Things That Make You Go MMMMMMMMM

Let's just be clear, neither Steve nor I are foodies so do not be looking at this blog for anything out of the ordinary.  I did want to do one nice dinner and ended up with two places that looked really good and then found some cool pubs.  We initially had planned on the Savoy Grille but I cancelled it for two reasons.  First I wanted the Wellington and Steve did not want it (loser) but also the reviews lately were really bad.  This dinner was probably going to be north of $300 so I really wanted to not stress out so I swapped it out for Steak and Company which has really good reviews.  I chose the Picadilly Circus restaurant just to make sure that we got over in that direction.  The food looks good and the reviews are stellar.


The place I am really excited about is Padella.  Padella is a Michellin Star italian restaurant everything is made fresh and it looks mouth wateringly awesome.  It is over in the Borough Street Market area and we are going to dinner there one night.  I am italian myself so kind of picky about italian in a restaurant but their food looks A-MAY-ZING and I am excited to try it.  In fact my moth is watering just looking at it.


Steve wants to go to a real authentic pub and my guess is before the week is over we will be at a ton of them BUT I wanted to find a real old cool one and that would be Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub.  Basically it has been in existence in this form (originally built in 1538) since after The Great Fire in 1667 and had some very incredibly famous patrons like CHarles Dickens and George Orwell.  It is basically wedged in an alley on Fleet Street and I am told the food is mediocre but the history !!!  I am really excited to visit it!


With our hotel we do get 2 "three course meals" and I was all excited until I contacted them and was told that the meals were not at the actual restauarants but the bar next door.  The food is the usual burger fare and a bit disappointing so we will probably skip it.  I asked if we could swap for a lunch but thats a no go.  In the end its not a big deal.  I just know that if I want pub food I would rather go to a more historic pub than the one next door.  I also get that I am getting such a good deal it is not a problem and their restaurants are super expensive so no real complaints here! 

The Itinerary - Making the Math work

I have spent a ton of time on looking at all of the different discounts and offers and actually bought a London Pass (then luckily was able to get a refund) and decided it was not for me.  You may ask why?  Well I started to do the math and realized that the only way I could do it is to go to a ton of their attractions but I also read the fine print.  You can go ONE time - well what if I get to the Tower of London and it's cold and rainy and I only see half?  I cannot go back on the ticket.  In my research I realized that you could buy a membership to many of the attractions and get unlimited visits.


My biggest find was the Historic Royal Palaces.  I had planned to visit Hampton Court, Tower of London, Banqueting House and Kensington Palace - yep they are all on the London Pass but again only one visit, if you do the math to see them its about 80 pounds per person (Banqueting House is still closed so I took that out) however for 89 pounds two people can get unlimited access to any of the 5 palaces.  Why I like this is that I now do not have to cram everything into one visit or maybe I do but I have the option of returning if I want.  If it was not during COVID I also could be getting extra perks and tours.  But more importantly the funding goes directly to the charity and I feel especially in COVID times these charities need that extra money.


That got me looking at the other membership options and I am doing the same thing with St Pauls and Westminster Abbey - you literally can turn in your ticket for a membership and then if I want to pop back in I can but they are also getting very well needed funds.  Once you take these big ticket items out of the mix, the London Pass no longer makes sense.  Literally once I got my 1 year membership to HRPs I was going to have to go to every attracting in London to make it worth while.  The only group that I could not make the math work is the English Heritage Foundation.  They have an Overseas visitor pass but most of the places are not in London and so it just did not make sense to spend 69 pounds for two people for a nine day pass.  Of all of their sites, Jewel Tower is the only one I planned to visit.  But if you are travelling outside of London there are a ton of great options so I wanted to add it!  There also is a 1 Year Pass that is part of the Royal Collection Trust where you can turn a purchased ticket into a year long pass.  This is only for one site so it will work if you plan to go back more than once but it did not work for me


I do still have a few expensive items on the list and so I looked at the other options.  There is a 2 for 1 that the Nationrail has operating.  Basically if you have a rail ticket you can get a voucher that allows you to buy 2 tickets to a list of attractions for the price of 1.  I admit that it sounds great but this is our first trip and the whole 'you have to buy a ticket' thing seems too complicated and I know most people are probably laughing but it has been hard enough to try and plan a vacation internationally while in the middle of a pandemic so I decided to pass on it.


