One of the nice things about being an Expat in KSA is the vacation schedule and more central global location when it comes to travel. For the recent EID Holiday, which is a full week off from work, we decide to take an extra week of leave and do a full 2 weeklong trip to the UK. There are direct flights from Jeddah to London and the flight is only ~6 hours and with a 1-hour time difference so from a travel perspective it is a pretty easy trip. We spent the first week of the trip (June 1st – 7th) primarily in London with a few small day trips during the week. Overall on the trip we visited London, Cardiff, York, Stirling Castle, St. Andrews, Loch Ness and the Scottish Highlands, and Edinburgh. We were a little worried about Brexit and if there might be issues at the airports or boarders, but we had no problems at all and if you are thinking of taking a trip to the UK go for it there is no need to worry. The pictures below are from some of our favorite spots in London, and can give those thinking of traveling some ideas of nice places to visit especially if you are traveling with children.
We also visited the HMS Belfast and is a nice stop especially if you have young children. During out visit there was a cruise shipped docked next to the HMS Belfast and I thought this was an interesting picture as it looked like the HMS was about to fire its guns into the cruise ship.
Tower of London
Most of you are probably already aware of this, but for those that are not, the name Tower of London might be a little confusing as it is a castle with multiple buildings and “towers” within the grounds of the castle as you will see in some of the images below.
Tower and London Bridges
Many people confuse the Tower and London Bridges. The more iconic looking Tower Bridge is connected to the Tower of London and hence the name Tower Bridge. The London Bridge is much less interesting architecturally and has been replaced and modernized several times throughout its history.
Kensington gardens is a nice large park in the center of London with lots of green space and playgrounds again great and free option to check out if you are traveling with children. The Diana Memorial playground is free and open to public and has a lot of really fun and unique themed areas including the wooden ship play area in the picture below.
London Ice Bar
These Ice bars are a lot of fun and I highly recommend checking one out if you are looking for something different to do on your next trip. We did one in Queenstown, New Zealand as well and really enjoyed it and no worries kids are allowed in as well and they have fruit juice for the kids. They provide all the winter coats and your drink comes in a glass made of ice.
Natural Science Museum
Very large and historic museum that has a lot of different exhibits so that everyone in the family can find something interesting. My son and I really enjoyed the large mineral and precious stone exhibit. My daughter enjoyed the insect exhibit and specifically scaring my wife with the arachnid exhibits. We all enjoyed the 3D moon exhibit which is a large (probably 30-40 foot diameter) internally illuminated scale model sphere of the moon hung from the ceiling in a dark room.
During our visit to Westminster Abbey we were also able to head a few blocks north toward Buckingham Palace to catch the practice run of the Queen’s Birthday Parade “Trooping the Colour”, which was scheduled the following week. The kids didn’t mind/know it was just the practice run and were still excited to see all the guards marching, the bands, and military vehicles.
Palace of Westminster
Very picturesque building set along the River Thames which also has a nice park and river front benches with views of the city.
One disappointment, which we were aware of before traveling, is the work on Big Ben which is scheduled to continue until 2021. As you can see below the tower itself is nearly completely covered in scaffolding and the bells will be slight during this multi-year restoration project. Not sure what they are doing that is requiring 4 years to complete, but whatever the case this is one experience we will have to come back for after 2021 to see in person.