Day 7–20th Sept (London to Paris via Eurostar)

Early day for all, leaving for Paris via Eurostar train, kids were super excited about taking a train going under the ocean bed…. to an extent, I was just as excited Winking smile. Our transfers to the train station were arriving at the hotel at 9:15am.

Early morning breaky than all were down with their luggage by 9am. Check out all done and now it was waiting for our transfers. The first van arrived on time, however then it was a looooong wait, apparently there had been an accident which was causing a lot of grief in coming to the hotel. Our train was at 11:30, and we had to be at the station checkin one hour ahead! Clock was ticking, around 9:50, the other driver called and said he was just around the corner. Decided to send one van ahead to atleast get some of the luggage sorted and find the right place. Meeta, Tina and the kids went in the first van. It was about 10am when the other van finally arrived, quick loading of the vans and then it was out of there. It was a good 30 minutes drive time! En route to the station, we were discussing how to get quickly into checkin without missing our 1 hour closing window, problem we had were the number of luggages, we all had about two bags each per person to wheel!! Decided as soon as we arrive, Doc would take all the passports along with Nita and Meeta and the young kiddies to the check-in to commence the process, whilst we would all somehow try and get the luggage from the kerbside to the checkin counters. We did not want to miss the train!

Arriving at the station at just past 10:30am, as planned Doc, Meeta and Nita went for the checkin counters, and we were literally all at the kerbside with around 20 pieces of luggage! And there were no trolleys! What is this place, no trolleys!! What next, left two persons out on the kerbside with the luggage, Me, Tina, Prashil, Neha took as many bags inside the terminal close to the queues – which were looong. Time to leave Neha with the bags inside the terminal, and all of the rest ran out to get the next set of bags. About three rounds and we were all done. Next problem, the checkin line was moving very rapidly, which was good, however we were being asked to go in the queue with the bags – how are we supposed to move these many bags in a queue without trolleys, and by this time Doc, Nita & Meeta were almost at the check-in counters. Lady at check in counter was understanding, and informed Doc not to worry about the 1 hour early checkin, we still had a lot of time but had to get the bags through. Nita and Meeta came near the side where we were with the bags (we were outside the checkin area and outside the queues), telling us to pass the bags under the ropes that divided us and the checkin area. Customer service lady next to us was not impressed and said you cannot do that and we had to take the bags through the queues …she just was not getting it that we could not carry it amongst us few, as the others were already at the checkin. Tina got very frustrated and there was some heated exchanges between her and the customer service rep. Whilst the heated exchange was occurring between them, we started quickly sliding bags under the ropes to Nita and Meeta, in less than a minute all bags were at the check in counter and we all slipped into the checkin area – am glad Tina kept the other lady busy!

The checkin area was unlike planes, all they did was take our tickets and now we had to move with our baggage through to immigration!! Time for each family to take their own bags, me and Nita took 2 each, leaving Neha and Pooja with one hand luggage each, the same was done by others. Slowly making our way through to security screening, then through to UK departure immigration and then another set of immigration counters welcoming us to EU!!! Wow we were officially in EU, even though we were still at he London terminal Winking smile. Immigration cleared, now waiting in the busy waiting area for the doors to open to allow us to get on the platform, around 11:05am doors opened and then it was a lot of people getting onto the terminal. The train itself was very loooooooong!! Had not anticipated that Sad smile. Our tickets were for carriage 10, and we were currently at 20 (I think or thereabouts), each carriage was long so a bit of a walk. Finally got to our carriage, now to load all the bags, Doc, Vik and I made a human chain, Doc was on the platform passing bags to Vik, Vik was passing these to me, I was stacking them in the luggage area in our carriage. All luggage in, we were finally all aboard. It was only another 10 minutes and the train was moving!!! Wow what a morning it had been, a bit crazy but atleast we were all on the train and Paris was the next stop.

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Time to get some much needed refreshments for all!

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Guys settled for beers, ladies were into their sweet wines, and hot chocolates for kids, accompanied by lots of nuts, crackers and chips, that was the best we could do for food there! Then it was a chance for all to nod off for a bit.

