Let’s Visit London with “Paddington Bear”

The much-awaited movie “Paddington”, directed by Paul King, based on the screenplay written by Mr King and Hamish McColl and produced by David Heyman (the producer of Harry Potter films) is due to come to the cinemas on December 25. On this occasion we’d like to introduce all our friends in advance to an itinerary for the exploration of the big English capital, inspired by the story of the lovable bear.

Below we want to provide some details without telling too much about the film … Who is “Paddington Bear”? “Paddington Bear” is a figure of British children’s literature which was invented in 1958 by the writer Michael Bond. In the movie, the bear, coming from Peru, arrives after a long journey in London, where he has been sent to join his aunt Lucy. Feeling alone and lost at his arrival in London, “Paddington Bear” is adopted by the Brown Family, who have found him at Paddington underground station, hence his name. He is only wearing an old hat and a bib bearing the writing of aunt Lucy: “Please, look after this bear. Thank you!”. “Paddington bear” is now living with the Brown Family at their home, located 32 Windsor Garden, not far from Portobello Road. His favourite food is marmalade. Usually, he wears a blue Montgomery duffle coat and carries his important belongings in a brown leather suitcase. The little bear is a very lovable figure, being always up to play pranks. The adventures of “Paddington Bear” are hilarious and the movie is quite amusing. You should really watch the film. It will make you burst out laughing!

Itinerary of our “Visit with Paddington Bear”

We are going to start our sightseeing tour through London following in the footsteps of the popular little bear.

First Day

Our tour begins at Paddington underground station (brown line to Bakerloo), which is what the endearing little bear is named after. Here you can not only shoot a picture of the bear’s bronze statue, but you ought to also visit the shop dedicated to this character, which provides various souvenirs and a wide array of books about the figure. Buying such a book provides a fine opportunity to familiarize your children with the English language and literature. Now we are going to follow in the footsteps of the little bear, having a little stroll at Portobello.

Taking the green district line from Paddington station, we will arrive in a flash at Notting Hill Gate which is very close to Portobello. The area owes its notoriety to the famous market, which is particularly well-known for antiques and post-war furniture (Saturday is the best day for lovers of old furniture). Clothing and vintage accessories can also be bought here.

When you stroll between the stalls looking for bargains, time goes by very quickly. At lunchtime we suggest a delightful rest at Charlie’s Portobello Road Café, which provides excellent salads, a wide range of sandwiches, including the unforgettable salmon sandwiches, as well as desserts and fruit juices. Everything is delicious. It is really worth a visit.

In the afternoon we recommend a visit to the Natural History Museum, where you arrive easily by taking the tube at Notting Hill Gate (yellow circle line) and getting off at South Kensington station.

At the Natural History Museum your children will gape in amazement. Right at the entrance a tremendous diplodocus skeleton greets the guests, indicating the exhibition area around the corner which houses a bunch of skeletons and bones of these fascinating prehistoric monsters. The museum shows the best of nature: giant dinosaur skeletons, minerals, fossils and precious stones. You shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit “Darwin Centre”. In this huge “Cocoon” the children can touch beetles and butterflies with their hands, plan a scientific expedition and even ask scientists questions about the studies they are carrying out in various laboratories.

Upon request and prior agreement it is moreover possible to visit a particularly amazing area where hundreds of specimens are preserved in formalin (dating back to the Darwinian period and more recent ones). And, you won’t believe it, scientists are still working and studying here to deepen the understanding of mammals and reptiles. The museum is organizing a lot of activities for children: laboratory workshops, performances, conferences and seminars. Every month the museum organizes so called “Dino Snores” nights for groups of at least five children from 8 to 11 years of age accompanied by an adult. For further information about the various initiatives and to choose the one which matches your interests best, please have a look at http://www.nhm.ac.uk/.

Since we think that the day is intensely occupied, we renounce on further suggestions. Yet, if you are in the mood to taste a special cuisine, we recommend the excellent “Lima Floral” Restaurant which provides dishes of the Peruvian cuisine, being located at 14 Garrick Street London WC2E 9B. It will for sure be a delightful experience.

