As many of you may know, I work as a travel agent as my day job. I do plan trips for other people for a living and I of course feel more confident if I personally know the person I’m planning the trip for. My Aunt visited me from the Philippines and I started planning her holiday months in advance, she doesn’t even have her UK visa yet and I already had a final itinerary for her.
A bit about my Aunt, she gave me the travel bug at a very early age. We used to explore the islands of the Philippines together staying in random and odd accommodations including a classroom of a school during a school break (thankfully). She’s a retired educator and now runs her own school. So the two main things that I had to consider while creating her itinerary were 1. she’s an educator and 2. she’s (way beyond) in the retirement age. I then chose places to see around London (and beyond) which I know she’d appreciate – the historical places which thankfully is abundant in London.
She stayed with us for 14 days and to be honest, it wasn’t enough. Considering her age, I didn’t want to pack all the days with so many places to visit specially since some of these places will require for us to spend hours in to truly appreciate and enjoy it. Also, I had to work during some of the days that she’s here so those days were her break from all the sightseeing which I think she needed.
Having put all those things into consideration, here’s what I came up with:
A 14-Day London Itinerary For My Senior Citizen Aunt
You can click on the highlighted links for more detailed blog posts about each place.
06 Nov: Hampton Court Palace
She arrived on a flight from the US in the morning, she didn’t want to take a nap after the trip as she said it will probably mess up her body clock even more if she does so we immediately started our London exploration with a visit to my favorite place – the Hampton Court Palace. I live in Kingston which is very near to where the palace is so before heading off to the palace, I toured her a bit around Kingston Town Centre and then we took the bus to Hampton Court. I normally walk but it wouldn’t be a good idea for her.
Hampton Court Palace is all about the famous King Henry VIII, as an educator she loved the very informative audio guide. We spent the whole afternoon in the palace before going back home for dinner.
07 Nov: Kensington Palace and Gardens
I had to go to the Greek Embassy in the morning to renew my Schengen visa so I dragged my Aunt along with me. Afterwards, we passed through the beautiful Holland Park and had an amazing lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Kensington – Babylon. It definitely is the kind of restaurant where you take visitors to, food is great and the view’s amazing.
To burn some calories, we walked it off around Kensington Gardens passing through Kensington Palace. I didn’t include a visit to Kensington Palace in our itinerary because I wasn’t really a big fan of it.
We then went to the Natural History Museum to show her the ice rink which was already open at the time. I love London during Christmastime because of all the lights, ice rinks and Christmas markets which pops up all around the city and of course, I wanted for her to experience it.
At home, we watched the movie Notting Hill so my Aunt will be reminded of the places featured in the movie as I’m planning to take her there in the coming days. We both love films and travel and it’s always nice to combine both isn’t it?
08 Nov: Dinner by the Tower Bridge
I had to work this day so she had a whole day of sightseeing break. For dinner, I took her to Butler’s Wharf Chophouse – a restaurant by the Tower Bridge. There was nothing extremely special about the restaurant though apart from the view of the Tower Bridge. It was freezing that night so we had to go home right after our dinner.
09 Nov: Cambridge
As an educator, I just had to take her to one of the university cities outside of London. As much as I’d love to take her to both Cambridge and Oxford, I thought the train journeys will be too much for her. As I’ve already been to Oxford before, I took her to Cambridge instead so it will be new for both of us.
We took a guided tour but because we missed the train that we’re supposed to take out of London, we missed the first part of the tour. My Aunt loves guided tours just like I do because you get to know and appreciate a place more if you have someone with you telling you the important facts about it. As expected, she enjoyed exploring the different colleges around Cambridge and she even bought a Cambridge-published physics book which she can use in her school.
After the tour, we took the Cambridge River Tour which again is a must-do activity while in Cambridge. I wasn’t able to go for a river punting while I was in Oxford so I was determined that I must do it while in Cambridge. The tour includes a guide who is funny and at the same time informative. I really liked that tour, I think it was the highlight of my Cambridge visit.
