A Tale of Two Trips to One City


My parents recently returned to the US from a week-and-a-half-long vacation to London, where they enjoyed the food (and tea) and toured the sites. Ten years ago, in summer 2004, I too traveled to London. Although that trip happened in what is many ways a bygone era, England nonetheless has its place in my life as one of eight countries I’ve been to, and with several museums and historic sites I have visited.

While my parents were gone, I lived vicariously through them and texted them every day asking for updates on their adventures. I was struck by how few sites overlapped on my trip and theirs.

Like me, my parents toured St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, and they saw Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column. On both our trips, we went to Borough Market for food and sightseeing as well.

But while I visited the National Gallery, my parents went to the National Portrait Gallery. I rode the London Eye; my parents saw the city by taking a bus tour. I made a pilgrimage to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden to see a bench during a day trip to Oxford, whereas my parents made a pilgrimage to Abbey Road to see a crosswalk.

Tower Bridge. Photo by Carol DiSciullo

Tower Bridge. Photo by Carol DiSciullo

I visited the museum at Tower Bridge. My parents visited the museum at the Tower of London (though they did take pictures of Tower Bridge). My visit included the encyclopedic British Museum, while my mother and father visited the locally-focused Museum of London. I took a tour of the Houses of Parliament and learned about the British legislature, and my parents went to the Churchill War Rooms and learned about the (former) British executive.

I briefly took a picture of Buckingham Palace, while my parents stayed long enough to watch the Changing of the Guard.

Additionally, my travels included the Globe Theater, and a ride called This Is Oxford.

My parents also saw the Imperial War Museum, the Docklands, the Tate Modern, Kensington Palace, and Kensington Gardens.

Ultimately, London (and nearby cities for day excursions) is a city with far too much to do to fit into one or two weeks, and there is plenty to fill at least two trips.

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About Laura

Paralegal with Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education, frequent museum visitor, based in Washington, DC. I care about what museums can do, both in terms of public offerings and internal practices, to make the world a better place. I blog about museum education ("informed"), the social work of museums ("humane"), and visitor experience ("citizenry").
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