Some interesting stats….
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Out of the tunnel it was still a while before the train arrived at its Paris stop. About 2pm we arrived, then it was unloading the baggage and walking to the arrivals area to look for our transport. Doc had organised for transport on the way to Harry Potter yesterday – am soo glad it was done, this would have been a nightmare to find transport for this many people at the station, especially with all the luggage!

Located our drivers, off to the VANs and onward to our hotel – Novotel Les Halles. To be very honest, the drive from the station to the Hotel did not pass any nice landmarks. Infact the place did not look that appealing ….hmmm hoping it would get better! Arrived at our hotel, phew this place was nice, outside were a few cafes all with chairs facing to the streets – so European!! Only see that in Hastings St back home! It was everywhere here.
The hotel was better and bigger than the Holiday Inn London. Rooms all allocated, we were next to each other on the first floor! Rooms were a decent size, nothing to complain. It was already past 4pm, time for us to get a late lunch / early dinner, everyone was hungry.
The concierge recommended we head to La Perla, an Italian place just around the corner, he was good enough to call ahead and book the place for us – awesome service!
All out on the sunny cold day, yay…. we were in Paris!
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Small walk through a park, passing a massive shopping centre which did not rise up but rather go into the ground?? Further up,  the narrow cobblestone streets were lined with food outlets, and cafes, what a place this was! Reaching the street where La Perla was – wow, this was like a market street, something I would have seen in movies or as a postcard – I am so in love with this place. I do not think my pic does justice to this street.

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Located La Perla and informed him Felix from Novotel had called! They organised our table of 12, first some drinks, and boy was it a big cocktail that came!!

 

 

Ordered a variety of Pasta and Pizza. For us 6, we ordered our pasta/risotto with extra chilli and garlic, boy did they know how to add that! This was one of the best Pesto Prawn Pasta I have had. Nita has the Salmon risotto, again just amazing.

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food pics with a view!

It was a hearty meal, kids and adults all had a good feed. Since we still had sunlight remaining, we decided to head to Eiffel tower. First back to the hotel, Doc still had to get his room, and then we all headed to Eiffel.

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(Outside the hotel waiting for our taxi to Eiffel)

On the way there, the first glimpse of Eiffel was wow!!! Neha and Pooja were OMG, this is so pretty! Finally @ Eiffel, the place was busy, well was expecting that!

 

 

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(an sometimes it is too hard….love Pooja’s ability to make faces)

Lots of pics being taken by all, we must have spent a good hour there. Time to move on, Doc suggested we take the tuk tuk to Champs Elysees! Hired two, ladies in one, men in the other, kids were shared!!

 

 

We got off near Arc De Triump, at the top end of Champs Elysees. I remember this place from the prior Dec visit, was super cold and brightly lit with xmas lights, was not the same this time. Still the place looked amazing!

 

 

For dessert we headed to the Laduree, found a table for 12, time to try some of their cakes – disappointment!! they had run out of most of their best sellers Sad smile. Only a couple of options to choose from, ordered a couple of varieties and drinks for all. Me and Vik settled on Beer – the place inside was warm and we needed a good drink! Dessert was good, kids enjoyed their hot chocolates!

Time to call it a night, now to find a taxi, for some reason there were NONE that were free, all of them were occupied!! I wanted to call UBER but the other guys did not have so that was out of the question, all had to stick together (it was our first nite here). A few more minutes, the ladies hailed a people mover VAN, asked him if he could order another one as we were 12, and the best response he gave, I will take you all, but at a price which was quite high! Then some negotiations and finally we agreed on a number. Time to load 12 people in the 8 seater!!! Somehow we did manage and infact it was not too bad, these Mercedes VANS are quite big. Drive to the hotel was interesting, all along the driver kept going on about how he hated UBER and his level of service was so good and he was all about customer service etc. A lot of one way communications…….. me and Vik were seating in the front, am glad Vik was in the middle ;). Finally all at the hotel, a few more laughs about our ride back, and the day overall, it had been a very crazy & stressful morning, but the afternoon in Paris had been nothing short of amazing!! Two extremes – we were all tired. Tomorrow was not a sleepin day, we were doing the hop on hop off bus!

