Our first full day in London started out slow as we were all jet lagged and in desperate need of sleep. After only a couple of hours of sleep, which really would be classified as a nap, I roused everyone up and out the door as quickly as possible.
We were to meet our friends at Trafalgar Square for the St Patrick's Day celebration and we had already missed the infamous parade. I was greatly disappointed about this, but my children come first and I couldn't very well be running about the streets of London by myself and leave my family behind (although I did want to do this plenty whilst here).
We left the apartment and walked back to our nearest metro station to catch the tube to Trafalgar Square and it was raining. Not misting or only slightly raining . . . but big, fat raindrops. Trusted friend, my Canon, went back into my bag as it is not waterproof.
We departed the train at the station nearest the square and up and out we came to the sights and sounds of Londoners celebrating and drinking beer in the streets. Green necklaces and hats and glasses and shamrocks were plentiful and the streets were crowded despite the falling rain. I dont' think rain effects people in London quite like it does to the people in Chicago.
Our first glimpse of Trafalgar Square was hardly an eyesight as you could barely move for the throngs of people. My kids were on high alert to get out of there fast. In my excitement I took two photos and forgot to check my settings and naturally, they sucked.
The Square was full of people celebrating and having a great time. My kids wanted no part of any of it, sadly. They were still very tired and grouchy and hungry. We spotted our friends quite quickly and they graciously led us to a less populated street and area close to the square. We found a restaurant and everyone had a nice late lunch / early dinner, although the waiter was entirely too slow for our American style. We caught up and chatted away and were all hoping the rain was ceasing her pesty invasion on this day.
Our friends took us through the streets of Piccadilly, showing us the sights of London.
We stopped in the M&M World Store in London and while it was great fun for the children to see the large M&M characters dancing about, the store itself was not that impressive. I think perhaps because we are American and M&Ms are quite literally ... everywhere already AND we already M&M NYC. Everyone else was flocking to this store like wild geese though. If you wanted any color of M&M, you would find it here as well as rather expensive merchandise.
We stopped in Ripley's Believe It or Not and the children were able to see a wee bit of a performance. Myself, I had to turn away when the young man was hammering a nail up his nostril. A bit too much for me.
We stopped at what could be, in my opinion, the happiest toy store in the world, Hamley's. If you have never been, you simply must stop in for a visit and play with some toys. I almost could not get my little one out of there! Hamley's had the largest selection of Schleich animals that we have ever seen. My girls are nuts over animals and horses and dragons. Hampley's had an entire wall dedicated to Schleich. Little girl was hard pressed to only have to select two animals and it took a bit of convincing that she didn't need any more than those two.
We walked about the streets of London with our friends for a couple of more hours with them as our guide. It was raining the entire time with no let up in sight. We were trying to tire the children out as much as possible AND visit with friends, who had traveled in from Cirencester. When the children could take no more, we took the tube back to our apartment with our friends and had a bit more of a chat.
They brought the children a plethora of chocolates, which they were ever so thankful to gobble up. My husband was gifted with some local beers, which he was more than happy to drink and my dear friend brought me some mementos from her local city.
It was a lovely time visiting with our friends who we so rarely get to see and a great day, albeit the rain.