So the age-old question, what do I prefer? Oxford or Cambridge? I have to say that aesthetically, I liked Oxford better and I’m not really sure why as it somehow looks similar. I also liked the colleges we visited in Oxford more than the ones in Cambridge. I do however, find the graduates of Cambridge more interesting than Oxford’s. Cambridge graduates are mostly scientists including Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing while Oxford graduates are mostly politicians.
After our visit to Cambridge, we took the train back to London and had a quick stop in Winter Forest in Broadgate where my Aunt had her first taste of bratwurst. 🙂
10 Nov: Notting Hill, Victoria and Albert Museum and Covent Garden
I had to go back to the Greek embassy to get my passport in the morning so once again, I dragged my Aunt along with me to the embassy. Afterwards, we walked around Notting Hill visiting some of the movie locations of the movie. I’ve never done that before, purposely looking for places that I’ve seen in a movie and it was actually quite fun to do.
Fun fact: The original blue door of Hugh Grant’s apartment in the movie was auctioned for charity so the door that you see there now isn’t the original one. In case you’d like to see it for yourself, it’s on 280 Westbourne Park Road.
We went afterwards to Victoria and Albert Museum where we spent the whole afternoon. We first had a light lunch in the beautiful museum cafe before exploring the exhibits.
Once we’ve had our dose of culture and art, we met The Greek Mister in a restaurant called Sticks n Sushi in Covent Garden which was amazing! It does deserve a separate post, the food’s that good!
From Covent Garden we walked towards Waterloo station where we’re taking the train to get home through Waterloo Bridge so that my Aunt will be able to see the beautiful view of the River Thames with Big Ben covered in scaffolding (boo hoo) and the Lodon Eye.
11 Nov: Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap
I didn’t plan anything the whole day except to watch the longest running play in London at 2pm. I’m a HUGE fan of Agatha Christie and I’ve been wanting to see this play since we arrived. Just like any Agatha Christie novels, the Mousetrap is a murder mystery which will have you guessing who’s the killer. When the killer finally revealed himself or herself, there was a gasp in the audience. At the end of the play, we were asked by the actor to not reveal the killer to anyone who has not seen the play. 🙂
We had dinner in Covent Garden again but the restaurant that we originally had a booking for was not to our liking so we just randomly chose a restaurant which had an available table at the time. Nothing worth noting about the dinner really. :p
At home, we watched The Theory of Everything which surprisingly my Aunt has not seen yet. I thought it would be nice for her to see so she’ll be reminded of our trip to Cambridge as the whole movie’s shot there.
12 Nov: Westminster Cathedral and the London Dungeon
Being a Sunday and as a devout Catholic, I had to take my Aunt to Westminster Cathedral to attend the 10am mass. We were supposed to have our lunch in Chinatown but I mistakenly took both mine and The Greek Mister’s house keys with me so we had to go back home to give one back to him. Lol. We instead had our lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Kingston and met The Greek Mister at a pub so we can all go back to Central London together.
We went to London Dungeon which I knew my Aunt will love. It tells you the history of London in a scary/funny way. At first, my Aunt was very hesitant to enter the dungeon as she thought that it will be too scary for her. As I’ve already been there before, I knew that it was more funny than scary. After the first few minutes, she started to enjoy it and had a great time for the rest of the tour. It was hilarious to see her and The Greek Mister jumping when they get scared. Lol.
We had a Turkish dinner nearby afterwards and then made our way back home.
13 Nov: Greenwich
We spent the entire day in Greenwich at the Royal Observatory which my Aunt loved! We took our time listening to the very informative audio guide as my Aunt explored the whole exhibit in depth. She wondered in amazement at the thought of how incredible human inventions were at the time. Creating something out of nothing, that really is something to wonder about.
We had lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant and called it a day at 4pm to avoid the very busy peak hours of London. I didn’t want her to be trampled over in the tube.