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(Neha’s vlog)

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Day 6–19th September London (Harry Potter Studio Tour)

Not much to cover today, first to catch the changing of the guard at 10am and then Doc’s family, me, Pooja & Neha were heading to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Vik’s family and Nita were not interested in that one.

Neha & Pooja were up early today, very excited for Harry Potter Studio visit. Wish it was always like this! Breakfast done, we were out of the hotel by 9:20am. First up, to the changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, only a short walk through Green park.

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Passing through the park, we noticed lots of arm chairs to relax on the lawns whilst catching some sun. Even though it was overcast, me & Vik had to showcase that!

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Moving on in the park, we passed a couple of British cops, who were more than happy to take a pic with the kids.
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Arriving at Buckingham Palace, the place was PACKED!!! Not much chance of getting close to see the changing of the guards ceremony. About the same time the guards on horseback were coming by, atleast we got to see them close by.

And a couple of jumping shots……
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At this point we all decided to split up now, we were heading to Selfridges, decided to do lunch there today. Walking back through Green Park, the fall leaves were providing a great backdrop for more pics!!

 

 

Took the tube from Green Park to Oxford Circus, add a short walk and we were at Selfridges. Ladies did a bit more browsing around and then it was time for lunch, to the Selfridges food court (on level 4). Settled for the Asian variety, food was very good indeed. Recommend this place for lunch.

Around 1.30pm, we made our way out, grabbed a Taxi and were back at the hotel. At 2pm met up with Doc & family at the foyer, headed out together for Harry Potter Studio tour, each way was approx 1 hour, had to factor that in to our 4pm start time. First up, tube from Green Park to Euston, then the above ground rail to Watford Junction where we were taking the Harry Potter Shuttle.

 

Finally at Harry Potter Studios,

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Pooja was super excited, quickly through the gates and then it was hearing the ooohhhhs & aaahhhs from Pooja!!

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The entry was the best, we were taken into a room to be shown a shot video, then into a small theatre to watch on a big screen some behind the scenes footages etc. The last shot was of the giant door way. Then the white projection screen is lifted and you are looking at the projected door but now it is really there.
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Through this door our tour starts and the first room is the Hogwarts hall.

 

 

Finally onto the famous train platform.

Finished earlier than expected. It was a very good studio tour but they did lack a couple of rides or simulations! Would I visit this again – NO! Did the kids enjoy it – YES, would they come again – NO Sad smile.
Headed back and organised evening dinner at Wahaca Mexican at Covent Gardens. All left the hotel around 8.15pm. Vik had also invited Nilesh lamba to come by there. Was a good nite with a lot of good food and a lot of laughter. Lots of world cup chatter!

Called it a night, this was our final night in London, tomorrow we were heading to Paris via Eurostar.

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Day 5 – 18th Sept London (Harrods Fish n Chips, Lion King Theatre)

A free morning for all families till late afternoon, when we were all going to see the Lion King show at 7pm, till then everyone was free to roam about.

Our plan was to head to Selfridges on Oxford St, Nita & Neha wanted to do that, whilst I had to take Pooja to the K-pop store again (Seoul Bakery), unfortunately yesterday she lost her newly purchased BTS keychain and all her joy had turned sour, she had been in tears all afternoon Sad smile.

With the free morning today, I wanted to take some early morning pics around Westminster, especially the London Eye &  Palace of Westminster. Me and Nita headed out early whilst the kids were still sleeping (chance for them to catchup on some much needed sleep, lots of walking and early starts had them tired), just one station from Green Park and we were in Westminster just before 7 am– so LOVE the London tube system.
A cloudy day, so no morning sun rays Sad smile, nevertheless, a good day, and a chance for some pics.

