Last month we travelled to London for the launch of the I Am Number 17 campaign that I am part of. My partner and mum came on the trip with me. We spent two nights in the big city and had a great time exploring. This is how we spent our three days in London including where we stayed and what we did.
We travelled from Edinburgh Aiport to London City Airport. You may have read my previous post about my experience at London City Airport. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it HERE. It’s safe to say I was happy to be reunited with my wheelchair after using the stairclimber to deboard the plane. It was a relief to be met with the friendliest taxi driver who really made us feel welcome and accommodated.
The taxi company is called Wheelchair Taxis and his name was Tony. Top bloke and is a true credit to the company. Tony ensured I was comfortable and secure inside the Mercedes Vito taxi. I don’t have much trunk control so I was happy to wear the chest harass style seat belt. Not going to lie I felt like I was ready to do a skydive.
We stayed in Premier Inn Blackfriars which was around 30 minutes from London City Airport. During the taxi journey to the hotel, Tony gave us some local information and tips of things to see and do.
Check-in was quick and easy (thanks Musfada). It was great to see Alan, one of the participants of the campaign who was also checking in. I had previously met him at our first meeting in London a few months before.
Our accessible room was located on the first floor in room 201. The bedroom was spacious with more than enough room for moving around. The bed was lowered and was the usual comfortable standard we all expect and love from Premier Inn. There was also a sofa bed in the room which would be good if travelling with a child.
The bathroom was also very spacious with a roll-in shower. It had everything I needed including grab rails next to the toilet and a sink that I was able to (just) roll underneath.
We didn’t spend a lot of time in our room but it was comfortable and we had two nights of amazing sleep. Our room faced onto a quiet street so there was no cars or noise from people passing.
After dropping our bags we headed out to explore the area. We stopped for lunch at Bryon Burger where we all enjoyed vegan burgers.
Once fed and watered we continued to walk until we reached Trafalgar Street. There was a street musician who we happily stopped and listened to. His name is Davide Tomai and his music was really good.
It was a nice but cold night as sunset was settling in. We strolled around before being creeped out by someone dressed as Pennywise from IT. His costume was brilliant and he had the voice to match. He loved terrifying everyone who passed. We laughed as he sat calmly and waved at me. Even posed for a photo.
We kept walking and eventually made it to Piccadilly Circus. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t up to much. To escape the cold we went into Waterstones and headed straight to the cafe. We ended up regretting this decision when my mum and I got stuck in the platform lift.
Fifteen minutes later the manager managed to free us but we still needed to get up the steps. The manager came back with two portable ramps and tried to join them. To be honest, one would have done the job.
Safely back on ground level, we headed towards China Town. It was cool to see all the Chinese lanterns and the preparations of Chinese New Year which were taking place in a few days time.
Our second day in London began with a nice breakfast in our hotel. Afterwards, we got an uberWAV to Covent Garden. I’ve heard so many people recommend Covent Garden so we wanted to check it out. This was also somewhere my mum wanted to visit.
We had a stroll around and looked in a few shops and the market stalls. It was a bumpy visit with lots of cobblestones, but there are some nice spots for photo opportunities.
There are quite a few restaurants in and around Covent Garden, but we struggled to find one that didn’t have a step, wasn’t too busy and had vegan options. In the end, we opted for fries from Shake Shack which we ended up sharing with the pigeons. I couldn’t access the tables in Shake Shack and since I need a table to lean on to eat, my mum had to feed me. Not ideal, but we made it work.
It was then time to head back to the hotel to get ready for the campaign launch. We jumped in another uberWAV and after a quick pit stop, we made our way to the launch.
The I Am Number 17 campaign launch was held at OXO@Gallery along the South bank. It was a great location for the launch and to display all seventeen pieces of artwork. You can read all about the campaign in my post HERE.
We had dinner reservations at Giraffe, a cool restaurant with options including American, Japanese and Mexican. It was only an eight-minute walk from the gallery so it was nice to walk along the South bank at night and see all the lights.
This was our first time at Giraffe and we all loved our meals. My mum and I went for the jackfruit curry and Allan had the katsu curry. It was delicious. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for dessert as we had tickets for the theatre.
Earlier that morning we managed to call and book tickets for The Phantom of the Opera. We had tried to get tickets for a few other shows but we couldn’t get accessible tickets. We weren’t quite sure what to expect from The Phantom of the Opera, but it was fantastic.
Allan had already seen it many years ago during a school trip to London, but couldn’t remember it. All three of us thoroughly enjoyed it and felt ourselves getting fully caught up in the story. The cast is incredibly talented and has phenomenal voices.
Her Majesty’s Theatre has very good wheelchair accessible. As we arrived a staff member on the door advised Allan to nip in and collect our tickets from the box office. Once Allan returned he closed his door and asked the people queuing to wait. He guided us around the corner of the building where his colleague was standing. From there we were guided inside. We were shown where the accessible toilet was located (which is next to the accessible entrance/exit and close to our accessible seats at the back). The view from our seats was really good.
The staff were lovely, welcoming and friendly. If you haven’t seen The Phantom of the Opera then I’d recommend you give it a go, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
We had another nice breakfast at the hotel before heading out to spend our last few hours in London. As we were waiting for our uberWAV to arrive it was good to get a chance to say goodbye to some of my fellow changemakers.
Our uber driver dropped us off near Buckingham Palace. We walked up The Mall to the Palace and even got to see the guards change. It was then time for a stroll through St. James Park. Although it was freezing cold it was still nice to walk through and watch the different wildlife including squirrels, pelicans as well as various ducks and birds.
We continued walking until we reached Parliament Square then Westminister. Of course, we stopped for some photo ops before walking across Westminister Bridge and along the South Bank.
It was nice not having a plan as it allowed us to just walk and see what we happened to stumble upon. When the cold got too much we escaped inside The National Theatre. We sat in the cafe for a little while, had something to drink and warmed up.
Next up was the Tate Museum which was only a ten-minute walk from The National Theatre. Allan and I have been to the Tate before, so we thought it would be a good place to take my mum. Before we went into the museum we decided to pop into Wagamamas for some lunch. We love Wagamamas so we were all looking forward to it. The waiter took us to the only table with seats that can move.
When I say seats, what I really mean is a bench type seat. All bench seats were welded to the floor unable to move. Only one small bench seat could be moved from a table at the back of the restaurant. We gave it a try but the space was so tight at the table that I couldn’t get my wheelchair close to the table. The tables are also WAY too high. Frustrating and ridiculous. We had no choice but to leave.
Instead, we headed next door to LEON. This was our first time trying LEON and it was good. Although I couldn’t get into that table properly either, it was a lot better than Wagamamas. Come on restaurants, please make your tables and chairs accessible.
We had a quick look around the Tate Museum and before leaving we went up the top to see the view across the city. The sun had already set so it was beautiful to see London lit up.
Our time in London was almost up so we had to quickly make it back to the hotel for our taxi back to the airport. Tony, our taxi driver from a few days ago was waiting to take us to the airport. He was just as lovely as before. A proper gent.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good experience at the airport, which you can read about HERE. Once boarded we were happy with our upgrade to business. Thank you to the lovely cabin crew who offered us these seats to make transferring easier. As you can see, Allan loved all that extra legroom.