In my last installment, I discussed choosing flights and arrival days. Now we are truly setting off on our Adventures by Disney trip. First stop: the Tower of London.
Our wonderful Adventure Guides had designated a meeting location for the morning. We had an early start so we could go into the Tower of London and see the Crown Jewels without the crush of tourists to come later in the day.
On our motor coach, we met our lovely driver and our amazing London expert guide, Sarah. All ABD destinations will have a local expert or step-on guide in addition to your ABD Guides. In London, all tour guides are licensed and have gone through hours of training and testing to become so.
Not only was Sarah extremely knowledgable about all things London, royal and historic, but she was also very engaging. I never saw a script or notes. She just spoke to us, narrating our trip through London and at each place we visited. Even when we took an unexpected detour through St. James's Park, Sarah was guiding us, sharing tidbits and making the entire journey interesting and memorable.
Our first official tour was at The Tower of London. We were met by a Beefeater who was funny and engaging. Luckily for us, one of the new ravens, Georgie, was out and about with the Raven Master. Then we were brought inside to see the Crown Jewels. No photos were permitted, so you'll have to take my word for it. These are no ordinary gems!
After the Crown Jewels tour, Sarah gave us a history lesson about some of the famous and infamous people who lived and died at the Tower. Then we had some free time to explore, shop or get a snack.
Our next stop was at Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. Sarah had a spot ready for us to take photos with the palace in the background. With the huge crowd around the palace, we were so grateful to have our expert guides! They kept everyone together and Sarah had us walk to a spot where there was absolutely no one and we watched the guards, looking so smart in their uniforms, come through on horseback. What a wonderful sight!!
A rather large protest was taking place that day, which made us change our plans a bit. We were scheduled to get back on the Coach and go to lunch. However, to avoid the traffic snarl from the protest, we walked through St. James' Park which turned out to be absolutely lovely!
*You will get an itinerary for your trip. There are no times listed on it which confuses people. The times are left off for good reason though. You never really know what can happen that can disrupt the plans for the day. Rather than commit to a certain time, the Guides will change things up so your tour is as seamless as possible.
We enjoyed a pub lunch next. And, our Guides had all of our meal orders and had pre-printed little cards with our orders on them. We sat where we wanted and they set them at our spot. This saved a ton of time and confusion. Our food was delicious and we were ready for our next activity - Westminster Abbey!
Here we broke into smaller groups and another expert guide took half of us while the other half went with Sarah. This worked out great inside the crowded Cathedral. Again, we learned a lot and we had time to shop and be on our own a bit.
Next up - a change of pace! Time for a high speed boat ride on the Thames a la James Bond! We had a bit of a walk to the boat launch, but it was a lovely, sunny afternoon. The boat ride was exhilarating and we saw another side of London.
*This highlights what works so well for families on an Adventures by Disney trip. The pacing! There are so many fascinating historic sites in a city like London or Paris. It would be tempting to pack a day with one after another. ABD, however, knows one can only take in so many of those and everyone, especially the younger folks, need a change.
After this, we had time on our own for dinner or whatever. Some families went for a spin on the London Eye (our Guides took their purchases from the day back to the hotel - now that's service!). Our family met up with a local friend for dinner.
Mary Graham is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters & Castles Travel. With a focus on Family Travel, Mary enjoys planning adventures for her clients so they can make magical memories of their own. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.