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Back at the hotel, kids were still asleep, time to wake up all!! Quick breaky and we were out on the streets just before 11am. Neha & Pooja were not complaining today, they had a good sleepin! First stop – Selfridges on Oxford St, only a 14 minute walk from the hotel.

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At Oxford St, we split up, Pooja and I headed to Seoul Bakery (K-pop) to get a replacement key chain that she had lost yesterday, Nita and Neha browsed about on Oxford St, slowly making their way to Selfridges.
A visit to K-pop store is not complete with just one purchase, she had to get a few more goodies! All done, made her promise that was her last K-pop shopping in London! Am glad she agreed to it!

Walk to Selfridges seemed never ending Sad smile, finally we were there, caught up with Nita & Neha. Was so surprised by the size of this place, it was another Harrods! The food hall was a must with the yummy cakes/pastries, good stop for Pooja.
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The sweet treats was just a small piece of the food hall! There was a gourmet area for fresh meats, seafood & cheeses, a Caviar & Champagne Bar, Raman bar, and it continued. It was wow! Now to roam about the place, Pooja and I spent a lot of time at the Electronics department, just browsing through all the cool tech.

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(Pooja was very interested in this games chair!)

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(Ferrari history book, encased in an actual Ferrari alloy engine case – only 4,500 GBP)

Caught up with Vikash & family at Selfridges for lunch, turned out the food court (different to the food hall), was not as enticing as Harrods, both decided to head to Harrods and try their famous fish n chips! Off to Harrods in the famous London black Taxi’s. I had not realised how spacy these Taxi’s were!!

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The Harrods food hall was busy, for Fish n Chips, it was close to impossible to get the 8 seated together, decided to sit 4 & 4 as that was quicker, got seated in around 20 minutes. Time to order some Fish n Chips!

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We ordered the Fish n Chips and Neha’s favourite – Calamari with baby octopus. To round it off, I got the Harrod 1849 Lager! Food was excellent, Beer was good but not something I am longing for. Good lunch session, a bit more roaming about and then it was back to the hotel, to rest up and get ready for the Lion King show.

Around 6pm we all left the hotel for the Lion King show @ Lyceum Theatre, down to the tube to get off at Covent Garden.
Covent Garden itself is such a gem of a place, very different to other places, cobble stone streets, small shops markets style – it just had a different feel to it.

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Approaching Lyceum Theatre, we could see the big Lion King signage and the large crowds gathered at the entry. Got our prepaid tickets, herded the group of 12 through the gates to the Royal Circle. Wow, this was a nice theatre, good decor and large!! We had good seats, getting a centre view of the stage.

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Only issue with the place was it was warm!! This problem was present at a lot of places in London, with the weather being COLD outside, it was abnormally warm indoors at most places, rather than just slightly warm. It is a bit crazy, you get all rugged up to go outside and as soon as you go indoors you need to rip all your layers off!!! A first world problem Winking smile.

Show started on time @ 7:30, the play, cast, scenes props & sight n sound were amazing, however it felt a bit long, especially for the ones who did not follow Lion King too much. Still me, Neha and Pooja had a great time!

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Next we all headed to Dishoom Indian restaurant at Covent Gardens, a very famous Indian streetfood style chain of restaurants. Got there around 9.50pm, and the place was packed! Table for 12 was hard, however they were able to arrange one table of 8 and one of 4. It was almost 10pm, we were not arguing, Doc & Vikash went on the 8 table (downstairs), we were on the table of 4 upstairs!

The wait staff provided some recommendations, we decided to go with, the famous butter chicken, paneer tikka masala,  Dishoom’s famous black dhal, Okra fries and the standard naan and rice.
Dishes arrived very quickly which was great, everyone was starving! Taste wise, the okra fries were brilliant, as were the naan, the curries I was not so sure of and the super famous black dhal was a bit of a let down! Was I impressed by the food – not really, was expecting something amazing however it was not to be, maybe it was eating at Bombay Bustle that set my expectations too high ???

