Some quick background, I had not done any traveling with my son in several years, he had grown (26) and now has his own life to live. I realized though we spoke often, we only got to see each other 2 to 3 times a year at most. Knowing he is a big Manchester City FC fan I asked him if he wanted to go see them play live. His initial response was ‘when are they coming to the U.S.’, that of course was not the plan, it was to go to a match in London. And that is what we did
We took the 9:40PM nonstop flight that arrived in Heathrow at 9:30AM Thursday AM local time. This was by far the worst part of the trip. You have a few beers before boarding and then you are all messed up time wise flying through the night. I know some folks may enjoy the overnight flight but him being slightly above average size and me being extremely above average in stature, we just could not get comfortable. I would recommend leaving in the AM. All that being said, we made it safely and arrived early.
After going through customs we headed to
the hotel. I did not mention in my background that we took this trip with a backpack only – no luggage. We only booked a couple hotels in advance, as we were not sure where our travels would take us. We did not want to be tied down by any type of luggage. These were not your big travel months through Europe backpacks, think more of what a college students uses for a book/laptop bag. We took the tube from Heathrow to Bloomsbury, I highly recommend using the tube for all transportation. It is very affordable and easy to navigate. Luckily our room was available upon arrival at our hotel. We immediately went to bed for four hours and woke up, showered and out the door at 5PM local time feeling very refreshed. The nap allowed us to quickly get on local time by staying out late that evening. We had a few pints in the theatre district getting our bearings and finished the evening having dinner (bangers and mash) at a pub near our hotel whilst watching Man U football match with some locals.
We decided to head to Oxford after some coffee and pastries. We took great Western Railways (~28 pounds round trip/PP). It is about a 1.5 hour train ride through beautiful country side. Oxford itself is a very fun college town. We found a nice B&B called Victoria House Hotel (29 George Street, Oxford UK) for 98 pounds, highly recommend. It was small, but very clean, and the people who ran the place were over the top nice. Dropped our bags and went out to explore. We booked a boat ride down the Thames, famous for the many years of crewing that has occurred there. Prior to departure we had a nice lunch and a few pints at The Head of the River tavern. The food was very good and the location along the water was really nice. The boat ride was OK, no narrative, just a guy driving us up and back the Thames. Since it was inexpensive, 8 pounds/PP I would recommend it, just to take in the scenery.
We then decided to create our own pub-crawl, we stopped at the following taverns/pubs, Old Tom, Royal Oak, Victoria, Jericho, the Horn and Flag. All recommended for their very old atmosphere and barkeep personalities.
We had Pizza and salad for dinner at a place we shockingly, after our pub-crawl, cannot remember the name. It is directly across the street from the Victoria Inn. I tell you this, as the food was fantastic. We ended our evening at O’Neill’s pub for some live music and some final pours.
We spent the morning in Oxford walking around all the different colleges that make up the university. The grounds are as expected in the UK, massive buildings, very old and in very good shape. We climbed to the top of the clock tower at Christ church built 1500’s. This was a little newer than the tower in the center of town that was built in the 1200’s. It cost only 4 pounds and worth the views from the top.
All in all we truly enjoyed our visit to Oxford and would recommend it if you have time when in the UK. We boarded a train and headed back to London.
Arrived at our hotel, Premier inn around 2PM in Islington London. Premier inns are equivalent to holiday inns in the U.S., no frills but priced reasonably and very clean. They are located throughout Europe and are a good option if you are just looking for a place to sleep and shower. After dropping our bags we dined on some Thai food at Rosa’s Thai café Angel (6 Theberton St, London UK). a very good place and well worth the stop. Having had our full, we went for a stroll down the main avenue of the city and decided around 4pm it was time for an ale. It helped that our walk ended at the pub ‘famous cock’ how could we pass. We had a pint there while watching rugby with the locals. We then continued our walk and ended up at a place called vineyards. It had outside seating in front, which is unusual (usually it in the back). It was across the street from the town hall and we watched two weddings.
Leaving there we were on a mission to find a pub showing the first FA cup semifinal. We found one in short time and stayed there for the match. Got to me meet some very friendly young men (T’s age) who were fans of several different squads.
We left after the match, around 730pm. Stopped at a couple more places for and ale and some chips (what we Americans call French fries) before getting excellent take away burrito bowls (Chilango – 27 Upper St, London UK) and brought them back to the room.
As you can tell there are an abundance of Pubs in town. There was also shopping and several restaurants. Islington is located off the tube stop, Angel landing. It is not the fanciest part of town, however it appeared to be a local’s area.
Sunday 4/23 – game day
We walked this morning to the river Thames and sent a happy birthday video to Tori with Tower Bridge in the background. We also got to see some of the London marathoners. There was a great crowd for the race and they were very enthusiastic. Had a traditional English breakfast before heading to Wembley. The match was like nothing I had ever been to before. The crowd is literally separated by walls in the concourse and security right up the middle of the stadium. Opposing fans cannot interact with each other, which is until all 80,000 leave and head to the tube. That was also a unique experience. Seeing a man in his 60’s starting a fist fight with a 20 year old was something you don’t see every day. It took us about an hour and a half to get back to hotel area. We had a nice dinner at Byrons proper hamburgers (341 Upper St, London UK). Very tasty. Went for a walk and stopped for a coffee. Watching the Celtics on T’s phone.
We had a great last day sightseeing and pubbing in London. We found a place to stay pretty close to Victoria station. After dropping our bags we headed out around 11am. We walked from 11am until returning at 730pm. We hit all the sites on both sides of the Thames. You name it we walked by it. T is estimating we walked 8-10 miles. We did take a few rests along the way even trying a traditional English meat pie (very tasty). The places we stopped at:
- The Lord Moon of the Mall, (Try the meat pie)
- The Savoy Tup
- Black Friars
- The Centre Page – Built 1663
- The Banker – an old tube stop
- Old Thames Side Inn
The sites are very interesting for several reasons, the age (Church from 792), the architecture as well as realizing they had the skills to build them to stand for so long. We ended the evening with a delicious Italian meal at Sicily’s next to our boarding house.
Prior to heading to the airport for our travels home we stopped at Harrods for breakfast and walk through the shops. Harrods would be like a US mall except it is all one gigantic store. The food was excellent at Tim Fox Café. It is worth a stop if you are in the general vicinity, one of the more unique places to shop that I have ever visited.
Headed to the airport for the journey home – took the tube of course.
Looking for a quick get away from the east coast of the U.S. London is a great choice. There is plenty of history and touristy things to do. You can also just go if you’re in the mood for pub-crawls and dining. The people are all friendly and we experienced no issues at all. The best part is it is only a little over 6 hour flight.
Going with young T was what it made it so great for me. To be able to spend 6 days together, in tiny accommodations, and not have one argument or frustration with another is such a joy. Time moves on and all of sudden your kids are grown, which hard enough to believe means I am getting older as well. I will never take for granted how blessed my life has been to be able to travel with my Best Friend (Mrs. EggMan) as well as each of my children. God willing the trips will continue for many, many, more years.
My ultimate goal will be to pass along to the kid’s what it means to live ESCATI….
Until the next trip – Cheers
Memories of a lifetime