A Travellerspoint blog

United Kingdom

London and Africa

Travelling with my grand-daughter

sunny 26 °C

After my last trip to Africa my Grand daughter said that one day she would love to do a safari and gorilla trek. I suggested that she get a job, (she was 15), save some money and that if she did I would go with her.
And she did.
We made a plan for next year when she graduates, but moved it up a year for various reasons. She has now just turned 17 and we are heading off on an adventure of a lifetime. We had to break up the trip somewhere and Chloe really wanted to see London, (one of my favourite cities), so that is what we are doing.

Here is our itinerary.

June 20, Fly from Vancouver to London arriving on June 21
June 21,22,23 in London
June 24 fly to Nairobi
Safari June 25-July 1

July 3. Fly to Rwanda to gorilla trek in Uganda
July 5 Fly back to Nairobi from Rwanda to connect to our midnight flight to London

July 6,7,8,9 London
July 10 Fly back to Vancouver

London, Day one. June 20th.

It was a very long day. We stayed overnight in Victoria and left at 7:30AM for the 9 ferry to Vancouver. A bus and then skytrain had us at the airport in plenty of time for our 3PM Air Transat flight to Gatwick.

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We were lucky to have the middle seat free on the flight but none the less it was a long 8 1/2 hours with no sleep coming my way. Three movies and some tv watching was all I could do.

Arrival in Gatwick was on time at 8:30AM the next day and after passport control we found the shuttle to the South Terminal for our Gatwick train. Thankfully there was a nice employee at the self serve terminals to help us buy our return tickets and we were on our way.

The train took us to Farringdon where we purchased an Oyster Card and loaded it with 20EP and the 5EP deposit. The max it will charge you is 7 a day for journeys so better than paying point to point

Arrived at Paddington station and then a five minute walk to our hotel, the Royal Cambridge on Sussex Garden. All the hotels on this street are converted town houses, ours taking two to make one hotel. The manager remembered me from calling her about a mixup with Agoda, the booking company I used to book this room a year ago. Agoda sent a message two weeks ago and said my booking was cancelled. The manager rebooked me at the same price which was nice and a huge relief.

It is only 11AM and check in is at 2P. We are so tired, having been up for 20 hours already, but she let us have the room after just a 1/2 hour wait. We were very grateful. The room is really small, but clean and modern and on the main floor. Two twin beds and a bonus of air conditioning with a decent bathroom. I am happy.

At 2PM the alarm went off and , although we didn't want to leave the comfort of our bed, we knew we had to if we were going to get on London time.

Back to the underground where we made our way to the Victoria And Albert Museum. I had bought a membership on line because the exhibit I wanted to see ,’ Christian Dior’ was sold out. The membership allows as many visits as I like and Chloe, my grand daughter can get in for free with me as she is under 18.

The first stop was the cafeteria for some lunch. We are both vegan, but flexible and today we decided to have a sandwich with cheese which was fantastic. A good quality white cheddar was used, and two salads came with lunch. That really hit the spot. We sat outside in the courtyard which had a bunch of chairs and tables around what looked like a pond but children were swimming and playing in it which was fun.

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The Dior collection was bigger than I thought it would be. It was fantastic. The presentation was very well done and the clothing was beautiful and very creative. There were quite a number of people but it was not overwhelming.

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Later we visited the Mary Quant collection which was also fun to see. We will come another day to visit more of the museum.

Another subway to Hyde Park Corner where we walked through St. James Park with many bird sightings, a few bright green parrots as well. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable short walk to Buckingham Palace which even at this time of day was quite busy. We just sat on the steps of the statue and looked at the palace and people watched for about an hour. We were actually too tired to move I think.

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Finally at 5PM I decided to hail a cab, the thought of walking back to the subway and dealing with all that was too much to bear. We had a lovely cab driver and were back in our room in no time to prepare for tomorrow.

London , Day 2
The Royal Ascot

Our included breakfast was a croissant and piece of fruit and then we were on our way to take the underground to Waterloo Train Station. We had dressed up in our finest which got a few looks from others until we arrived at Waterloo where we saw many Ascot goers in their fancy dress and fascinators.

Empty seats were beside two men dressed to the nines , top hats, morning suit and even the canes. I started up a conversation with the fellow beside me but he was from Milan Italy and did not speak much English. His friend spoke a bit more. The fellow beside me had my favourite color on, right down to his shoes which were blue and white. Quite the dashing men. The women in our car had various hats of all sizes and colors, some with large feathers and things coming out the top. Champagne was being enjoyed by some groups already at this early hour of 9AM. Let the party begin.

Arrival had us all walking up a pedestrian walkway lined with British flags overhead. The mood is very festive and everyone is acting rather regal in their finery

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Chloe picked up her entrance from the ticket office as those under 18 must buy on the day. Security is very high with police and security personal everywhere. A bag search was quick and painless and then we were through the gates to explore.

Being early there were many tables at the food cart area so we decided to take advantage and sit a while and people watch. We grabbed a lemonade and later had to try the ‘cheese toast’ that has been talked about so much. It was quite good but glad we split one. I met a man while buying the toast who had worked at the Ascot for 29 years, this was his last one and his job was meeting with the Queen when she arrived and made sure all was in order. He has written a couple of books and was quite interesting to talk to.

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The band started playing and the people were filling up all the empty tables in the area. A great deal of ‘beautiful people’ hanging about.