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Our dinner was done, Vik & Doc were still going, we decided to head back to the hotel, checked google maps and it was only a 15 minute walk, time to stroll back, good chance for kids to see London at night. Walked thru Leicester Square & Piccadilly Circus, it was good walk showing some a different view of London at night.

 

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It had been a good day, tomorrow was viewing of the change of guards and then off to Harry Potter Studio Tour.

 

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Day 4 – 17th Sept, London (Madame Tussauds & London Eye)

Today was a visit to the Madame Tussauds, me and Nita had visited this place in 1998! Our third visit to a Madame Tussauds and the kids second visit. We were booked for the 10am session.
Early start for the group, took the tube from Green Park to the Baker St station. Madame Tussauds is directly next to Baker St, infact the stations has signage indicating which way to go for Madame Tussauds.

We got there by 9:30am, hoping to get in early… only to be disappointed, the place did not open till 10am!! Well time to wait outside, atleast we were first in the queue.

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At just after 10, we were let in, it was good to be in first, we got a few minutes with the bollywood stars before the wave of other bollywood fans arrived. And then there were lots of pics…..

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Turns out Pooja was in most shots, she was super active with getting her pics taken whilst Neha was busy vlogging it all.
Madame Tussauds completed, next group meetup was at 3:30 pm at the London Eye, till then everyone was free to do whatever they liked.

First stop for us was the Seoul Bakey @ Russell St. Pooja is a big fan of K-pop, and had researched this place as selling k-pop memorabilia!!
Took the tube to Bond St, than switched to the Central line to get off at the Tottenham Court Road, a few minutes walk and we were at the Seoul Bakery. The place looked like just any small Korean cafe, asking the staff there about K-pop store, and they led us down to the lower level store which was essentially a locked room. They opened the room and left Pooja in there, she was free to go through it all and pick what she wanted! Was super impressed with their trust that fans will not steal!

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Pooja picked up some key rings, posters and ofcourse she had to get a BTS album. That done and all paid for, with a very happy Pooja, we headed to Oxford Circus via the Tube.IMG_2259

There the first stop was to get some lunch, we turned into Argyll St, which is a pedestrian walking only street and settled for Italian at Bella Italia.

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Food here was amazing and very filling, we ordered two pasta dishes and one Pizza, all very very good! By the time we finished lunch, there was not much time to look around Oxford St, time to head back down to the tube and get to our London Eye session at 3:30pm.

Vikash & Doc were already they with the family, we just made it and all boarded the same cabin.

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The London Eye does go high and provides some amazing views over London. Would I do it again, not really, I am not a great fan of such attractions so this was not to my taste. A full circle done in 30 minutes, we were down again, time to head back to the hotel.

Doc was dining out with his family in London tonight, me and Vikash decided to head out to Harrods for afternoon Tea after dropping kids off at Hotel. Told them to order Room Service!

The Hotel concierge suggested we take a Taxi rather than the underground, it was much faster and about the same cost as we were 4. Time to hop into a London Taxi!

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We arrived at Harrods in no time, if you are leaving in the Mayfair area, definitely take a Taxi to Harrods, much easier than all the walking involved with the Tube.

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Headed to the Harrods tea rooms on Level 4, the place is something!

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We ordered coffees, couple of cakes and scones for all. It was nice afternoon tea session. Seating there enjoying the atmosphere, we started planning the evening, Nita suggested an Indian restaurant that was recently visited by Sonam Kapoor, me and Vik were – lets do it! Made a reservation for 4 (no kids!!) for 8:30 pm @ Bombay Bustle, and a plus, it was located in Mayfair not too far from the hotel!

Back at the hotel, we sorted the kids dinner, room service, which they were very happy with, none of them wanted to go out!! Dian and Aaria were in our room, kids were all having lots of fun.

A quick 20 min walk got us to our destination, Bombay Bustle. It did not look much from the outside, however once we entered, the place was busy! It was themed like a train carriage, we could not see many spare tables.

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We informed the front desk of our booking, they took us downstairs!, and wow it was grand!!

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Downstairs we were give the lounge table, with nice sofas! Apparently this was the same table Sonam Kapoor and her party came to. 
Time to order some food, ordered a few varieties recommended by wait person, who was amazing.

