London Adventures – Day 4

We all slept hard last night. At one point though L woke me up by repeatedly poking me in the eyeball for water. How did he even find my eye in the dark? Why did he walk all the way around the bed past his father for me? Mystifying parenting questions. But we all managed to sleep into 9am, which is a miracle!

After our hotel breakfast we debated our best chances for a church service, the location, and time. The draw for my non-catholic husband is you get to save the hefty admission fee if you go for a service. πŸ™„ But we’d missed the morning ones at that point so we hoped to make it to a late afternoon or evening service. So we headed for King’s Cross Station hoping to find Platform 9 3/4 and get a little Harry Potter fix. We’d stupidly left buying tickets to Harry Potter Studio till about a month before our trip. Having no idea they’d sell out as fast as they do. Ugh that’s our biggest regret is had we’d known we could have bought tickets in time. Our kids are HUGE Harry Potter fans, as are we. So we thought we’d do what we could and find the platform and take a picture with half trolley. It was out of the way and by the time we got there it was noonish. We located the platform and the lines were insane!!! Over an hour wait to take a picture with the half trolley. Our kids were super disappointed they weren’t really going on the train to Hogwarts or that we couldn’t get to Diagon Alley. It was totally lame. Here’s the best photo I could get, and it’s of someone else. πŸ˜”

So we waited in line to get into the store. Which only took about ten minutes thank goodness. But was insanely packed with people and the worst place to have a stroller and two kids who wanted everything!!! We managed to survive it though and all we bought were two chocolate frogs, a packet of Berties Every Flavor Beans and a Gryffindor headband for R. They really wanted the large Hedwig, as you can tell.

We left there and went to see Buckingham Palace. Neat but swamped with people. We took a few photos. Saw the guards walk around a bit, possibly changing of the guard, don’t really know. Then we headed back to the tube for lunch and the Museum of Natural history.

The museum of Natural History was packed!! Right in the entry there is a cool escalator that goes up through a giant globe. So that’s the first thing the kids wanted to do. I got the stroller and headed for the nearest elevator since it wasn’t allowed. Well myself and two dads with their empty strollers proceeded to take a tour of all three other levels in that museum trying to catch up with our families. It got pretty ridiculous how either we got off on the wrong floor, or the elevator would take us down instead of up. We ended up working as a team for about 15 minutes trying to locate our families. Ah the joys of family travel!

The museum was neat but it was also overwhelming with people and noise. So we tried to enjoy it but that’s an exhausting combination.

We made it through and just outside they’ve set up the perfect tourist trap. You have to walk past a carousel and and ice skating rink! We gave into the carousel by told them they could ice skate at home for free. πŸ˜†

L of course sat next to some random woman who was riding it by herself. R was in the inside horse so I couldn’t get a good photo of either of them. What’s the point then?!

We left there to catch the tube to Westminster Abbey. Which was amazingly empty so the kids had a dance party at station stops.

We figured out that this is Big Ben. I’d heard that they were working on it but didn’t expect all this scaffolding.

Saw a bit of Parliament. But I’m guessing it’s more impressive during the day.

But we did get to attend an Organ Recital at Westminster Abbey. It was incredible to hear that old pipe organ play. I’ve been wanting to hear one of those since we’ve begun visiting these old European churches. We didn’t stay for the full mass. It was getting late and everyone was tired, hungry and getting a bit cranky.

We took the tube back near our hotel. Found a great Thai restaurant and had a wonderful and quick meal.

Per our usual New Year’s Eve plans it is now ten o’clock. The kids are asleep and we probably will be soon as well. Happy New Year! We are looking forward to starting off 2018 as we love to, with more amazing travel. We’re off to Vienna tomorrow!

London Adventures – Day 3

This was going to be our big sightseeing day. We set an alarm to wake up by 7. No one was happy about the alarm but breakfast at the hotel was nice and calm at least. Then we set off for the London Tower. We read it gets crazy during the day so we wanted to be there right as it opened. We got there about 30 mins after it opened and it was just fine. We ended up leaving our stroller just inside the entry gate and walked around the whole outer wall/walkway.

We saw the Crown Jewels. They are incredible!! The diamonds were huge. The crowns numerous. Just not something you get to see every day. Then we came across a live performance they had on the grounds. The king and queen came through as well as their fool and entourage. The kids loved that part.

