Angela and I recently returned from a week in London during which we visited a number of tourist sights and ate a variety of delicious foods. In addition, I met up with a couple of friends for an NFL game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium while Angela visited Windsor Castle.
While there was a minor bit of country hopping on our transit home, it was nothing compared to previous trips we’ve taken. As such, the bookings for this trip were fairly easy to make.
Once we decided to visit London, I booked outbound flights and figured I’d address the inbound at some later date. I was somewhat dissatisfied with our outbound booking and closely monitored availability in the runup to our departure. In the end, I rebooked us onto a better set of flights two days in advance of our departure date and refunded my previously booked itinerary.
When an opportunity arose to use a large portion of our remaining United Airlines flight credit to return to the United States, I jumped at it. We used the first of four long-haul segments to return from Europe on this trip. We are stopping over in Las Vegas for several months before continuing the itinerary to New Zealand, returning home to stopover for several months again, and then returning to Europe in the middle of next year.
- Angela and Nicholas
- 70,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles + 89.40CAD (66.50USD) per person
- LAS-FRA on 4Y J (operated by AY)
- FRA-LHR on LH J
- 15,000 British Airways Avios + 1.00USD per person
- LHR-CDG on BA J
- 697.83USD (distance-prorated cash fare of 3,062.94USD for complex itinerary) per person
- CDG-FRA on LH J
- FRA-LAS on 4Y J (operated by AY)
- 70,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles + 89.40CAD (66.50USD) per person
Because of the last-minute flight change, I needed to book an additional night in London. With availability at our hotel sold out, I decided to book us a room at a nearby property that would make the journey between them the following day easy. For our night in Paris, I decided to stay at the airport to avoid a situation where we would need to take a late train to and an early train from the city center in order to catch our flight.
- One room for one night at The Trafalgar St. James London for 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night
- One room for five nights at the Conrad London St. James for 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night with the fifth night free
- One room for one night at the Sheraton Paris Airport Hotel & Conference Centre for 278.76EUR per night
We partook in a variety of ticketed activities on this trip, some of which we purchased in advance (like theatre seats) and some of which we purchased on demand.
- 29.00GBP per person for two people for tickets to the Churchill War Rooms
- 58.25GBP per person for two people for tickets to Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
- 42.00GBP per person for two people for tickets and transport to Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral
- 21.00GBP per person for two people for tickets to St. Paul’s Cathedral
- 26.50GBP per person for one person for a ticket to Windsor Castle
- 428.78USD per person for one person for a ticket to Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Monday, September 26, 2022
We dropped Fitz off at his boarding facility before returning home to pack. Given our issues during our last international travel, I was anxious to get to the airport early, especially given that we were flying a Lufthansa group leisure carrier again.
After parking at Terminal 3, we were able to check in without any issues. Unfortunately, we had to check our bags given that the weight limits are low and strictly enforced on Eurowings. We cleared security in no time and were able to access the Centurion Lounge without a wait, a nice surprise compared to our last few journeys out of our home airport.
We walked to our gate at the specified boarding time and waited through an hour of rolling delays before getting on the plane. Luckily for us, Eurowings has been flying Finnair A359s over the course of 2022, so we were welcomed onboard with a much more comfortable seat than we would have otherwise.
The long-haul flight passed without incident. The service onboard was a little disjointed, but the meal was adequate and the seats were comfortable enough to get a decent amount of sleep before arriving in Frankfurt slightly ahead of time.
Tuesday, September 27
After a loop of the Frankfurt airport, we settled in at the Lufthansa business class lounge in advance of our flight to London.
The short-haul segment was delightful, with a good meal, good service, and relatively comfortable seats with the business class cabin having the middle seat blocked.
When we arrived at London Heathrow Airport, we were able to quickly clear immigration and customs before waiting about twenty minutes for our bags to arrive. After that, we were off to the Picadilly line for a 45 minute train ride to Picadilly Circus and a 10 minute walk to our hotel.
