Kew Gardens

Curved EleganceIf you’re staying in London and you’d like a little nature getaway, you might want to consider Kew Gardens.  This UNESCO World Heritage site is just a Tube ride away.  In a few minutes you can be in a variety of regions.  Visit the woodlands, or find peace in the Japanese gardens.  The gardens expand over quite a bit of land so be prepared to do some walking.  If you are worried about overdoing it, take advantage of the tram.

Most likely you’ll be in the area long enough for lunch.  The gardens have cafes, but you can also explore the small town for a special treat.  We ate outside at a lovely cafe after working up an appetite.

Admission-Adults £16.00*, Concessions £14.00*, Children FREE

Find out more at the Kew Gardens website.

Paris and London 2011 Itinerary

borough market2I learned a lot about travel from this trip.  I was way too ambitious with planning and ended up wearing myself down.  My perspective has shifted from thinking I have to visit everything because I may not be able to return, to seeing what I can and whatever I miss, I’ll visit the next time I come.  It is a great idea to think we can visit all the major sites we want to, but it is not always realistic.

I have found that a balance between learning, play, and relaxation is key.  The biggest mistake I made on this trip was with museum overload.  I have placed stars next to some of my favorite spots.  Warning: view this itinerary as a learning experience.

Day 1 (First Full Day)

  • Champs Elysees
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Notre Dame*
  • Louvre
  • Au Lapin Agile (cabaret)

Day 2Tuilleries

  • Place de Concorde
  • Tuilleries*
  • L’Orangerie*
  • Musee D’Orsay

Day 3

  • Versailles
  • Rodin Musee*
  • Notre Dame Tower (Gargoyles)*

Day 4

  • Marce Aux Puce
  • Montrmartre (fabric shopping)*
  • Giverny (Monet’s Home)*

Day 5

  • Pere Lachaise Cemetary
  • Petite Palais
  • Batobus (Seine River)
  • Arsenal
  • Fete de la Musique*

globe2Day 6

  • Luxembourg Gardens*
  • Deportation Memorial (Behind Notre Dame)
  • Eurostar to London
  • Harrods

Day 7

  • Tour (Stonehenge, Bath*, and Stratford)

Day 8

  • Borough Market*
  • Globe Theatre
  • Tate Modern
  • Millennium Bridge
  • London Eye
  • Westminster Abbey
  • St. James Park*windosr3

Day 9

  • Churchill War Cabinet Rooms*
  • Buckingham Palace (Changing of the Guard)
  • Hyde Park (speaker’s corner)
  • British Museum

Day 10

  • Kew Gardens*
  • Picadilly Circus
  • Trafalgar Square

Day 11

  • Windsor*
  • Windsor Castle

Day 12

  • Tower of London
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • St. Pancras Platform 9 ¾


Paris and London Advice

Millenium BridgeBack in 2011 I went to Paris and London with one of my good friends.  It was her first time abroad, so I sent her some advice based on what I had learned.  It is kind of funny to look back at now, but there are still some good ideas.  Check out this brief overview of our trip.  More information is to come later!

Before the Trip


  • Call your credit card company to notify them that you will be traveling


  • Bring at least one warmer top in case it is chilly at night.
  • Bring at least one nice outfit.
  • Bring at least two different pairs of shoes.  If you get blisters then a change of shoes will not rub in the same spot.
  • I have a European straightener that I can share. (If you plan on going abroad often, this is really nice to have).
  • Paris was pretty warm during the day, dress as you would here (Chicago) in the summer.
  • Be sure to meet all of the TSA Regulations
    • 3-1-1
    • 3 oz bottles are the largest for liquids (no aerosols)
    • 1 quart bag (everything should be placed in this clear bag)
    • 1 1 quart bag per passenger in a carry on
    • Try to fit as much as you can in your carry on in case your luggage does not make it on time.
    • Make a packing list early on and then refer to it while packing.
    • If you tend to struggle sleeping on a plane, bring some Dramamine.
    • A wrap around pillow is very useful for sleeping, especially if you don’t want to lie on your neighbor’s shoulder.harrods1

During the Trip

Preventing Jet Lag

  • Drink plenty of fluids on the plane (preferably no alcohol or caffeine, but I don’t follow that rule).
  • Try to sleep on the plane as much as you can.
  • When we arrive stay awake until night time.
  • Go outside as much as possible and walk around.

Paris Recommendations

  • Places to Visit
    • Notre Dame
    • Jardin du Luxembourg
    • Rodin Musee
    • Jardin des Tuileries
    • Montmarte
      • Sacre Coeur
      • Au Lapin Agile
      • Fabric Stores
      • Place du Tertre (Where many artists like Picasso used to hang out)
      • The Two Windmills (Where Amelie worked)
  • Pigalle (sex district, also where Moulin Rouge is located)
  • Louvre
    • Venus de Milo
    • Mona Lisa
    • Winged Victory
    • Cupid Awakening Psyche
  • Versailles
  • Giverny
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Catacombs
  • Pere Lachaise Cemetary
  • Shakespeare and Company
  • Tracadero
  • Batobus down the Seine
  • Musee D’Orsay
  • Latin Quarter
  • Saint Germain Des Pres
  • The Marais
  • Montorgrueil
  • Booksellers on Quai des Grands Augustins
  • Marche au Puce (Huge market)
  • Pickpocketing is big in Paris, watch your surroundings and don’t let anyone bump into you.
  • The metro is the easiest way to get around.  We usually purchase a carnet (10 tickets) and purchase more whenever we need to.  This is how we get around the city.
  • When you walk into a store, say bon jour.  In Paris, walking into a store is like walking into someone’s home.  It is polite to say hello and goodbye.
  • Foods to Eat- Escargot and Steak Tartare (and pretty much everything).

westminister1London Sights

  • Big Ben
  • London Eye
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Platform 9 ¾ (not worth it after visiting)
  • National Gallery
  • Globe Theatre
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Hyde Park
  • Stone Henge
  • Bath
  • Portobello Market
  • Borough Market
  • London Walk (Pub Walk?)
  • Oxford

After the Trip

  • Try to keep a journal during the trip, but if you were not able to keep up, write down thoughts now to prevent loss.
  • Keep an eye on your credit card just to be sure everything is going smoothly