After exploring all of the grounds we grabbed a quick lunch nearby and walked to the Tower Bridge (aka what everyone calls London Bridge). You get to go up into the towers and walk across them. They have fun clear floor portions so you can see down into the road and water. Touristy but very neat. At some point L was using my phone to take pictures too.

From there we walked along the River Thames till we got to the Monument. Which we of course had to climb up!

Afterwards we stopped for a snack break then went to the Transportation Museum, which we’d heard time and again the kids would love. This Museum was fun! The kids got a map with locations of different stamps for them to find. This kept them on the hunt and the museum offered a great hands on glimpse of the different modes of travel through the ages in London. Very cool to explore and we left with some fun artwork.

We closed it down at 6pm and found our way to a small little indian restaurant. Everyone had happy tummies so we hopped on the tube and got everyone to bed. Where thankfully it was a quick bedtime routine before everyone was asleep.

London Adventures – Day 2

We slept in a bit today which was really nice! After breakfast at the hotel which was a total mad house. Like as soon as staff would bring something out it’d be gone in 30 seconds and they ran out of clean cups and plates. 😬 We managed to get enough to feed ourselves and then headed to the tube. Our goal today was the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland! We knew today was pretty much all for the kids. It’s a giant amusement park that has free entry but you pay for each ride or game or show. We booked ourselves the Cinderella on Ice show first.

< It was pretty good. Nothing outstanding. But the fairy godmother on stilt skates was impressive. Afterwards we went to say hello to Santa! R was a bit shy, but L raced right up to see him. Both kids were asking for more presents since Santa only seems to bring them little presents that'll fit into our suitcase. ☺️

After chatting up the big guy we walked around a bit before going to our second show. The circus! We were all pretty excited about this since Ty is the only one who’s actually been to the circus before. We were able to snag front row seats which was fun. I think we had high hopes for this show as well but again it was a bit of a let down. A singer with some so-so whip and lasso skills, a group of acrobats, a magician that seemed to flub his underwater trick, a somewhat entertaining clown type person, and probably the best was a tiny Italian guy who flipped up and down in a giant rotating metal wheel. But the kids got a kick out of it and it was fun to see with them. I’ll probably still say that we haven’t attended a real circus though.

Our last ticketed item was to ride the big wheel they had. We looked into riding the London Eye and it was super expensive and we’ve done these in other cities so we figured we’d compromise on the smaller wheel at Wonderland. We had a great view of the amusement park and a bit of the city. But mostly we enjoyed sitting down, and having a snack break.

Before we left we let the kids pick out one ride. The two roller coasters R really wanted to ride she or L wasn’t tall enough for so we talked them into some Fireman’s funhouse. Again, they enjoyed it. Which was the point of this whole place!

After that we called it a day for the Wonderland and took off across the park.

Ty had read that some museums stay open late the last Friday of the month. So we were hoping to get some Museum time in.

Both kiddos fell asleep on the walk over. Also the museums apparently don’t stay open late in December. So we had about an hour to do a quick run through the Science Museum since the kids were still sleeping.

After waking up two grumpy kiddos we scrambled to find dinner close by. It was a super busy area and we ended up grabbing sushi takeout and eating next door in the Starbucks because it was the only place with seating for four. Whatever at that point we were going bonkers with hunger!

Food in our tummies we headed back to the tube and the hotel. I proceeded to crash by 9pm but apparently the kids wanted to stay up late and chat. I was woken up at 11pm to a kiddo being tossed into my bed and Ty separating them with the consequence of no more desserts while we’re in London. Ah, the dreaded fall out from too long of a nap. Everyone eventually feel asleep except for myself. I was then up till 2:30am! Time change, jet lag, and hotel rooms with kids are a brutal combination for a nights sleep.

London Travel & Day 1 Adventures

So we left New York City bright and early. Got to JFK airport just fine. We had two hours before our flight so we went to the lounge. Ty’s got that system figured out with the right credit card that gets us into about 80% of the lounges out there. It’s a life saver when traveling with kids to have a quiet space to get away to. The free food and drinks are also a huge plus!

