but since people have been asking, here's a glimpse of what we'll be up to. the booklet (all 65 pages of it) will only be shared with certain 'chosen' people (you know who you are) but, as i said i'm not kedekut ilmu, so i'll share our itinerary.
we're flying out on wednesday, in the wee hours of the morning, at 3:45am to be exact. the boys would be fast asleep then, so to ensure they sleep for the 7 hours of the journey we rely on dr piriton (with the blessings of the boys' pediatrician). the piriton will also be taken by the parents as we too need our sleep. we are to transit in doha and loved that the travel agency was very attentive and booked us on a connecting flight 2 hours after landing. not too short, not too long. i'm a bit nervous about the 2nd half of the journey as the boys would be up and awake.
our arrival time is quite good, 1:30pm local time. enough time for us to go through immigration and take the airport transfer to town and meet the apartment owner before it gets dark. then it would be unpacking and refreshing time before we step out to get our groceries. we were lucky to get a good apartment, a one-bedded which can sleep up to 6 people, right smack in town. its just off marylebone road and a stone's throw from oxford street and edgware road. kinda like the apartment we used to stay in at stourcliffe close. close to the amenities unlike the hyde park gate apartment - but of course the hyde park gate apartments were of a higher class being right in front of kensington palace (i saw the late lady di in her car once).
anyway, to keep the boys awake to follow the local time, we plan to bring them out - just to the nearby sainsbury's - and get them to fight the jet lag. hopefully we can get them to stay awake until 8pm, at least. then they'll be up at a good time the next day.
day 2 (thursday) - on our first proper day, we plan to take the hop-on-hop-off bus to get ourselves familiar with the area, what's new, what's attractive, what's changed. then we'll take the river cruise and hop back on the bus to get to rainforest cafe at trafalgar square for lunch. after that we'll go around leicester square, picadilly circus before taking a walk towards regent street (or hamleys to be exact). as we'll be indoors early every night (isyak is at 5pm) and on both weekends, we need to keep the boys occupied.
day 3 (friday) - this plan was a bit last minute, it was only finalised in october. i wasnt too keen on outdoor touristy stuff as it would be too cold. i was afraid hubby and the boys wouldnt enjoy being in that weather for too long. but after a lot of thoughts and discussions, we felt that a trip to england would not be complete if we did not visit a 'proper' castle. granted there's buckingham palace and kensington palace in london town itself but it would be nice to see a castle with nice greenery background. so we decided on a coach trip to windsor (being the closest external castle). while googling we found some tours which include one or two other destinations and decided to do a windsor plus oxford tour. the whole trip would be roughly 10 hours with traveling time and we wouldnt get to spend much time in each town (probably about 3 hours max each) but at least we get to cover 2 places in a day.
day 4 (saturday) - this would be hubby's footie day. he's gotten himself tickets for the arsenal-chelsea game. if we have time, we'd take a walk on oxford street in the morning before going our separate ways - hubby and amir to emirates, me and the other 3 back to marylebone.
day 5 (sunday) - we'll probably go down to spitalfields market. one of the apartments that we were looking at was in that area and i have slotted down one weekend to see the market. now that we've booked an apartment in marylebone, i still would like to drop by the market, but only if we're up to it.
day 6 (monday) - we plan to drive down to canterbury. there's a budget car rental very near the apartment, on marylebone road. they've got a good deal for vw sharan (which is even bigger than our 5) and its automatic. most car rental outlets offer a manual vauxhall zafira for the same price. the drive down wont be too long, about 1 and a half hours if i remember correctly. we'll be visiting my old uni (university of kent at canterbury), my lovely eliot college, the beloved parkwood, the high street and maybe the rupert bear museum. when i was there 15 years ago, there was no halal food at all. we bought our meat from 1 guy and it was difficult to get him. now i hear there's a couple of halal outlets in town, alhamdulillah for that. after lunch, we'll drive to ashford (about 25km away) for our pre-christmas shopping at the mcarthur glenn outlet.
