Day 1 - Friday, September 21:
Departure from Toronto at 9am to London, England with Air Canada. We have chosen the day flight to reduce jetlag. Arrival at London Heathrow at 9pm and immediate transfer to our hotel, the Queens Park
in the Bayswater area. Welcome pint in a local pub before turning in for the evening.
Day 2 - Saturday, September 22:
Breakfast at the hotel before meeting our Blue Badge Guide for a panoramic bus and walking tour of the city. Sights to include; the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, the London Eye, British Museum, Big Ben etc. The tour will end in the area of Trafalgar Square. Free time for lunch followed by a visit to the National Gallery, housing one of the greatest collection of paintings in the world. Following the visit, we continue to the Embankment where we will find a collection of pubs calling us in for a drink before heading back to the hotel. Traditional English group dinner tonight in a local pub. Today you will also receive your seven day London Travel Pass which is good for zones 1 & 2 on the London Underground & Buses.
Day 3 - Sunday, September 23:
Sunday is the perfect day for getting everyone orientated with the city of London. Almost all the shops, museums and attractions are open, but the city is more accessible due to the reduced volume of traffic and most of the offices being closed. This morning we will start with a leisurely walk down the Mall to Buckingham Palace for a two-and-a-half-hour guided tour of the State rooms. The Palace has over 700 rooms and we will visit 19 of them including; the Grand Hall, Throne room, State dining room, Blue drawing room and the Music room where there is a special display in tribute to Diana-Princess of Wales. Following our visit we walk to Piccadilly Circus before taking lunch at one of the many restaurants in the area. For those wishing to accompany us we will be continuing our walk after lunch to Oxford Street, Soho, Carnaby Street, the West End theatre district and Covent Garden with perhaps one or two stops on-route for a glass of good English ale or non-English wine. The remainder of the afternoon is free for exploring before we meet again for a group dinner in London’s oldest chop house.
Alternate activity: Premiership league football match (schedule to be advised).
Day 4 - Monday, September 24:
Following breakfast, we make the short train journey from Paddington Station to Windsor Castle, one of three official residences of the Queen which has been home to the Sovereign for over 900 years. We take a self-guided tour complete with audio guide of the castle to include the State rooms, St George’s Chapel and the grounds. Changing of the guard happens between 11am and 11:30am, so make sure you get a good viewing position early as this event draws large crowds. Following the visit there are many cafes and restaurants in the town surrounding the castle which are suitable for lunch or you can take the train back into the city as the afternoon is yours at leisure. Join your tour guide in the late afternoon for a visit to the Sky Garden followed by Leadenhall Market, a covered market under an elegant Victorian roof housing stalls, pubs, restaurants and shops. Dinner on your own followed by a “Jack the Ripper” walking tour commencing in the White Chapel area.
Alternate tour: afternoon Brewery tour and pub crawl ending in Leadenhall Market where you meet the others.
Day 5 - Tuesday, September 25:
This morning we travel by tube to the Tower of London, built by William the Conqueror in 1066 it has been used as a prison, Royal residence and a prisoner of war camp during WW2. On entering the complex, make your way to the Crown Jewels as this gets very busy later in the morning. Do not miss the Yeoman of the Guard (Beefeaters) free tour every 30 minutes, this tour is approximately 60 minutes long and very informative, entertaining and humorous. Following the visit, we take a leisurely walk across Tower Bridge to the South bank of the Thames towards Borough Market passing HMS Belfast War Museum, the Hays Galleria and numerous pubs, restaurants, stalls and shops. Borough is the hub of London’s World class food scene and an excellent place to sample gourmet food from Britain and across the world in over 100 shops, stalls and restaurants. The afternoon is free for you to explore the surrounding area which includes the Tate Modern (free entry), the Shard where you can take a ride way up to floor 72 for amazing views of the city, The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the London Aquarium. The Imperial Way Museum (free entry) is only a 20-minute walk or a short taxi ride away and is also well worth a visit.
Day 6 - Wednesday, September 26:
Full day excursion to Highclere Castle, more popularly known as Downton Abbey. Today’s tour includes visits to the filming sites associated with Downton Abbey, including: Yew Tree Farm, Downton Village and Downton Church as well as Highclere Castle, the Grantham family home in the series.
Alternate activity: a possible Premiership football match or horseraces. (subject to schedule).
Day 7 - Thursday, September 27:
Today is a free day for everyone to do as you wish. Museum visits in London are a must see for most visitors and most are free to enter. Obviously its impossible to see them all but the top ten are: British Museum, British Library, National Gallery, Natural History Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Modern, Science Museum, Tate Britain, V & A and the Imperial War Museum. Others well worth visiting are The Bank of England Museum & the National Maritime Museum. All listed above are free to enter but a visit to the Churchill War Rooms is highly recommended though this has an entry fee of around 20 pounds. Other attractions include the London Eye, a climb up to the Big Ben belfry, walk through Hyde Park, tour of Kensington Palace etc. Your tour guides will have a comprehensive list of all attractions. Patsy has also volunteered to escort a group to the Coppa Club where you can enjoy a cup of tea or cappuccino in one of the iconic pods offering spectacular of Tower Bridge & the Thames.
Day 8 - Friday, September 28:
This morning we make our way into the city where we take a two hour fully narrated boat cruise on the Thames. Bar and snacks on board and a choice of upper deck or inside seating with large windows. Following the cruise, we make our way to the East End of London where we meet our gastronomic guide for a mouth-watering three hour foodie tour of the area. We learn about the history of the East End and sample some of the food available in this cosmopolitan diverse culinary area from award winning restaurants to local food stalls.
Alternate activity: performance car drive at Silverstone Raceway. You’ll choose between a Ferrari, Aston Martin or our single-seater racing car, then suit up and head out onto one of Silverstone’s world-famous tracks. With a Silverstone Superchoice Voucher, tackling the home of F1 is a dream come true! *surcharge applies.
Day 9 - Saturday, September 29:
Today is your last day in London so we have left it free for last minute sightseeing or souvenir shopping. Saturday is the only day of the week overseas tourists can take a tour of the Houses of Parliament, so anyone interested in this could you please contact Pauwels Travel ASAP, so we can arrange tickets as they sell out quickly.
Farewell dinner this evening.
Alternate activity: Premiership League football match. (schedule to be advised), or Patsy will escort any interested participants to Notting Hill for a stroll around the market on Portobello Road. (Saturday is when all the antique stalls are in the market, with over 1,000 dealers selling goods from BC to the 1960’s. Extremely busy with dealers, collectors and the general public all hoping they will find that unsigned Da Vinci, a rare book or precious stone among the stalls.
Day 10 - Sunday, September 30:
Breakfast at the hotel followed by transfer to London, Heathrow airport for the return flight to Toronto.