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Food was amazing and delicious!!! As was the dessert khulfi!
Wow, what a way to end the night, Bombay Bustle restaurant is highly highly recommended.

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Day 3 – 16th Sept London

Early start today, the hop on off bus pass (purchased yesterday) was still valid till 10:30am (pass is valid for 24 hrs), we decided to use that to complete Kensington Palace – Diana’s home. Quick breaky and we were all out on the road just after 9am. Another cold day.

First on the red line Bus to the Marble Arch stop to switch lines to get to our destination.

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On the way to Marble Arch, got lucky with the change of guards parade.

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(passing the famous Harrods)

 

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Arrived at Kensington Palace stop, all off the bus, now a stroll through the parklands to reach the palace, opportunity for more pics.

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Kensington Palace done, not as impressive as other palaces, we were not soo impressed by it, or maybe we were expecting a lot more???
Now for a 25 minute walk to the Gloucester Road underground station, we were headed to little India in Alperton.

Along the way to station, passed some amazing streets…

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At the station took the Piccadilly line to our next stop Alperton. As the stop neared, more and more Indians boarded the train, yep we were headed to the right place! The Alperton station stop had the same feel, a lot of Indians.
On to Ealing Road to find the little india town, unfortunately none of us knew exactly where this was, had to ask a store attendant for directions on which way we should head, north or south!

Made our way North as advised, and soon came past the Shri Vallabh Nidhi Mandir. Wow a nicely architected mandir, similar to what can be seen in India!

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We went inside for darshan, and the same detailed sculptures were on the inside, very nicely decorated.

Headed further north on Ealing Rd, finally coming to a row of stores on both sides, lots of Indians around the place and lots of food outlets, groceries stores, etc.
Ladies headed to an Indian Grocery store, to pickup Tandoori Mix, apparently London mix was very nice!!
Coincidently, the store that they went to was called “Nita Cash n Carry” !!

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Whilst waiting with the kids, we checked out the Mumbai Local food outlet next door, menu looked great! We decided to make that our lunch spot. Store was not open till 12 midday, no problems, only 30 more minutes to kill off, lets roam about in the town. Ladies had finished their buying, a bit of roaming around and just after 12 midday, we were back at Mumbai local, time for some desi food.

“Mumbai Local” had a great range of street food along with curries. Food ordered included, Pani Puri, Mumbai Bhel Puri, Indo-Chinese noodles, Paneer Makhani, Dosa and many more, topped with Mumbai masala tea – just yum!

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A brilliant vegetarian lunch it was, would highly recommend the Mumbai Local restaurant for veg street food variety. A must have is the Mumbai Masala Chai.

Next to roam about more in the streets, mum had told Nita about Popat store, and to buy some sort of kitchen pan from there, that was the next stop for all!

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More shopping by all, next to head out to the Wembley stadium. Even though we could not get in, it would be good view the massive structure. Worked out our route to get there by Bus. Caught the iconic London double decker red bus towards the stadium. Along the way, we passed another bigger Little India town, Will leave that for our next trip!

Arrived at Wembley stadium, a massive stadium it was. Took us a fair bit of walking just to get to the entrance of the stadium, which in itself was so high.

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Stadium done, now to the London Designer Outlet mall, directly next to the stadium. We gave ourselves till 4pm to get any shopping done and then to head back to the hotel.DSC06200

A small bit of shopping for the ladies but nothing too crazy, prices when factored with the weaker Aussie dollar were not that great, in most cases it was more $$$ than locally purchased back home.

Just after 4pm, we all headed back to the hotel, via the tube. Arrived at our hotel just after 6pm, giving all enough time to take a break, refresh and then head out to dinner at Hakkassan, booked for 8:30pm. With our large group size, we could only get 3 separate tables of 4, booking a large table of 12 required us to pick one of the banquet menus, which was not to our liking – this is something they should improve on!

The Hakkassan restaurant in Mayfair was amazing, good food, but could not beat the Mumbai Hakkassan. Girls did enjoy the food here, highly recommended.