I also looked at the Go City passes and you can do these by attraction.  In looking at it I figured out what the cost per attration at each level and what I found is that for me since most of the big ticket items were taken by the above the only one that made sense was the 2 item passes to use for the Hop On Hop Off Bus and The Shard.  Other than that - everything left on my list was under 10 pounds (by the way my keyboard does not have the Pound symbol which is quite annoying!  I hope this helped - I realize this methodology does not work for all but I am glad I was able to find some of these.

Third Times The Charm?

We have been planning our 25th wedding anniversary for what seems like five years.  When it comes to vacations we have the worst luck.  Like two weeks before our cruise to Cuba the government shut down cruises to Cuba and then the next year a little thing called COVID hit.  We were supposed to go to London last year in May, then we pushed it to Septemeber because we were sure COVID would be done last fall.

Early this spring we decided to rebook for October and literally were about to cancel again when the UK opened up.  SO the trip that has been off, then on, then off, the almost off is back on.  I am writing this blog because I see so many people talking about trips to London but they never seem to be real - its like people who want to go to museums or want to travel on twenty bucks a day but there are not a lot of blogs that just seem to be normal people planning a trip.  With that there will be links - but they are not going to make me any money.  I literally hate on Pinterest when you want the recipe for something but have to scroll through Aunt Millie's cousins uncles journey to Norway and photos when you just want the recipe.

If I link it then know it is because I find it interesting and I will not make a dime off it.

Trip Logistics

We purchased this trip via Costco Travel.  Honestly, I love their travel options (every rental car we get is through them).  We usually get a great deal at a great price plus as Costco members and cardholders I get great rewards so it is a win-win.  We are going to be in London six days.  At first we were going to do two cities in 8 days but we decided to actually attempt to ENJOY the trip versus a Disney Death March.  I admit I spent forwever going through the different hotel options but I fell in love with Hotel 41.  I am not the type of person who likes to stay in the big glutzy hotels, when we travel we like to enjoy the culture and this boutique hotel seems right up our alley.  It's small it's quirky but at the same time it is right in the area we want to be and I just love that it is very British.

We are flying American (that's basically our only choice) and it is a direct flight.  Its overnight and we took some of our points and upgraded to the front of Economy (the jump to first was a bit steep!) so at least we will have a little room to spread out.  We get in at 7:40 am and then are scheduled for our COVID Day 2 test right at Heathrow (the rules are changing as we speak but I paid for these already) then we have a driver to pick us up!   One of the things I did was buy new suitcases that are not black - and are big.  I have a horrible addiction to Freebird boots and I need some room for them (Baker, Carlito and the baddest of them all Iceland) I plan to wear boots and my coat (I had to buy one since I live in the south) on the plane to save some space. 

Trip Highlights

I am an English History nerd - specifically the Plantagenets through the Cousin's War / War of the Roses, my husband is allergic to museums so if you see museums missing - well that is why.  But we will be hitting Tower of London including the Ceremony of the Keys, St Paul's, Westminster Abbey (hopefully including the Jerusalem Chamber) and Hampron Court (yes I know that is Tudor's but still) as well as a private Sunset tour of Stonehenge Inner Circle.  Usually they are not allowing Inner Circle in October but thanks to COVID they are opened for business and while the price is steep being able to do this is a great splurge and so we booked it!  And of course I have tickets to HAMILTON - because there is nothing like watching people make fun of George III in the VIctoria Palace Theatre.  And then I can say I have seen it on Broadway, London and Charlotte (I was a Hamilton fan before being a Hamilton fan was cool)

My next entry is going to be about all of these pass options - London Pass / Go City 2For1 and all of my number crunching etc plus some of the smaller historic sites that I cannot wait to see.

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