Family Trip to London Day 5

On Day 5, we had tickets to see The Nutcracker at the English Coliseum! When Max and I went to London in 2010, we saw Wicked in London's West End, and as soon as we booked this trip I knew I wanted to do some sort of show again. The Nutcracker with the English National Ballet was the perfect option for us. We slept in a bit that morning since we had done so much the day before (and Max was exhausted after two full days of his conference plus keeping up with everything back at the office). Parker and I were stoked to have him all to ourselves for the rest of the trip!

We hopped on the tube around 10AM and headed straight to Covent Garden Market. Similar to Borough Market, it was open-air with food and shops. 

It was awesome but freezing. While they had lots of yummy food stalls, we really wanted to eat lunch somewhere indoors so that we could warm up. We let Parker choose... cheeseburgers from Shake Shack. Yep, we traveled all the way to England to eat at a Shake Shack (I had actually never been to one and it was quite tasty!). 

The London Transport Museum was right next to the market. I snapped this photo below while we were in line for tickets - we got such the kick out of pointing out all the different names for things to Parker.

The London Transport Museum was one of the activities Max really wanted to do (he thought Parker would love it), but I originally gave it the side-eye. I thought it would just be a bunch of buses. Yawn. So I was pleasantly surprised when we took the lift up to the top floor and I realized it was a history of London transportation. This mural showed London in 1800 - look what was already there so many years ago! Amazing.

We went through different models and replicas of how the train system and metro came to be, starting from horse-drawn carriages.

Give me all the history, please.

Kids were given a stamper page and were encouraged to visit each of 13 stations for a stamp. It really made the whole experience so exciting for Parker - he was all about getting those stamps (it also helped us make sure we hit each area - so clever). 

Parker was obsessed with the working crosswalk (he loved pressing the buttons for the real ones on the street, so he got a kick out of doing this indoor one over and over). 

And even though I didn't think I'd be impressed, the buses were actually quite neat 😉

The museum boasted a collection of vintage prints:

We just had a blast there! In all the articles and blog posts I had read before planning our trip, not a single person mentioned the Transport Museum (which is part of why I was originally skeptical), but I highly recommend it if you'll be in the area!

Obligatory red phone booth photo:

On our walk to The Coliseum!

The inside was even more stunning in person! We arrived just in time to check our pram and coats and find our seats (we were lucky to score seats in the stalls).


Ready for the ballet! The London Coliseum had a strict "five years and older" rule posted on their website, but since this guy was almost five, we thought we were good. Besides, it would be his fourth time seeing The Nutcracker! He started at age one-and-a-half in Huntsville, saw it again there the next year, and we took in a Nashville viewing last year. Not doing television or screens at home has made live shows like this a real treat for him, so he's been able to sit attentively from that young age.

We caught the 2:30PM matinee performance, and were so excited to see The English National Ballet and listen to the English National Orchestra!

Both were superb!

We let Parker pick out a small nutcracker to take home as a souvenir. 

After the show, we collected our coats and I snapped this photos of the pointe shoe Christmas tree in the lobby:

From there, we basically popped out onto Trafalgar Square. There were a number of different musical ensembles playing, but we made our was down to the base of the tree to catch the Christmas carolers!

We had a ten minute walk from there into Soho for our 5:45PM dinner reservation. Why so early you ask? Well, I had my heart set on trying The Palomar, another of the Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurants. However, they only take reservations on weekends, and only for seatings of 3-4 persons from 5:30PM-6:00PM, otherwise it's first-come first-served via a queue that forms before they even open at 5:30PM. Have you ever seen that Seinfeld episode with the Soup Nazi? It came to mind. So, I made reservations in October for our December dinner, and chose 5:45PM to give us plenty of time to make our way over from The Coliseum after the ballet. 

We arrived, and there was a significant line, so we hopped in the back. It was probably 5:40PM at this point, and I didn't want to actually miss our reservation time, so I walked up to the front just to see what was going on. I asked if the group at the front had reservations. They did. I asked the couple in back of them. They did. I was getting a little worried at this point as the restaurant had only been open for 10 minutes, and there was a line of people with reservations. I asked the next group of people, and they did not have reservations (and I think I may have worried them terribly after they heard that everyone in front of them did). Turns out the line went very quickly as they were still seating everyone with reservations (it's only a forty top space, plus counter area). Once we got to the front and actually walked in, it was almost 5:45PM. We listened to the couple in front of us ask for a table, and heard the hostess let them down by saying maybe they could fit them in close to 8PM. Y'all. It was crazy. I think the man offered to pay the hostess off at one point but she wasn't having any of it. When it was my turn, I'm telling you, I had Soup Nazi running through my head. I walked up and recited our name and time and waited just holding my breath (I had never been so happy to have a reservation). Turns out it's a whole different story if you have one, and we were whisked back by a friendly host who told Parker he hoped he was hungry, and they even took our coats and pram. 

The Palomar boasts food of "Modern Day Jerusalem" with influences of Southern Spain and North Africa. It's a small plates menu, so we got to sample several different dishes including Kubaneh (a traditional Jewish bread), Burnt Courgette Tzatziki (zucchini is called courgette in the U.K.), Scallops (with potatoes, corn, and bacon - top right), Chicken with Forbidden Rice & Crispy Skin (bottom right), Pork Belly Siske (with celeriac, carrot and apricot - bottom left), and Kohlrabi (with sour cream, walnuts ands schug - not shown). It was all so different and fun. You know how there are people who eat to live and people who live to eat? I'm definitely in the latter group. The scallops were cooked perfectly, the pork belly was scrumptious, the chicken skin was so tasty, and I had never had cooked kohlrabi before (I had only eaten it raw) - I was in love! We had to try the dessert, so we all shared the Choclava Chocolate Crémeux (with caramelised pecans, citrus cream & chocolate truffles). Maybe one of my favorite desserts ever. 

We headed back to The Underground with full bellies. We had intentions of visiting The National Galleries that night (they are in the same area and are open late on Friday nights), but we were beat. So, we headed back to the hotel with hopes of stopping by the next day, which would be our last full day in London! 

If you missed our other London recaps, you can find:
Day One HERE, Day Two HERE, Day Three HEREand Day Four HERE

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