We were a bit peckish, so we walked to the Seven Dials Market for a variety of dishes. We tried:
- Truffle Burger from Truffle
- Crispy Duck Gyoza from Yum Bun
- Guava Chicken Wings from El Pollote
- Uzbeki Dumplings from Oshpaz Dumplings
- Japanese Wheelcake from Wheelcake Island
- Chai Tea from Chai Guys
I loved the duck gyoza and thought the rest of the dishes were decent. It was an interesting experience as we’ve never eaten at a food market of that type before.
After dinner, we returned to the hotel to freshen up and get some rest after a long day of travel.
Wednesday, September 28
After a delightful breakfast, we checked out and walked to the Conrad St James, hoping a room might be ready for us. Luckily, the agent was able to procure a room for us at 1130 so we could drop our bags off prior to heading out into the city.
We visited the Churchill War Rooms, the underground location where Prime Minister Winston Churchill, along with his war cabinet and staff, directed Britain’s involvement in World War II. Some may be put off by the price of admission, but the exhibition was great and we would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in history.
There is a Churchill museum on site, discussing his leadership role during the war and other important parts of his life. As with most national history exhibitions, it sands down some of the rougher edges of Churchill’s character and portrays him, unflinchingly, as a national hero. While this is beyond dispute, I think it would be helpful to come into the museum with some foreknowledge of his role in the Gallipoli campaign or you’ll be left wondering why he was dismissed from his post when so many other commanders retained theirs during World War I.
The rest of the museum is a reconstruction of what the location would have looked like in the 1940s as the war was being fought. The conservators did a great job and it is possible to understand the conditions under which the principal actors and support staff operated.
After leaving the museum, we returned to the hotel for some afternoon tea snacks.
To round out the day, we took a stroll through St. James’s Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens before returning to the hotel, enjoying some light bites in the lounge, and heading to bed as we continued to acclimate to the new time zone.
Thursday, September 29
After breakfast, we set off for the Imperial War Museum London. There is no charge for admission at this museum and it was located just far enough away to provide us with a delightful walk from the hotel.
The entry to the museum plays host to a couple of 14-inch ship guns that were previously located on British battleships during the early-to-mid twentieth century.
During this visit to the museum, we perused the Witnesses to War galleries on the ground floor and in the first and second floor terraces. The objects on display were unique, each with a different story.
We spent the rest of our visit making our way through the World War I galleries on the ground floor. While there is a simplification of the circumstances surrounding the war’s start and the situation on the ground, not to mention the diminishment of some negatives of the British war strategy, it is quite well done and absolutely worth a visit. Most importantly, there are a number of interesting artifacts, both from the war front and the home front. Personally, I did not know that the British Army erected fake trees as spotting platforms.
Before we left, we also explored an exhibit sponsored by Lord Ashcroft that displays medal collections of individuals who earned the George Cross or Victoria Cross. In addition, we checked out a small gallery that showed Queen Elizabeth II’s military involvement, both personally and as a head of state.
Departing the museum, we returned to the hotel to grab our jackets along with a few items from the afternoon tea selection in the lounge.
Afterwards, we set off for Hawksmoor Borough for dinner. We walked past Westminster on the way and captured the beautiful late afternoon.
For dinner, we ordered the following:
- Caesar salad
- Maple Bacon
- Garlic and Herb Mushroom Caps
- Apple Crumble
We enjoyed the meal, although I think I would order the Porterhouse on our return rather than the Chateaubriand – the ends of the steak were a little too well-done for my taste.
After dinner, we made the short walk to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre where we secured our pre-paid cushions after entering and made our way to the upper gallery to watch the production.
The performance was a delight with terrific acting, stage presence, and ambiance. We both enjoyed it tremendously and would recommend it to anyone who loves the theatre. Be forewarned, however, that the seating is fairly cramped so if you’re going to be uncomfortable sitting with your feet behind your knees, you may want to book standing room on the ground floor.
We walked back to the hotel in the crisp late evening and stopped on a bridge to wonder at the beauty of the London skyline over the Thames.
