by Geri Wagner

Day One
Leicester Square
Bus Tour
River Cruise
Walking Tour

OK, this is Orientation Day. You're going to check out some of the main places that one hears about when someone mentions London. Wherever you're staying, take the tube (buy yourself a weeklong pass at the tube station) and take the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square.

At Leicester Square, follow the crowds up to the street past buskers who will entertain you along the way. Buskers are the musicians/actors you'll see and hear serenading you with all forms of instruments, including voice. Although it looks pretty laid back, busking is well organized in London. A busker has a certain area and that area is not to be infringed upon by another busker. It's all pretty interesting and neat. Toss a few pence into their instrument cases and head out onto the square.

Look around at the various statues of Charlie Chaplin and others, and go around the corner to the huge Swiss cuckoo clock that plays music and has movement like the cuckoo clock back home on your wall. You can also check out the Half price ticket booth to see what's on at London theatres. Maybe you can pick up tickets for a show tonight.

It's always good to expose the kids to theatre and you're sure to find something that they'll enjoy. We took our kids to "Peter Pan" and it was a real thrill for all of us. In London, the audience isn't bashful - they'll hiss at the villains like Captain Hook. At intermissions, you can buy ice creams right in the aisles and just have a good time!

While at Leicester Square, you can find all kinds of "take away" foods to eat as you stroll around. Too bad, my favourite espresso bar is no longer there. I enjoyed sipping a cappuccino at the big plateglass window and simply watching the goings-on in Leicester Square from my vantage point.

Now get back on the tube, Piccadilly Line and go one stop over to Piccadilly Circus. One of the first things folks recommended that we do when we arrived in London was to simply take a double-decker bus tour around to the various main attractions. Your tour guide will give you information about the city that you might not otherwise know and you'll have a quick orientation to this "city of a hundred small cities" for future reference.

Expect to see things like Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace - you know, the typical haunts. With a Big Bus Company Tour Ticket you get a Live Commentary. With this company, your ticket is valid for 24 hours and you get a free river cruise and walking tours. Adult Ticket £14.00 ($21 USD). Book online and save £1 (normal price £15) Child Ticket £6.00 ($9 USD).

They have a really cool site, too. It's fun just to go there even if you don't buy any tickets! You'll be able to cruise the Thames and also get a free walking tour such as a Rock 'N Roll Tour. See where the Rolling Stones rehearsed and where the Beatles performed live for the very last time. From Piccadilly Circus, daily 1:30 and 4 p.m.

If you're not totally blown out by all the day's activities, you might take the kids up into British Airways London Eye located at Jubilee Gardens South Bank, London, SE1.

At 445 feet high, this is the world's highest observation Wheel (Ferris wheel). It provides a 30-minute, slow-moving 'flight' over London. Designed to reflect the elements - air, water, earth and time - the central theme is a circle of white light from within the rim which sweeps the skyline at 445 feet. The passenger capsule signifying 'time', is lit internally at the point of embarkation.

Take the Jubilee Line (grey on your map) south toward Waterloo station. The Jubilee Line meets up with Piccadilly Line at Green Park. Get a good night's rest! Hope the ghosts don't keep you up!

See also
Orientation to London with Kids here
Day Two itinerary here
Day Three Itinerary here
Day Four Itinerary here
Day Five Itinerary here

article by Geri Wagner
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