To start, Sandy is an incredible tour guide- my son and I had an unbelievable day! That being said, we shall start from the beginning! Before we even met Sandy, my son and I had a strange day to plan. We had 12 hours in London sandwiched in between a flight in from Norway and leaving on a train to Scotland at midnight. We had flights and luggage to manage. Sandy helped us with our luggage, a personal driver to get us from the airport to Hampton Court, and found storage for us to continue our day once in London. It was a lot of moving pieces that went off without a hitch!
As stated above, Sandy arrived for a driver to pick us up at the airport. It wasn't much more money than a taxi, but it ensured we got to Hampton Court quickly so we could utilize our time most effectively. Sandy was there to greet us and pack our luggage away safely. Then, off to Hampton Court!
Hampton Court is magnificent- the buildings, the grounds, it really is like stepping into the past. It is a place I have always wanted to visit, and it completely exceeded every expectation! You will literally see the most famous paintings from history books of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and other royals, the real tennis court (where we were lucky enough to witness one of the best in the world playing during our visit), the majestic gardens, the Great Hall with it's magnificent wood beam roof, the kitchen fireplaces large enough for 10 full sized men to stand in, and the largest grapevine in the world! We also stopped for lunch there, which was such a treat, as we were able to choose from dishes that were historically based and keeping in tradition with the food served back in Henry VIII's time. Sandy's knowledge is endless. She can easily talk about anything and bring it around to everything she is showing you. My son is 16, and was along with Mom so I could see one of my dream destinations, but Sandy kept him completely interested and engaged!
After Hampton Court, Sandy took us to a local train station that would deliver us right into London. It was a very easy ride, and we got a little rest with scenery before we took on the London portion of our day. We connected through to the station from which we were to leave that evening, and stored our bags in storage lockers so we didn't have to lug them around London.
In addition to Buckingham and St. James Palace- the Golden Standard of London viewing, Sandy took us to such unique places that were in the middle of everything but easily missed if one did not know what they were...Sandy showed us the details of certain buildings and what they meant historically, such as the merchants who held Royal Warrants- crests over the stores that marks service to three of the royal family members. We were able to visit such stores as Berry Bros and Rudd- the oldest wine store in Britain dating back to the 1600s. With it's tilted floor and man-size scales, and huge dusted ledgers, it was like stepping into a vintage postcard. We also visited the famous Kingsman Tailor made famous to us by being one of our favorite movies- seeing the store in its elegant reality was wonderful.
Again. Sandy's knowledge of all the small details that others would surely never know was fascinating. We took a long walk through St. James Park, enjoying the incredible collection of birds- even pelicans! that were enjoying the springtime weather and walked through to the yard behind the Horse Guards- or, Queen's Cavalry where Henry VIII used to joust!
As the sun started to set, Sandy was eager to take us to another treasure that a regular tourist family would likely never find...the Stunning Fortnum and Mason. Sandy thrilled us by introducing us to a historical department store that is marked by elegance and whimsy. One floor was devoted to a selection of teas and teapots, while another section devoted itself to the chocolatier selection for the most indulgent chocoholic! We finished our day at the famous Fortnum and Mason Ice Cream Shop- which was as delicious as it was charming...decorated as if right out of a children's favorite book.
Our day seemed too short despite the fact that our fitbit logged over 12 miles!!! Sandy brought us to the subway we needed to take before leaving us with the most fond memories, and a promise to return again!!! Next time we're in London, Sandy is the first person we're going to look up!!!!