by Geri Wagner

Day Two Itinerary
Victoria and Albert Museum
Hyde Park

Victoria and Albert "Polytechnicon", er- Museum
Cromwell Road London SW7 2RL

OK, let's get it over with early in the day when everyone is fresh and on their best behaviour - unless, of course, Sally has crushed a Weetabix in Michael's hair during breakfast.

On to one of the few - shhhhh - museums - we'll sneak into this itinerary.

The Victoria and Albert holds one of the world's largest and most diverse collections of the decorative arts. The 146 galleries contain unrivalled collections dating from 3000 BC to the present day. Furniture, fashion, textiles, paintings, silver, glass, ceramics, sculpture, jewellery, books, prints and photographs illustrate the artistic life of many different cultures from around the world.

The museum's magnificent Victorian and Edwardian buildings also contain the National Art Library and some of Britain's best national collections including sculpture, glass, and watercolours. Open all year.

Here's the good news - it won't cost anything for the kids to get in, so you won't have wasted money on them if they refuse to look at anything! But I guarantee they'll find something to look at for at least an hour. Be satisfied with about that amount of time in a museum. With 146 galleries, you need to be somewhat discriminating yourself.

If your kids are old enough, let them explore a bit on their own and plan a meeting place and time. If they have to stay with adults, find some exhibits that will interest them as well. Remind them that afterwards, you are going to the Park, shopping, and to get their fortunes read! In other words, bribe them!

Hyde Park
OK, you got that over with. Victoria and Albert Museum is a stone's throw from Hyde Park, Harrods and the shopping mecca of London. This Royal Park covers a large area to the south of the Bayswater area, 341 acres in total and is a popular recreational and resting haven for tourists and Londoners alike. Hyde Park originated as the hunting grounds of Henry V111 who swiped the land from the monks at Westminster.

In the summers you are able to go boating on the Serpentine, a large lake at the centre of Park, or simply lounge on the grass near the lake and people watch, or play catch. On Sundays, the Park is crowded at Speakers Corner, a tradition in Hyde Park since 1855, for the famous 'tub-thumping' where public orators on rostrums and soapboxes air their views to a group of listeners.

Heckling is a favourite sport, but as most of the speakers aren't really very interesting and the others are rather rude you probably won't bother to heckle for long. (However, this makes it one of the liveliest and funniest places to visit in London).

Harrod's Department Store
Knightsbridge, London SW1

Harrod's is certainly the largest department store in the world. Take plenty of time to check out various departments. In fact, your group might want to split up and shop around for say, an hour before gathering together in Harrod's world-famous Food Hall downstairs, to browse and sample the infinite and various dishes available there. But don't get too full, because there's afternoon tea yet, starting at 3:45 p.m!


VAT, just like American sales tax, is charged on almost everything, but please remember that refunds only apply to goods being taken out of the country, not services. American visitors to Britain can reclaim the 20% VAT, minus the administrative fee, on purchases over a minimum limit (check with the store for their limit--usually £50-£100). Look for the "Tax Free Shopping" sign in the windows of participating stores. style="padding:15px"All you have to do is fill out the form, which the sales assistant will give you, keep the goods in your hand luggage and show both goods and forms to the VAT desk at the airport on your departure. A customs officer will check the goods and validate the refund voucher. style="padding:15px"You can receive your refund on the spot at some airports, otherwise you should mail the validated form back to the store in the envelope provided, and a refund check will be sent to you by mail. You can also have the refund credited to your credit card account. Please be patient, refunds can take up to three months to be processed. Any queries should be taken up with the store where you purchased the goods. Don't forget that VAT refunds cannot be processed after you arrive back home in the USA.

Afternoon Tea at Harrod's
Mon-Sat 3:45-5:15pm. Tea is taken in the 4th floor Georgian Restaurant, the largest in-store restaurant in the world. Live music.

After tea, head south for a stroll through Belgravia; few tourists venture here but it's London at its most Upstairs, Downstairs.

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

article by Geri Wagner
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