Second Day

We’d like to suggest having a taxi tour, doing it just like “Paddington Bear” did. So hail a taxi, a traditional black taxi, and let it take you through London to the major monuments. You can stop at any time, shoot some photos and continue the tour with satisfaction. During the journey the taxi driver will give you all important information. This way you will enjoy a pleasant, interesting and diverting sightseeing tour. You can take photographs of Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery and a lot of other monuments. By organizing the visit of the city this way, you will always have the taxi driver as an interlocutor. So it will be much more personal than any other conventional way of sightseeing. We have done it ourselves and it has been an beautiful and amusing experience. For more information and the booking of your taxi tour please consult the website at http://www.blacktaxitours.co.uk/.

You will for sure be enthusiastic about the tour. Yet, perhaps you will feel somewhat faint by lunchtime. So let the taxi take you to Fortnum & Mason Store for an unforgettable afternoon tea. You shouldn’t think that the people in Britain always have afternoon tea at 5 o’clock. Generally, afternoon tea coincides with lunch. The preferred time of British people to celebrate this delightful ritual runs from 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm. Since tea is accompanied by delicious pastries and salads of any kind, it may indeed replace lunch. Fortnum & Mason Luxury Food Store is a historic address for excellent gastronomy. We recommend you first visit the various departments on several floors (jams, sweets, perfumes and exclusive and luxury fashion accessories will enchant you) before sitting down at a table in Diamond Jubilee Salon and choosing among 80 tea varieties. There is also a children’s department providing a host of “Paddington Bears”. Before leaving don’t forget to buy an orange marmalade which the little bear was so crazy about.

In the afternoon it may be worth staying in the area around Piccadilly Circus having a stroll through Regent Street and Oxford Street with their famous shops, notably Hamleys, one of London’s leading toy shops. Take your time to visit, since the shop has five floors. You can also undertake the short trip to Covent Garden and have dinner at Scoff & Banter Restaurant at 20 Mercer Street, London WC2H 9ND. It is a perfect place for families, since the restaurant provides an excellent children’s menu. It is also an ideal place for dinner, if you would like to attend a musical performance in the evening, given that the theatres are only a stones throw away. You are indeed in the heart of West End.

Third day

Usually, children are fascinated by the tales of kings and queens. Therefore London is an ideal destination to awaken the children’s interest in the past and historic events. We suggest you take them to the Tower of London. It was William the Conqueror who had this fortress built in 1078 as a symbol of his reign over England. Here you can explore fortifications, secret alleyways, frightening dungeons and resplendent rooms housing enormous treasures. The Tower of London houses hold the “Crown Jewels”, a spectacular and memorable discovery for both adults and children. http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/

In order to marvellously end this fantastic weekend we recommend you buy the twin ticket, including London Eye and London Eye River Cruise. You will most likely enjoy the view over London from above sitting comfortably in a cabin of the famous wheel and afterwards you will have a pleasurable boat trip of about 40 minutes on River Thames (buying the twin ticket, you will benefit a 10 % discount). For more information and for the booking, please consult the website at http://www.londoneye.com/.

We’d like to suggest staying at the beautiful Lancaster Hotel in London, which is very conveniently located at facing Hyde Park. The hotel offers throughout autumn and winter on the occasion of the start of the movie favourable rates for children. The “Paddington Bear Package” for families includes the following services:

accommodation for the whole family up to 4 people in two superior “city view” rooms (connected upon request), a little bear as a gift for the children, abundant buffet breakfast, television in the room with a wide choice of programs designed for children, bathrobe and slippers for both adults and children; being really privileged guests, the children receive  a VIP card for the restaurant, which includes a gift, a frisbee to play with in the near Hyde Park, a postcard to send to friends, a pencilset and a colouring book.

The described package for 4 people (2 adults and 2 children) costs £ 259.00 per night.

Don’t hesitate to book your weekend in London immediately!

Chiara Rosati