Friday, September 30
We woke up early to eat breakfast before setting out for Salisbury to see the Salisbury Cathedral and the nearby monolithic monument of Stonehenge. Angela had prebooked our tickets given that timed entry is required at the cathedral so we needed to secure a specific train in the morning. Unfortunately, we realized after leaving the hotel that we’d be subject to one of the prototypical gray and rainy English days.
We walked to Waterloo Station and took National Rail service to Salisbury. Once we arrived, we walked from the station to Salisbury Cathedral to start our tour. The town itself is very quaint and easy to get around.
We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed the cathedral. The points of interest highlighted throughout the structure were unique and the building itself was very beautiful.
The real highlight of our visit to Salisbury Cathedral was the
three dachshunds we saw playing outside astoundingly well-preserved copy, one of only four in the world, of the 1215 version of the Magna Carta. Written on velum, the tight script is perfectly legible 800 years later. Unfortunately, pictures of the document are not allowed for preservation reasons.
As we left Salisbury Cathedral, it started to rain a bit. We walked to the rail station to catch the bus to Stonehenge where Angela exchanged the code she’d received via email for our bus and entry tickets.
The bus ride was pleasant and included an audio tour as we progressed. The drive to the monument took about half an hour and we were able to walk past the ticket queue to the shuttle bus that takes people from the visitor center to the monument. After waiting in the rain for about twenty minutes, we were loaded up and bused about five minutes.
We’ve visited a number of incredible historic sites in the course of our travels in order to wonder at the longevity of their construction. From the Great Pyramids in Egypt to Petra in Jordan to the Great Wall in China, they’ve all been incredible and the value of seeing them has never diminished. We felt the same about Stonehenge – the appreciation for human ingenuity and craftsmanship doesn’t fade.
After queuing for the shuttle, we returned to the visitor center where we read through each of the exhibits outlining the history of the site and enjoyed a special exhibition comparing the pre-historic, stone-age periods of the British Isles and Japan.
We bused back to the train station and jumped on the next direct train to London. We walked back to the hotel, passing through a graffiti laden tunnel underneath the train station that had a cool Vikings piece.
We decided to take our meal at the hotel given it was still raining and we were quite tired from our early morning and the lengthy day trip. We visited the Blue Boar Pub and ordered the following:
- Blue Boar Lager
- Curried Cauliflower Soup
- Fried Cod with Chips
- Venison Pie
While Angela enjoyed her beer, the meal was average and the service was below what I’d expect for a restaurant attached to a Conrad property.
Saturday, October 1
We decided to revisit the Imperial War Museum London to see the exhibits we weren’t able to fit in on our previous trip. During this trip we saw the World War II galleries, the Holocaust galleries, artifacts from the Cold War era, and the special War Games exhibition that links video games and their portrayal of conflict. The weather was absolutely gorgeous so, again, we enjoyed our walk to the museum.
Like the World War I galleries, we felt the rest of the museum was extremely well done and left very impressed by the depth of portrayal of the soldiers’ experience from the major conflicts of the twentieth century.
We left the museum and transited to Akira at Japan House London where we met my friends David and Paul for dinner. Each of us ordered the five course experience, with three of us opting for the sushi menu and one of us opting for the robata. The dishes were uniformly delicious. The overall experience was a little odd as our waiter talked extremely softly so it was hard to communicate with him, but that was a small price to pay for such tasty morsels.
Upon our departure, we strolled to Buckingham Palace before making plans to meet up the following day and bidding adieu.
Sunday, October 2
Angela and I split up on Sunday. She left soon after breakfast to visit Windsor Castle. The journey to the castle was very straightforward, with the train terminating nearby and extremely clear signage directing visitors to the area. The ticket price includes a comprehensive audio-visual guide to the site and the staff are excited about their work and eager to tell visitors about the castle and its contents.