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It had been another big day, tomorrow was Madame Tussards and the London Eye.

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Day 2–15th Sept, London

First morning in London, all fresh from a nice long sleep. By the time we got down to breakfast, Bhavik’s & Vikash’s family had already finished breaky. Today’s plan was to get onto to the Hop on Hop off bus and explore the London sights.

Kids were super excited holidaying with their friends, that is always much more fun than simply hanging out with parents Sad smile.
Around 10am, we left the hotel in our big group of 12! Stepping outside, the cold London weather welcomed us!
Could not complain about our hotel location (Holiday Inn Mayfair), the Hop On Hop Off bus was just around the corner on Piccadilly Rd. All on the bus by 10:30, as this was the start of the bus line, we got very good seats on the top deck. Whilst the view from above was amazing, one negative was the wind chill factor Freezing. Still it was all worth it and some nice snaps we got.

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Interesting sight at the Marble Arch stop, a bus stop’s roof covered with a lot of head phones from these Hop on Hop off buses….!
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First stop was the Trafalgar Square, in 1998, me and Nita were feeding pigeons there, unfortunately the feeding of the birds has been banned Sad smile, still an amazing square.

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Back on the Bus from Trafalgar square, this time around we were not so lucky with seating, upper deck was very full, got seats in the lower area, should not complain as we did have seats.

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Next stop was London Tower Bridge. Lots of pics being taken… again!!
However first was a quick fish n chips stopover, it was already 1pm and we all needed some refuelling! When in London you have to try their fish n chips.

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Enough viewing of the Tower Bridge from a distance, time to walk it.

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Got lucky in viewing the bridge opening whilst we were on it.

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Next stop was the Boroughs Market, only a 15 minute walk from the bridge, herding the group along that way.

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Arrived at Boroughs market – was this place busy!!! The market had numerous stalls, selling food, drinks, coffees, chocolates, pastries, fruit & veges, meat, bakeries and everything else!

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The three families split up to grab lunch, was two busy to get seating for 4 let alone for 12! We opted for Thai, Doc’s family went Gujarati Indian and Vik n family settled for Steak sandwiches. All agreed this was one of best street food we have had in a while. Food was eaten by all whilst standing, kids were sitting on the ground, too tired to stand.
Food in, then some roaming about which led us to try some amazing organic coffee! Next were the lines of dessert to try and buy!! All done, now to walk to the nearest Ferry stop (Bankside) – our Hop on Hop off ticket included a single Ferry journey. Navigation sorted in google maps, next to herd the group in the right direction. Passing some good sights along the way.

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Got to the ferry terminal, only to be told, the Hop On Hop Off ferry did not operate from that stop during the Winter/autumn seasons!! No energy to walk to the other station, decided to simply purchase the single ferry for all to Westminster station that operated from this stop. Ferry ride was good, gave a different view of London from the Thames. Getting off at Westminster stop, we had a great view to the London Eye, and Big Ben, unfortunately Big Ben was under maintenance and was covered with Scaffolding, kids were not too happy about that Sad smile.

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Time to jump back on the Hop on Hop off Bus, next stop was Buckingham palace, more touristy pics.

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Was close to 5pm when Buckingham Palace was completed, decided to walk around the place, and ended up at the Royal Souvenir store. Got a couple of souvenirs including a Tea Cup fit for my Queen!
It was then a leisurely walk to the Hotel from Piccadilly circus, the evening’s plan was dinner at Dim-T, a dumpling restaurant overlooking the London Tower Bridge. Along the way, we stopped over at a Coffee Shop for afternoon desserts. Whilst the coffees were average, the desserts were great!

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Whilst there, a chance to take a selfie with the red Telephone box!

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Arriving at the hotel, Doc, myself and Vik went to our nearest underground station – Green Park (opp our Hotel!), to purchase Oyster cards for all, we needed that tonight to travel to Dim-T via the underground subway system.
A travel inspector kindly assisted us in getting the cards sorted, which included Kids cards being issued with a 50% discount – so far we were very impressed with the English hospitality, people were very willing to help.