We boarded our flight just fine and took off for London. Now this was our first time flying Norwegian Airlines. Ty gave me a heads up before our flight that unless you pay for it you won’t get any food. Which was fine since it was a 5.5 hour flight and we grabbed a bunch of snacks and some cans of juice from the lounge. πŸ˜‰ But what I didn’t expect was that they practically ignore you if you haven’t paid for food service. No water, or any drink is offered. They basically wouldn’t pick up our trash unless it was shoved at them or we placed it in their trash bags ourselves! I found that part totally bizarre. Why would you not want to maintain the cleanliness of your airlines? But other than that odd bit, the seats were nice, they had built in screens and chargers, with plenty of leg room.

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With a five hour time change we didn’t get into London till 11:30pm. We knew it would be late night so Ty had booked us a hotel that was a 10 minute walk from the airport. We grabbed some food at a grocery store in the airport, so convenient! Then made it to the hotel and had the kids fed and in bed by 1am. Seems late but didn’t feel quite that bad due to the time change.

So I was of course awake at 6:30am but Ty and the kids, I had to wake them up at 10:30! We packed up and headed back to the airport about 11:30, to catch the train into the city. Again, grabbed some breakfast from the airport grocery store before figuring out the train system. This beginning our long drawn out ordeal of getting to our next hotel.

We made it to the right platform but got on the wrong train. Not figuring that out till it had already pulled away. Ty being the map reader extraordinaire that he is, had a new route planned out in no time. We got off at the London Bridge stop took a short walk from the train station to the tube and also got to see a few sights.

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We made it to the tube and got on the train headed in the right direction. Got off one stop too early and found out from a nice gentleman they’re doing line maintenance right on the end of the line we wanted. So we hopped back on the train and got off again at the next stop. Talked with the local workers and figured out it was easier to walk to the hotel then try and mess with the local bus.

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This was right outside the tube trying to make sure we were going to right way to the hotel. This was at 2:30pm, so it’s been three hours and we’re still trying to find our hotel. Everyone was a bit over it by this point. Not exactly the most efficient use of our time in London but this is real life travel. At least the views were nice!

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About 20 more minutes of walking, including an extra five past our hotel. Thank goodness Ty spotted it behind us! Even traveling as light as we are it’s still tiring pulling a suitcase or carrying a 40 pound kid on your back. It was very nice to finally check in and unload all the unnecessarys.

It was getting late and we’d hoped to have high tea and make it to the Transportation Museum today. However, we ran out of time and had to choose one. Hoping we will have time for the museum later we went for high tea at The Delaunay . I had found it online and it had reasonable prices compared to everywhere else I had researched. Knowing our kids were a bit young to fully enjoy either the tea or the finger foods. I still really wanted that experience with them and R is so into everything fancy I knew she’d really enjoy it.

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Hot chocolate for the boys.

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Right before she spilled tea down the front of herself. I told her to raise her pinky and she tipped the whole cup instead. 😬

The food was so pretty! The kids liked about half the desserts. The scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam were my favorite! It was completely fun to try but the kids didn’t really enjoy the food and it was way to fancy for real life. But really we went for the experience, and I’m so glad we tried. No one broke anything, and we didn’t seem to bother anyone around us. SUCCESS!

Afterwards we walked around the Covent Garden Market.

So when we first arrived at Covent Garden station everyone was queuing up for the lift. We couldn’t figure out why everyone was waiting for the elevator?! So we passed them all and headed for the stairs. Then we saw this sign which explained it.

This station was WAY underground and you had to climb up 193 steps to exit the underground. It was a hoot, Ty carrying the stroller, myself, and our two rather young kids were passing up quite a few people on the way up those stairs! Was fun to experience but we definitely took the lifts on the way back down.

So after arriving back to our closest station we head back to the hotel and Linc starts fussing about wanting to get in the stroller. This starts an epic fit he threw for about 30 minutes. All the way through the station, down the street, over a bridge and through the town till we got to our hotel. We wouldn’t let him get into the stroller till he stopped fussing. Well he never managed to calm himself so he walked the entire way.

This was one of a few stops to pout and pretend he wasn’t coming with me. There was yelling, threats and tears. It was quite an event.

Ty and R stopped to get some crepes for dinner but there was no way I was taking L into a restaurant. So he and I went back to the hotel. Where he was promptly fine and dropped all attitude.

Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart! It can be so rewarding and amazing. Ryder had a wonderful conversation with a young man from Vietnam on the train today. She learned he speaks 5 languages and how that she could do the same if she wanted. On the other hand, you have to be tough enough to handle stares from strangers wondering why your child is throwing themselves on the ground screaming. Or the embarrassment from your child loudly announcing they just wiped their booger on the grab bar on the metro. And that’s just what happened today!

New York City Adventures

Oh my, we did all the walking today! Over 21k steps (roughly 10 miles)!!! And I’d say 90% of that was just in Central Park. What an impressive space.

We moved over to our new hotel and grabbed a donut breakfast along the way. Then we headed up to explore Central Park.

You can see our luggage situation here. Just one small carry on, the kids backpacks. Ty’s is under the stroller and he’s wearing our other ‘Big‘ bag. That’s it and so far we’re really happy with what we’ve brought and how it’s working.

We immediately stopped at the first playground we saw. Apparently there are about 20 of them in Central Park. I think we played at 5 of them. And we were there all day!

We looked at the skate rink (we’re too cheap to actually rent skates!) πŸ˜†

<<< andered to a few more playgrounds before I really started to freeze. I had on two wool under layers, a heavy long sleeve fleece, a down vest, a puffy coat, a rain coat and two pairs of pants! Plus hat and mittens of course. Still was getting cold. So we found a place to have lunch off the Upper East side of the park. Warmed up with some yummy food and hot tea. Then we loaded the kids back up and they immediately fell asleep. Ty with L on his back and R bundled under Ty's raincoat in the stroller. <<< y and I took advantage of the quietness and were able to put some more miles in through the park. We found the Alice in Wonderland statue. <<< h the pond across from it you always see people sailing toy boats on in the movies. <<< ade our way to the lake in the upper part of the Park. <<< ent quickly past a few more playgrounds till we figured an hour nap was long enough and woke the kiddos up. <<< layed for a bit before everyone was starting to get cold so I took over L carrying duty and we started our way back to the hotel. Stopping for one more playground break on the way of course! We lounged in the hotel and tried to let the kids watch something on the Cartoon Network but everything was terrible. L kept asking us to skip it. Can you tell we don't have regular tv at home? πŸ˜„ Ty did some online research and found us this yummy sounding restaurant for authentic New York pizza. But when we got there the line was out the door. So we ended up at his second choice 99 cent pizza which we just took back to the hotel room.

This was actually super good!! Also a totally wonderful and stress free way to end the day. Early to rise tomorrow to catch our flight to LONDON!

Had a wonderful but very small taste of New York. Would have loved to have done more but no complaints about all we managed to see.

Traveling to New York City

This is the start to our 5th Annual Hampton Family Christmas Adventure! At least this year we stayed in town till Christmas Eve. Thanks to R being in school now we really are trying to be responsible parents. πŸ˜„

Our trip plan is a few days in New York City, on to London through New Years Day, then Prague, and Vienna, about 4 Days each, Bratislava for 1 day (it was so close, why not!) and Stockholm for a few days before heading back home. My husbands travel goals are the most countries we can possibly make in one trip. I try to keep it to a minimum of 4 days in each location. Less than that and it’s too short.

Our flight was delayed an hour and we left Anchorage at 9pm, Christmas Eve. Interesting day to travel, lots of Christmas jammies in sight and we even spied Santa getting off an earlier flight. πŸŽ…πŸ»

This flight to Chicago was 6 hours and went smoothly. L and I had been up since 5am so he passed right out. I think I managed about 4.5 hours of sleep. So that’s a major win for me! Landed in freezing Chicago. Why is their airport so cold?! Snagged some bagels for breakfast and putted around since we had almost a 2 hour layover.

Quick 2 hour flight to Newark airport and we walked straight off the plane and caught the shuttle bus to Manhattan. So easy with no checked bags and no wait for the shuttle!

Grimy bus window photo but first glimpse of downtown New York!!

Our hotel room wasn’t ready yet since this was about 11am. So we walked straight to Bryant Park since it was half a block away. They had a Christmas Market set up with a tree and ice rink. We just browsed a bit while L feel immediately asleep in the carrier on Ty.

We walked passed the NY Public Library

Then headed to Central Station. I thought they were having a model train exhibition but of course it wasn’t there today. But was still neat to see in person.