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We walked around for a bit and then got our spot for the Queens arrival at 2PM. We chose the winners circle as it was a smaller area and looked as though we could get closer. We noticed security up high on the platforms, strapped in, looking at the crowd with binoculars for anything suspicious

The first four days of the ascot saw a lot of rain, but we were lucky today as it was a bright sunny day. Really quite warm. Our spot on the rail was secured an hour early and we did more people watching until the band came out to entertain for a bit. It was getting close to 2 and very busy here now. The big screen showed the carriage coming onto the racetrack, the cheering could be heard from where we were. I had placed a bet on the color she would wear today and chose green or purple. She arrived in a lime green hat and outfit which was a nice surprise.

Eventually they came through the tunnel and passed by our area, mere feet from where we were standing. She was accompanied by her son Prince Andrew and two other horse gentleman. The other two carriages were also with horse people that I did not know about.

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It was all quite exciting and then the horses for the first race arrived, being paraded around a couple of times until the jockey climbed on and they went off to the starting post. The horses were very worked up, high spirited and one even bucked the jockey off and dragged. him a bit. It looked like the rider was a bit bruised but not too hurt hopefully.

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We tried to get in to see the race but the building out to the track was crammed with people, you could not move let alone get to the track. So we watched it on TV. I did place a bet but my horse did not show in the first four.

The second race we made our way down to the track as a lot were coming in to cash in their winnings . The announcer really gets the crowd going , yelling near the end as the crowd is cheering and shouting as their horse is vying for first place. It’s very exciting to be a part of it all. Again my horse did not make a showing at all, but I really had no idea what I was doing.

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We started making our way through the crowds to the wicket where I bought the bet for queens color at, I paid a total of 30GBP for the three bets and got back 17.

Our trip to the ladies washroom gave us a bit of entertainment for the 30 minutes of waiting in the long queue. The men’s was beside the ladies and a couple of security folk with dogs were waiting outside for the fellows to come out. The dogs did point out a few of the young men who were led off somewhere, some of them almost in tears. I know that if they get a criminal record for drug possession they could very likely lose their high paying jobs. A bad decision that they will surely regret for a short term high. Not sure what kind of drugs they were, different kinds I suppose.

Afternoon tea was booked for 4:30P so we made our way to the 1768 Restaurant. It was very lovely, but super hot as the sun was baking down on us. We each ordered tea and then brought a three tiered plate of vegetarian sandwiches, scones with cream and raspberry jam and the top layer crowned with fancy little desserts. It was all delicious, but not enough to fill us up, just tide us over for the train trip back. But a perfect place to have our afternoon tea in my opinion with everyone all dressed to the nines and making it all very special.

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We left a couple hours before the races were over to make our way to the theatre before 7:30PM. Everyone had to queue up at the station , it was all very well organized and orderly and despite the pushing and shoving to get a seat we did manage to sit all the way back. My feet were killing me. I can imagine later on however it will be quite a wait for a train and very long lines.

Back at Waterloo station we hurried to catch the subway to Piccadilly and made it to the theatre just as the curtain for “Les Miserables’ was going up.
We had slip seats beside the stage and although the leg room was rather cramped the view was great being so close to the stage and the price was certainly right.

We both loved the show, the singing was fantastic.

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I guess all the shows get out at the same time because the underground station was as crammed as the Ascot was earlier. Eventually we did get back to our hotel and were happy to put our feet up after a very full but fantastic day

London day 3.

Sunday

A lazy morning was in order. We missed breakfast so just went to the convenience store for some fruit and croissants which we ate on the subway to Camden Market. We explored the shops in the ‘Stables’ for a couple of hours poking around. It was quite busy but had a lot of fun things, many retro clothing stores. Chloe bought a cute shirt at one. We found ‘The Dirty Vegan’ restaurant and had fries with vegan cheese over top. It was quite rich and neither of us could finish them but tasty.

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I was really tired today, I think I overdid it yesterday so we decided to go on a bus tour and headed off to Hyde Park Corner. The Mega Bus had the best price for just a tour, there was not going to be any hopping on or off going on, so we looked for that, just missing the 2PM departure . The tickets must be booked on line and not having wifi made it a problem, but there was a man there to check passengers in and he figured out a way for me and we purchased two tickets. . It cost 30 GBP for us both, and on line was about 20, but didn't have much of a choice so didn’t argue. The other buses were all around 30 each .

It was a very informative and pleasant trip seeing all the highlights in less than 2 hours as traffic was light being a Sunday. We had planned on doing the London Eye after but we were both running out of camera battery so decided to call it a day.

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A stop at a pub near the hotel for a mediocre veggie burger and then back to pack up for our flight to Nairobi tomorrow morning.

Day 4
Flight to Kenya , June 24

Heathrow express tickets were purchased on line three months in advance so the cost was quite reasonable. We were at the airport in 15 minutes from Paddington and through security in record time. I have never been through with such ease before. Now we wait. I always like to be early for flights in case of the ‘what ifs’.

Our British Airways flight left on time at 10:40AM and was packed . Our middle seat was filled by a lovely young man from Germany now living in Nairobi for a couple of years.
We arrived on time at 9:40 PM, bought our East Africa Visa and were met by Moses from the hotel in a nice Landcruiser to take us to our hotel, the Saab Royale.
The reception greeted us with hot towels and fresh passion fruit juice as we checked in. Our twin room is bigger than the one in London and just fine for the night.
Tomorrow we will be picked up at 8AM for the start of our Kenya Safari. It is very exciting.

Posted by debbep 13:41 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london royal ascot Comments (1)

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