While the grounds are large, the parts accessible to tourists are small compared to the total size. Normally, the St. George chapel is closed on Sunday, but they were allowing visitors to go inside between services, so Angela got to see it and the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II.
Pictures are primarily constrained to the outside as they are disallowed on the interior of the castle.
A couple of hours after Angela left, I met up with Paul to transit to the stadium. We took the District Line from St. James’s Station, transferred to the Overground and alighted at White Hart Lane, a five-minute walk from the stadium entrance. Once we arrived, we met up with David, grabbed some burgers, and admired the crowds. It was really something to see so many people in such a wide variety of jerseys come out to watch an NFL game.
We made our way inside about thirty minutes before kickoff. The stadium is beautiful and a great venue to watch a game. Our seats were awesome thanks to David spotting them out of nowhere when randomly checking availability.
The pre-game ceremony included beautiful renditions of the national anthems from the United Kingdom and the United States of America as well as some colored fireworks.
We certainly got our money’s worth from the game. It was a back and forth affair that ended with an exceptionally dramatic missed field goal that caused the entire stadium to roar, half in approval and half in defeat. Many high-fives took place in our section of the stadium.
After the game, we piled on to the Overground and then transferred to the Victoria and, eventually, the Circle line to meet Angela for dinner at Dishoom Kensington. We ate family style, ordering everything on the menu that looked good and sharing it. It was an incredible meal and quite cheap!
After dinner, we returned to our hotel where we said our farewells to Paul before heading to the pub to spend a couple of hours chatting with David before wishing him well on his journey home the next day.
Monday, October 3
We decided to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral on our last day in London because we were forced to skip it due to a state funeral on a previous visit. Tickets are not cheap, but they include a handheld audio-visual guide to the site (similar to Windsor Castle).
The cathedral is quite beautiful and even more unique given the magnificent dome that sits atop it, a distinctly non-Anglican feature at the time it was built. We enjoyed exploring the structure, visiting the elevated galleries, and seeing some of the most famous tombs in the crypt, including those of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, famously killed at the Battle of Trafalgar by a French sniper.
After we exited the crypt, we made our way to Buns from Home where we selected two cinammon buns, a cardamom bun, and a chocolate hazelnut bun to enjoy with some flat whites from Coffee Island. The buns were delicious and we highly recommend them.
We walked back to the hotel after our treat, grabbed our bags, and took the tube to London Heathrow Airport. After clearing security in about a fifth of the time that I expected, we visited the British Airways lounge to await our flight.
It was slightly delayed, but we made it to Paris without issue. Surprisingly, the meal served on the forty minute flight was absolutely scrumptious and the coffee was a true delight. For me, this was by far the best meal experience on a short-haul flight I’ve ever had.
After clearing immigration, we walked the five minutes to the airport hotel and crashed for the night in preparation for our departure early the next morning. I highly recommend the Sheraton at CDG for anyone needing an overnight at the airport. It is extremely convenient.
Tuesday, October 4
After a quick breakfast, we walked to the terminal. The check-in process for our flight was much faster than I expected so we ended up near our gate about three hours before our flight. Unfortunately, the concourse we were in did not have a lounge so we spent the bulk of our time sitting around near the gate waiting for the boarding announcement after doing ten laps of the relatively short concourse.
Our flight from Paris to Frankfurt was pleasant and, when we landed, we immediately cleared border control and security before depositing ourselves at the Lufthansa Bistro Lounge near Gate C14. I enjoyed our time here as it was much quieter than the main Lufthansa Business lounges and had many of the same amenities.
Our flight home to Las Vegas departed on time. Angela and I both ate enough before the flight to skip meal service and I’m glad we did as none of the options looked or smelled particularly appetizing. I did choose to have a few snacks on the flight and, while Angela slept the majority of our journey, I spent most of my time writing this blog post.
We had a delightful trip and I particularly enjoyed attending the NFL game in London with two of my closest friends. We will return to London in the future for more sightseeing, including pressing further away from the city into broader England, and also to enjoy the nation’s delicious flavors.