and loved the Crown Jewels so much, we went through the exhibit twice! Like mother, like son, sparkles are the best!
One of my favorite stops in any city is the local market. Clothing, fruit or antiques are such a fun way to get to know a town's culture and the locals. Benjamin and I visited the Piccadilly market and Spitalfields market. They both held fantastic finds and adventures for us!
A highlight of our trip so far for the both of us was an early evening tea at The Savoy Hotel. The beauty of this hotel in the opalescent Art Deco style was so inspiring and welcoming. The service at this hotel was so outstanding, Benjamin left an extra tip! I must stay at this magnificent hotel on my next trip to London!
We said goodbye to London and hopped a train to York for our next stop. I can only describe this ancient walled city as magical. If you have the opportunity to visit York near the Christmas season, please do so! It glows day or night and the locals are so kind and welcoming too!
We visited the York Minster, a huge Abbey that has been a holy site since the the town belonged to the Roman Empire. They had a great "Little Explorer" Program designed for kids and Benjamin took to it in true style.
We loved to wander around York, armed with hot chocolates from Costa Coffee of course!
We stopped to have tea at the world famous Betty's before we had to say goodbye to this magical town!
Next we were off to Edinburgh, Scotland. This northern town is built in mostly gothic architecture, and is at the top of a hill. Brrrr, that wind is cold! We visited Edinburgh Castle and walked the Royal Mile - the same street Scottish kings would walk after their coronation at the castle.
Edinburgh is also home to the Royal Yacht, HMY Brittania. It is now permanently docked and the tour is fascinating! We learned so much about the current monarch, Her Majesty, The Queen.
Our final stop in the United Kingdom was Liverpool. We started with a visit to the Maritime and Slavery museums to learn more about the history of Liverpool as a major port and the history of slavery around the world.
We had one last evening in London before we boarded the Eurostar to Paris so we spent it at a fantastic dinner and did a little holiday shopping!