Had some lunch by the hotel then we went back and begged for a room that was ready. We were running out of steam and were pretty cold by this point. They took pity on us, being Alaskan also always seems a novelty in our favor. Thank goodness! We got to the room and the kids found the presents that Santa managed to sneak into our suitcase during our flight. He can find us anywhere!

Please ignore the fact that while L still had his coat and boots on R had managed to remove all of hers. πŸ˜†

I rested a bit, the kids listened to Harry Potter audiobook and played with their new toys. Ty somehow stayed awake this whole time!

About 5pm we bundled up with more layers and headed out to see some more sights.

Took us a bit but we finally found THE tree at Rockefeller Center.

Why is it the kids are always the moody ones?!

Had to fight through the crowd to get a glimpse of the rink.

Had a yummy Indian dinner and then we briefly checked out Time Square before calling it a night. Again so many tourists!!

A fun but long day. Thankfully no issues to report. Moving hotels tomorrow and hoping to explore Central Park. So fun to finally see these sights in person!

Oh one thing we’ve noticed about this city is the amount of trash that’s blowing around. Granted it was quite windy today but I’ve never been in a big city where trash was just in the air and all over the streets. It’s different…

Packing Light for a Warm Destination

Whenever I start thinking of packing for a trip I was always looking for blog posts that would help give me an idea of what or how much to pack. I wasn’t ever able to find really detailed information. The ones I did find were for people who had their own suitcase. Ha! Such a luxury, to not have to share a tiny carry on suitcase. That’s just not our style. So I’m going to detail what clothes we took on our trip, for a family of four, and how we managed to get it all into two very small carry on suitcases. (I will actually only detail for myself and the kids, no idea what Ty packed for himself, he’s a grown man!) πŸ™‚

For my 6 year old daughter, R:

  • 2 dresses
  • 2 shorts (she really only needed 1 pair, as she wore dresses mostly)
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 pair of pants (for the airplane mostly)
  • 1 summer pjs
  • 1 long sleeve shirt (for the airplane)
  • 3 tank tops (could have done with 2)
  • 1 t shirt
  • 4 underware
  • 2 socks (really only needed 1 for the aiplane days)
  • 1 pair crocs and 1 Velcro sandal

For my 4 year old son, L:

  • 3 t shirts (way overkill, needed only 1)
  • 3 tank tops (probably could have done just 2)
  • 4 shorts (needed only 3 max)
  • 2 pants (needed only 1 pair for airplane days)
  • 1 long sleeve shirt/hoodie (for airplane days)
  • 1 summer pjs
  • 3 underwear (could have used more, potty training issues when traveling)
  • 3 socks (really only needed 1 pair)
  • 2 pairs sandals, one pair covered his toes

For myself, no age necessary: πŸ˜„

  • capri yoga pants (didn’t need these)
  • light weight travel pants (wore on airplane days)
  • 2 tank tops
  • 2 t shirts (really only needed 1)
  • 1 long sleeve (wore on airplane days)
  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt (totally not needed but I wanted to bring it)
  • 2 shorts (one jean shorts, the pockets were nice to have, one pair of running shorts)
  • 3 socks (overkill, needed 1 pair)
  • 3 bras (could have done with two or one even)
  • 4 underwear (could have done with 2 pairs)
  • 1 pair flip flops, 1 pair Chaco sandals, 1 pair super light tennis shoes

Swimwear

  • swim trunks for L and suits for R and myself
  • 3 swim shirts for all of us
  • 3 goggles
  • 1 pair of arm floaties for L

So the reason we didn’t need a ton of undergarments was since we were at the beach and the pool a lot we spent entire days in our swimwear. I personally wore either the dress or a tank and running shorts to bed for pjs so separate pjs aren’t needed. The apartments we stayed in had laundry so when needed we would just throw some clothes in. This is a big factor in cutting down on what you bring.

<<< e kids each had their own packing cube, I put the swim gear in a separate packing cube. These are the one's I got onΒ Amazon.Β I have larger clothes than the kids so I used a compression sackΒ for myself and Ty had his own as well. These really are the secret to how we travel with such small bags. We even got my mom to start using one when she travels with us!

<<< re's the suitcase with my uncompressed bag of clothes. We added in Ty's compression bag of clothes and our bathroom bag. I'm currently struggling with how we will pack this light for our Christmas trip to Europe. Winter clothes are so much bulkier so that's the challenge. I'll try and post before we go with my progress.