We were all awake about 5:00 a.m. Braeden and Emma were extremely impatient to hit the road. I was armed with the travel plan that Adam had made for us and we set out for the Tube. The nice guy selling the one day passes for kids told me that if we'd wait 15 minutes...until after 9:30, they would be cheaper. Sounds good. We wandered down the street to a tiny grass area and sat on a park bench. I showed Emma the map because she kept insisting we were going to the Museum of Natural History first and I kept insisting we were walking through Kensington Gardens first. She finally believed me. We weren't the only ones aware of the 9:30 trick. When we got back in line, there were two sets of American parents there with their sons.
We went from the Tube to the bus to the park and I felt like a whiz. Braeden and Emma just take it for granted that they're going to get where they're headed but I have to concentrate. The walk through Kensington Gardens was freezing but beautiful. We saw all sorts of pretty birds and saw three young women exclaiming excitedly about something in (I think) Italian. We followed their gesturing and saw a squirrel climbing a tree. Kind of disappointing. We've seen squirrels.
We gazed up at the Albert Memorial and walked around it. I told Braeden and Emma that I must look like a person who has studied her Rick Steves' book because a man asked me who Albert was anyway.
An escalator in the Natural History Museum that went through the center of the earth. It was huge and a little spooky.I was feeling the effects of my sleepless night so I kept looking for benches to sit on. Braeden and Emma kept spurring me on. Ah youth.
Our next stop was the Victoria and Albert Museum. We wandered through the Japanese Samurai display...the swords for Braeden. We wandered through the sculptures and I promised a reward to the first person who found the Bernini sculpture that we'd just studied about last week in school. I didn't have a reward in mind and Braeden and Emma were too busy NOT looking at the naked statues to find it so I ended up pointing it out to them. Emma said, "Why don't they ever have any clothes on?" Sorry Em.
The cast courts which I loved last time I was here were as thrilling the second time around. I found a bench to sit on (phew!) and let the kids walk around the room then they showed me what they liked. Braeden and Emma were finally getting tired too so we moved to another room, found a comfy sofa in front of a display of albaster carvings of Jesus. Braeden read every word about each carving (he gets that from his dad who got it from HIS dad) and Emma and I played dots. I won.
We found a cafe and bought some bottled water. I had a pocketful of change so when she asked for £2.40, I just held out my hand full of coins and the cashier found the money she needed. Stupid American.
Over our "delightfully still" mineral water (and Emma's protestations of why does the water have to taste like that?) we decided that we were tired. And wanted to go back to our hotel. We had planned to meet Adam at the V&A. I swallowed hard and fished my Tube map out of my pocket. I mapped out a route home and it worked. This all may seem really silly...especially to the millions that use London transportation every day but I'm a dunce at that sort of thing so be impressed. I am.
Walking back from the Tube stop, we were in the rain. We know rain though...we're from Seattle. It didn't dampen my elation at my newfound competance. I made a deal with my kids. You let me sleep...so you need to read SILENTLY for 30 minutes, I will take you swimming. I hit the pillow and didn't move until Braeden woke me up and I stared at him for a while before I could process who he even was...I was that tired. We went to the pool and somehow the kids had the energy to race the length of the pool...there never was a clear winner and try to balance on kickboards. I sat in the steamy room and read and tried to recover,
When Adam came back, he was full of enthusiasm for more sightseeing. Our first stop was Marks & Spencer for some gloves for me. It's cold and since I'm not a true Davis as Braeden and Emma with the eternally warm hands pointed out, my hands have been freezing. We had a snack at M&S then headed out. Our first stop was St. Paul's Cathedral...all lit up and beautiful. Braeden and Emma ran up and down the steps and I tried to place myself next to Adam out of the swirling wind. We walked across the Thames on the Millenial Bridge to the Tate Modern Art Museum.
After that we were all cold and tired and ready for some food and bed. Adam knew where there was a pub that welcomed families by the Tower Bridge. Now getting there...We followed Adam in pursuit of a good bus route and whined a lot. We found a bus, found the pub and alas, no kids after 9:00. It was 9:30. Hmmmm. The buses aren't as frequent that time of night so we looked around and walked and walked and Adam commented that this was where Jack the Ripper had hung out...on the South Bank. Thanks for that. We found a bus stop...waited awhile then walked around the corner and waited at a different one. Nothing. We went BACK to the first one and finally FINALLY a bus! We took the bus to the Tube then transferred to a different line. We were a weary group. Braeden fell asleep on the train. On the walk back to our hotel, we dropped by Tasty Kebab for some take out. While they were preparing it, Emma lay her head on the table and fell asleep. Later, Braeden commented to Adam about us being lost. Adam said, "We weren't lost. Lost means you don't know where you are. We were confused. We didn't know where we were going." I guess it's all in your perception.
At 11:30, we were in our beds. And Adam left for the executive lounge to work because he had meetings in Seattle...where it was afternoon.