Days 4 & 5 of Carlsson’s European Vacation
After our big day in Cambridge, we decided to lay low and hang around the house for a day. Melissa got to experience the awesomeness of Mr. Melody’s Music Class as well as Lena’s signature dance moves. And afterwards, my friend Kathryn invited us over for tea. I’ve been incredibly lucky to find a few close friends at each place we’ve lived. While Kathryn is technically from Australia, I consider her to be my best British friend since we met here in England. It was such a treat to be able to introduce Melissa and Kathryn as I knew they’d hit it off.
The next day, we made the trek to London for the full-blown tourist experience. We’d heard good things about the Original Red Bus Tour so we hopped on the tube and made our way to Trafalgar Square. It was a bit difficult to figure out where we actually got on the bus tour as there was construction going on and about a million people in one city block. Melissa is not a fan of large crowds (and I’m starting to feel the same way as well) but she was a trooper and kept her cool. The tickets seemed a bit pricey at £25 per person but considering they take you around the entire city as well as give you a boat ride on the River Thames, you get your money’s worth out of it. There are a number of different tours you can take but we wanted to see the main attractions, so we opted for the Red Route. You can hop on or hop off anywhere you like and the ticket is good for 24 hours. So if you’re actually staying in London, you could technically spread this out over two days.
Lena came ready with her game face on and was a character the entire day. In the hopes of not getting kicked off the bus, we took her to the back of the open air second floor. The Diva proceeded to squeal and blabber at high volumes making it nearly impossible to hear the tour guide. So I can’t really tell you everything we saw but I will share the photos. You’ll notice Lena is trying to jump off the side of the bus in a few shots. The kid is fearless.
Once we reached the River Thames, we hopped off the bus and made our way down to the boat tour. The views from the river were really beautiful – I highly recommend taking the boat trip if you go on the Red Bus Tour. One of the skippers (what are they called?) gave us a short explanation of what we were seeing and some British trivia as well. According to man with the “nice bone structure” (Melissa’s observation), you should only refer to the British flag as the Union Jack when it is flying from the bow of a warship. Otherwise, it’s simply a Union Flag. Also, Lena was mistaken for a boy on the boat ride which I found comical because the other three adults with her that day promised me she looked feminine in her blue striped sweater.
This modern glass building is called The Shard as it’s meant to resemble a shard of glass. We definitely thought the tour guide called it The Shart when he first started talking about it.
All proper tourists need photos of Big Ben and the London Eye.
After the boat tour, we decided to walk a bit to get Lena to nap. Dustin suggested we walk across the Tower Bridge despite Melissa and I starting to get hangry and having bad attitudes. I love that we can be our true selves with the Carlsson’s and they feel the same way. I have a bad tendency to whine A LOT when I’m hungry or tired, but they still love me. Jason even lets his weirdness shine through and this is huge because he is intensely private around everyone else. I also had to include the photo of the feeding train because Melissa’s discomfort is palpable. It makes me giggle every time I see it.
We refueled at Starbucks while Lena napped then hopped back on the bus to finish our tour. Without realizing it, we managed to get back on the tube right as everyone was getting off work. If you’re never experienced rush hour with strangers and their sweat pushed right up against you, then you are lucky. This was not our favorite part of the day and by the time we got back to Epping, we were exhausted.
I highly recommend the Red Bus Tour if you want to see all the major sights in London. And don’t forget to go on the boat tour – you won’t be disappointed!