London

We boarded the train in York and arrived at King’s Cross on July 7, briefly stopping at Platform 9 3/4 before depositing our bags at the AirBnB in London.

Then, I met my distant German relative, Andreas, and his girlfriend to tour the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio, and it was amazing.

I think this excursion was supposed to be for the children, but I was looking forward to it as much as anyone in the family, if not more.

I read all the books (that were out at the time) while in Iraq in 2003 and then finished the subsequent ones as they came out, and I’d seen all the movies.  The children had all read the first book before we let them see the movie and take the tour.  Andreas was also a fan, but his girlfriend had neither seen any of the movies nor read the books.  Nonetheless, they loved it, too.

There was the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, 4 Privet Drive, the Leaky Cauldron, Hagrid’s Hut, Dumbledore’s office, the Griffindor Boys’ Dorm, and a chance to fly on a broom.

It was awesome, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s read or seen “Harry Potter” and finds himself within the vicinty of London.

The next day, we boarded a bus before 5am to see sunrise at Stonehenge.

Our tour bus stopped in Salisbury on the way back to London, so we could explore Salisbury Cathedral (home of the Magna Carta!) and the Church of St Thomas Becket there.

That evening (Friday, July 8), we met up with the 11 hikers who’d be traversing Hadrian’s Wall with me, starting the next morning, when I’d break from my family for our nearly 100-mile hike.

My bride and the children still had a few more days in London to explore the city.  On Saturday the 9th, they went to the National Gallery to take in the art, the Victoria & Albert museum to take in more art and some artifacts, the London Science Museum, and the Churchill War Rooms (something I’d really wanted to do before I left, but the line was too long after our day at Stonehenge) before having ice cream in Hyde Park.

The next day, Sunday, they toured the Tower of London, rode the London Eye, and saw the Prime Meridian in Greenwich and toured the Cutty Sark ship there.  They loved it.

Monday, they rode a double-decker bus around town and visited the Sherlock Holmes museum before spending the afternoon at the British Museum.  Also a great day for them.

Tuesday morning, they boarded an early flight back to the States, very confident that they’d seen all they’d wanted to see in London, and loving every day they spent there!

The days after I’d left were all planned by my 10-year-old, a privilege we told her she’d get for her birthday, and it really meant a lot to her to have us trust her with planning several days of our trip.  Now, of course, the other two are planning where their “big trips” will be when they’re 10!  Many of the ideas came to her from a video we checked out at the library called “Travel with Kids” focusing on London (I believe it’s a series; we’ll be looking for it next time we go somewhere with them for sure!).

I can’t wait for our next international destination with the children:  Paris!

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