14 Nov: Aunt’s Day Off
I had to work the whole day today so my Aunt had a break from all the sightseeing. 🙂
15 Nov: Kew Gardens
When I first visited the Kew Gardens last year, my Aunt and my Mom immediately came to my mind. I thought that they’d both love it as they both like gardening. Unfortunately, I completely forgot that I went there during spring and it’s now autumn. It was only when we arrived that I realized that it might look completely different and I wasn’t wrong. The Great Board Walk was lacking of the beautiful flowers which I saw during springtime and there were a lot of equipment all around the massive Kew Garden as they prepare for Christmas at Kew.
Our visit was saved by a complimentary tour offered by Kew Gardens called Kew in Wartime Walking Tour. It talked about the role Kew Gardens played during the war which was surprisingly a lot! We both enjoyed the tour as we learned the medicinal value of some of the plants planted there and are very familiar to us.
Fun Fact: Did you know that they used chestnuts as soap back then? :p
16 Nov: Christmas Tree Lighting in Kingston.
I had to go to a work-related training in Central London so the whole day was a break for my Aunt. When I returned from the training, we went to Kingston Town Center to witness the lighting of the Christmas tree. They do it in a festive way with carol singing, live band and other Christmass-y entertainment. My Aunt loved watching the band as they played Christmas carols with the huge Christmas tree behind them.
At exactly 6pm, the Christmas tree was lit along with the Christmas lights. We then had our dinner at the Kingston Town Center converted into a cozy Christmas Market which I still think is the prettiest Christmas Market in London. My Aunt loved the whole Christmas vibe around London. She’s also a Christmas fanatic like I am.
I realized that we’re so much alike! I’m a younger version of my Aunt. :p
17 Nov: Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare Globe Theatre and the South Bank
We had an early day today as I wanted to take my Aunt to Buckingham Palace. Her visit to London’s almost over and she hasn’t even seen it. There’s a reason to that though, I’m not the biggest fan of crowded places and Buckingham Palace is always so crowded. We took the bus from Kingston to Buckingham Palace which my Aunt enjoyed as she gets to see places on the way unlike if we take the train or the tube. After a quick photo session, we walked across Green Park to take the tube towards Shakespeare Globe Theatre.
I immensely enjoyed the tour in Shakespeare Globe Theatre last year and once again, I thought about my Aunt when I was taking this tour last year. I knew she’d enjoy it as it’s very informative and talks a lot about Shakespeare and London during his time. We were extremely lucky that our tour guide this time around is one of the directors of the Globe – he kept us on our feet with anecdotes and theatrical way of presenting a tour. It was highly enjoyable and I absolutely recommend this tour specially if you’re a fan of theatre or Shakespeare himself.
After the tour, we walked along the Thames River towards the Tower of London. Thankfully, my Aunt didn’t want to go inside the Tower of London anymore as she’s already tired and we’ve already seen a documentary about it a few days before. At that point, I was already getting tired as well of re-visiting historical sites around London so we just spent the rest of the afternoon having a snack and coffee by the ice rink.
We then crossed the Tower Bridge and walked back towards Shakespeare Globe Theatre as that’s where the Greek restaurant where we’ll meet The Greek Mister is. The dinner wasn’t very good so I won’t even mention which restaurant it is.
We walked along South Bank towards Waterloo station to catch the train home.
18 Nov: The Boater’s Inn
It’s my Aunt’s last full day in London and I didn’t plan to do anything for this day to give my Aunt a break for her flight back to the US the next day. We had a late lunch in our favorite pub in Kingston – The Boater’s Inn where service was horrible, view was great and the food was worth the long wait. 🙂
We shopped a bit around Kingston Town Centre after our meal and headed back home so my Aunt can pack her bag.
19 Nov: Departure
We dropped off my Aunt at the airport early in the morning and made her promise that she’ll be visiting us again.
It was a great 2 weeks spent with my Aunt and I felt really good showing her around the place I fell in love with. She used to tour me around and it’s now my turn to do the same for her. She enjoyed her whole stay and it’s evident on the captions she’s putting on her photos on Facebook. :p