13 hours in London

We arrived at Heathrow at 10:00 a.m. on a Friday  and had 13 hours until our train to Edinburgh departed. Here’s how we spent our day in London:

We collected our bags, cleared customs and caught a taxi just outside terminal 1 at Heathrow to be taken to Euston station, where we would take the sleeper train late in the evening. We wanted to leave our bags at the left luggage office while we spent the day in London. Cost of the taxi was £55 which was cheaper than cost of the Heathrow express train and a tube ride for the four of us. It was also faster and easier on jet lagged bodies. 

It was about 11 a.m. when we arrived at Euston station. The sign on the left luggage office indicated a weight limit for bags, but luckily they did not weigh my bag. We all kept a small day pack with our change of clothes for dinner.
We stopped for coffee and hot chocolate at a little coffee shop in the station. From there, we took another cab, about 20 minutes, £15, to St. Katharine’s Dock, which is near the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
We wandered around St. Katharine’s Dock a bit and decided to try the Tradewinds Wine Bar and Restaurant.
Although it was noon, no one else was in the restaurant when we were seated. As we started our drinks, a few men in suits came in and sat at the bar. Through the meal, almost exclusively, businessmen were the only people who showed up for lunch. We were the only family in the restaurant. Scott was making up stories that the restaurant was some kind of cover for an organized crime group. The food was acceptable, although not particularly memorable, and we had a decent wine from the wine list.
The walk from the Tradewinds restaurant to the Tower was short. The sun was out but the wind was chilly.

Tickets for entry and tons of souvenirs are sold in a two story shop on the southwest corner of the Tower. You can also buy them online (at less cost), but we hadn’t done that. At least, we found no queues so had no problem or delay buying our tickets and walking straight into the Tower. Gate price: Adult £16.00, Child(under 16)£9.50.
We toured ourselves around rather than join one of the many organized tours. There were a fair number of tourists even in February. We checked out Traitor’s Gate and spent most of our time in the White Tower and looked at the Crown Jewels and the ravens.
Traitors Gate



From the Tower, we walked across Tower Bridge and along the walk which borders the south bank of the Thames River.

Right near the end of the Tower Bridge is the new City Council Chambers.

We walked through the area we had visited in 2002 — the old London gaol and Vinopolis, a wine shop and restaurant where we ate.

under London Bridge

 Sir Francis Drake’s The Golden Hinde
From there we stopped at the New Globe Theatre shop to see if they had the t-shirts we saw a few years ago that listed all of Shakespeare’s plays – they didn’t.

We went practically next door into Tate Modern, where we visited the Rothko room and looked at the new installation in Turbine Hall, Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth, which consisted of a large crack in the concrete floor.

From Tate Modern, we walked along the Queen’s Walk to the London Eye.


The queues for the Eye did not look too long so I decided to be brave and go for a spin. Tickets: Adult £15.00 Child(5-15 years) £7.50.

The pods of the Eye were big enough that if I sat on the bench in the middle my fear of heights was manageable but I wasn’t like Sidney, who was hanging out on the edges by the glass. The sky was a bit hazy but it was a pretty good view. Nevertheless, I was glad to get back on the ground.

From the Eye, we walked to the Dali Museum part of the County of London museum. It also includes some Picasso. This was the only London museum we went to that charged admission: Adults £12.00 Children 12 & Over £8.00. Allie was interested in viewing the Dalis. I wasn’t so impressed as it seemed to me that he spent much of his later career recycling the few ideas he had when he was young, especially, the persistence of memory idea, a.k.a, the dripping watches. I found the Picassos more interesting, although the collection was largely early Picassos. The exhibit includes some of his pottery which I hadn’t seen before.

We used the washrooms at the museum to change from our walking clothes to our dining out clothes which we had carried around with us all day.

It was raining, and I had put on my heels, so we took a cab to Petrus restaurant which was not far away [The Berkley Hotel, Wilton Place SW1X 7RL T: 020 7235 1200]. Petrus at that time was part of the Gordon Ramsay empire, where we saw Jean Phillipe, the maitre’d on the Hell’s Kitchen tv series. We had booked a reservation online a month earlier.

The meal was comparable to the dinner we had at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. It started with some very flavourful amuse bouches and a visit from the champagne cart. I had a very tender and tasty venison dish that I managed to polish off, which is unusual for me.

We had a lovely Brunello with our meal. I forgot what everyone else had but we must have been hungry from all our walking as everyone finished their main course and managed dessert. The desserts were beautifully presented. Allie had one called peanut parfait which was a Valrhona chocolate mousse, salt caramel, jelly, and raspberry crème.


vanilla creme

white chocolate mousse with mango

lemon curd
It was an expensive but fantastic meal and by the time we finished, it was time to head back to Euston station to get on the sleeper train to Edinburgh. Replete with food and a day of wandering about London, we all slept well.

my tired feet

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