day 7 (tuesday) - i found out that the place we'll be heading to will only be open at 12pm. i initially planned to leave the house by 8am to be first in line at the entrance at 10am but now we can leave around 9am and take a slow journey north to staffordshire. i think the boys will scream their lungs out when we arrive at 'thomas land'. right now hubby and i would use codes when discussing some of our plans, thomas land is 'tempat keretapi'. if they boys knew we're planning a trip to their heaven on earth, they would bug us everyday since january. we plan to stay until around 4-430pm before the park closes and before the evening rush hour starts. the we'll be taking the m6 to manchester and spending the night there.
day 8 (wednesday) - i've booked 2 rooms at premier inn without breakfast (i still cant believe a family room costs only £29) so we'll be having our own simple cereal breakfast in the room. at 10am, we would have to be in old trafford for a stadium tour. then we'll drive back to the inn, solat, freshen up and check-out. just a short overnight trip up north. on the way back we plan to stop by bicester village. we're not big shoppers so maybe 3-4 hours would be enough. after dinner at either harry ramsden or pret a manger, we'll start our journey down south.
day 9 (thursday) - early in the morning hubby would be returning the rented sharan. then we'll make our way via the victoria line to emirates stadium. hubby's looking at the legend's tour so we'd prolly be there til around lunchtime. after the tour, we'll take the victoria line to oxford circus and do a bit of shopping. we're trying not to overdo our plans for this day as we had 3 days on the road.
day 10 (friday) - the morning will be spent at madame tussauds. its near the apartment so that we can go back easily when hubby goes off for his friday prayers. after lunch we have no specific plans laid out as its christmas eve. dont think there'll be many places opened and the transport services wont be at its full capacity. so this will be the start of our 3 days at home.
day 11 (saturday) - its prolly good that christmas falls on the weekend at least we wont lose any weekdays. i'd love to go around to look at christmas lights but then again, the transport services may not be encouraging.
day 12 (sunday) - boxing day. another day of footie for hubby. this time its arsenal v stoke. so another day at home for me plus three.
day 13 (monday) - this is another trip where hubby and i use codes. for this its 'tempat tikus'. i cant even spell as the boys know how mickey mouse is spelt. we'll be taking the early morning eurostar down to paris. i wanted to get a train+hotel+park tickets package but they only offer certain train schedule and i'm not keen on leaving the park at 7pm and arriving at st pancras after 9pm. so a better option would be to take the eurostar to paris then take the local train to marne-la-vallee. that would also give us the opportunity to walk around paris. hubby wants to see the eiffel tower and the arch de triomph. i googled a bit and managed to prepare a sub-itinerary for paris, which includes where to leave our luggage, what time is the local train, etc. as we'll be arriving in paris quite early, we'll be able to walk, see the sights, have lunch, take the train and arrive in disneyland around 4pm. i booked us at sequoia lodge. it was a toss between that and the newport bay hotel - both same star, nearby, similar amenities. i stayed at the newport bay with tisu and nenny in 1997 and really liked it. but i have a feeling hubby would like the outdoor-ish environment that sequoia lodge offers. i was lucky to come across a website that lists down the menu of all restaurants in disneyland, so i could browse and decide which would suit us beforehand. we'll be dining at annette's diner on our first night in disneyland. i was attracted by the waitress in rollerskates concept. i'm also thinking whether we want to take the boys to see the wild wild west show but i'm afraid they'd be too tired from the journey.
day 14 (tuesday) - whole day in disneyland. i hope the boys love it. lunch would be at buzz lightyear pizza planet - more for the decor than the food (as the review says) and dinner would be simple mcdonalds at disney village.
day 15 (wednesday) - we'll be checking out and taking the eurostar from paris at 1:04pm. i do think to cover all parks we need more than 2 days but not this time. not to mention, the outlet shopping. an excuse for us to go back??
day 16 (thursday) - final shopping day to buy anything we left out and to take advantage of the boxing day sale. one item which is a must is luggage...i have a feeling we'll be going back with double the amount we came with. packing day for me.
day 17 (friday) - our last day in my kampung. even as i write this i'm getting chills. 17 days, pass by just like that.
so there...our itinerary for the trip. our booklet is more detailed with solat times, info of places, pre-travel, post-travel, timing, maps, booking info. i hope it satisfies those who asked to see the list. if it doesnt, then do look for everybody's best friend - mr google