Back at the Hotel, quick freshen up, and then to herd the group through the underground system. Kids were fascinated by the deep underground stations and the very long escalators! It was also a LOT of walking!!

 

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Arrived at Dim-T without issues, we were all sooo glad to get indoors, outside was COLD!!! Whilst the Dim sums were very nice, mains were average. The best feature of this place were the amazing views to the Tower Bridge.

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Post dinner a good opportunity to take some pics against a great backdrop.

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Successfully made our way back to the hotel via the Underground, kids settled into bed, now for the adults to go out – apparently Leicester Square was very active at night.

The 6 of us took the underground (tube) again, time now was around 11:30pm. Love the tube system, so efficient to get from place to place, however be prepared to walk!

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Getting out into Leicester Square, this place was indeed very busy, lots of cafes, clubs and a LOT of people!!

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Bars and Clubs trying to entice people in, we settled on a club and entered, surprise surprise, the first song we hear is a Punjabi mix!!! This place was awesome, stayed around for a couple of drinks and a few more tunes, it was not entirely Punjabi music, that was a one off, but it was great to have the diversity!

Around 12:30, we decided to walk back to the hotel rather than take the tube, it was a 20 minute walk. Along the way, some dessert and a quick stop at Piccadilly circus. All places still very busy!

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A great first day, time to get some much needed sleep, tomorrow was off to the Wembley area to see Little India and visit the Wembley stadium.

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Day 1 – 13th,14th September – Flight to London

Woohoo, it is holiday time again, this time to London, Paris and then a Cruise. This was a group holiday, myself, Bhavik’s, Vikash’s and Balia’s (from the 24/09/18) families were doing this together.

Had been a crazy week leading to this date, with Neha and Pooja both still at schools and exams till the last day of travel, not much time to get too excited with the holidays and also packing was left to the last minute literally, I got back from work on Thursday afternoon and then it was a mad rush to finalise packing and what things to take.

Dinner was at mums places, she had prepared Pooja’s favourite – gosht! Mum was adamant we have the last home cooked meal at her place. As always her food is super, kids loved it!Just after 7:50pm, Dilesh took us to the airport.
Vikash was already there when we arrived. This was really happening.

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Checkin process was super slow, another 40+mins to waste and then finally down the immigration hall.

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Pooja took the same pose she did late last year during our Dubai/India holiday, I had to join in,

Bhavik & family also caught up with us in the departures areas, from there kids were all together having a blast – finally getting super excited for these holidays.

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(Ladies busy browsing the duty free area).

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Time to board the flights, Bhavik was travelling on THAI airways, whilst me and Vikash were on Malaysian airlines. Next meetup with Bhavik will be tomorrow in London.

Our first leg of the flight was to KL, flight time of around 8.5 hours. We arrived in KL around 5:50am, a 4 hour transit and then the long 13.5 hour leg to London. Flight went smoothly but I had major problems falling asleep in the KL to London leg.

It was a long and tiring flight, finally made it to London at 16:40pm on the 14th of Sept. In 1998 when I had last visited London, I had very bad memories of the extremely slow processing of the immigration counters and the long lines. Well this time around, London ensured they maintained the same level of experience! The lines were super long, took us over one hour to be processed through immigration!

Next to collect our bags and quickly out through customs. Our hotel transfers was waiting for us in the arrivals hall. It was peak hour, took us just over an hour to reach our hotel – the Holiday Inn at Mayfair. Hotel was very good, all settled in our room, now to get some dinner (Bhavik’s flight was landing close to 7pm, so no need to wait for him).

Hotel staff recommended a nice Italian place close by, it was the Boccochino,  Stepping outside, it was much cooler than Brisbane, time to put on some additional layers of clothing.

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Boccochino, whilst very classy with the best ambience, did lack in the quality of food we were used to. Still enough to get us started. We all hit the bed early to catchup on some much needed sleep, tomorrow was the start of our touring!

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