Last Sunday we had the most perfect family day out in London doing touristy things! My love for London is well known but there are still more than a few attractions I’ve not visited, but now I can tick another two off my list thanks to 365 Tickets!
According to my mum I turned down the chance to go on the London Eye (then called the Millennium Eye) for my 16th Birthday! What was I thinking? Moody teenager apparently… but I love getting a birds-eye view of anywhere and Sam hadn’t been on it either (although is a little afraid of heights which is a bit ridiculous for someone who is 6’6!)
We arrived around 10.15am and after exchanged our pre-printed booking confirmation from 365 Tickets at the ticket office just opposite the Eye we queued up to board our ‘flight’ for no more than five minutes as it obviously pays to be an early bird. During the queue we had our photo taken against a green screen, to be superimposed against a more impressive backdrop later! We had a buggy with us which we were asked to fold down, so do be prewarned if you’ve just chucked a load of gumpf in the shopping basket, you’ll have to remove it! We boarded the pod with about 15 other people, so it didn’t feel too crowded at all. There is a bench running down the centre of the capsule and hand rails along the edge with some touchscreen display tablets on them so you can work out what the landmarks are, read a little about them and also see what the view would be like at night (I’d love to go back at night actually!) My one gripe would be that the outside of the capsule could’ve done with a window cleaner, but I expect they’re cleaned on rotation and they can’t help pigeons doing their business where they do it!
Once you’re in the capsule you can barely tell it’s moving as it goes so slowly so there’s no fear of queasiness or anything like that. The views were spectacular, as expected! We plotted our route up to Kensington Palace for later, over the river, past Buckingham Palace and through Hyde Park. Athena was most excited to spot the boats and the buses beneath us, as well as the odd plane that flew above us!Sadly for us it was a bit of an overcast day so my pictures are a little gloomy looking, but they really don’t do the experience justice at all (or perhaps I need to take my camera of auto and actually use it properly!)
It’s actually quite a humbling experience, to look out over London and think about all those people down there going about their business, every skyscraper has thousands of people in it, every window might have a person behind it!
Once our capsule got back down the bottom our doors were opened and we left via the little souvenir area where you could see the photos that were taken before the ride and during (there are ‘photo areas’ where you can have a group photo taken as the ride comes to an end) but we were all starving and probably wouldn’t have bought the photos even if they had been on display but as they weren’t up yet we didn’t hang about! There is also a 4D experience included as part of the ticket price, but we didn’t think a toddler and a hungry baby would appreciate it so we didn’t visit that part, which is in a separate building just across from the entrance to the Wheel.
As it had miraculously got a little brighter (sods law, of course!) we walked along the Thames to the next bridge (Lambeth Bridge) and walked across it, then cut up away from the river towards the bottom corner of St James Park, where Athena chased after some ducks and tried to touch a squirrel!
We then hopped on a bus once we’d walked past Buckingham Palace (the 148!) and hopped off at the top end of Hyde Park and from there it was a 10 minute stroll to Kensington Palace. We had a lovely lunch al fresco at their cafe (which you can use without buying a ticket to the Palace itself by the way!) which will probably be one of the last outside lunches of the year judging by recent weather! Once we’d had lunch and let Athena run around the gorgeously kept lawn at the front we headed inside, again swapping our booking confirmation for ‘proper’ tickets.
It’s fairly easy to navigate your way around Kensington Palace with a cleverly designed ‘stitching’ on the walls, cross stitch, straight stitches etc let you know which area you’re in or how to get there, Including the Kings State Apartments, Victoria Revealed and Fashion Rules (which is the current exhibition in the Modern Royals section). I will say however that if you have a buggy with you there are two areas where you will be escorted through a private door to other areas of the Palace to avoid having to cut back to the lift, leave the buggy and trek up (the majestic looking) sets of stairs, which was pretty handy! So borrow someone’s baby if you don’t have your own, you can even borrow mine if you like!
Everything was really easy to navigate, with clear and concise explanations of the exhibits, along with booklets in each room with extra information should you want in. Clever lighting and projection created the illusion of some of the rooms being occupied by the people who would once have spent their days in the Palace which was clever and really helped you experience the Palace as it would have been. The Fashion Rules exhibit was particularly interesting for me, so many gorgeous dresses worn by the Queen, Princess Margaret and Princess Diana who of course lived in Kensington Palace! There is a lovely gift shop too on the way out!
So a huge thanks to 365 Tickets for offering us a chance to be tourists for the day! The combined attraction package we chose is one of many available on their site offering you a great discount on the face value, at around a 25% saving. Other attractions in London include the The Zoo, Hampton Court, Madam Tussauds and The Aquarium. Of course 365 Tickets sells tickets for events and attractions all over the world, let alone England!