Happy Friday, RMT’ers! I’m making today’s post more of a “Foto Friday” because words alone simply can’t describe our day-excursion two hours south of London to the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth to ride the old steam trains. It’s also more of a photo post because we took a lot of photos, so please enjoy!
Our London Holiday, March 31-through-April 9, 2013:
1. British Airways LAX-LHR
2. The Waldorf Hilton, London
3. Covent Garden Neighborhood
4. London Transport Museum
5. Day Out in London – Traditional Landmarks
6. Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens, and Green Park/Buckingham Palace
7. Muggles and Magicians: The Harry Potter Experience
8. Family Remembrance and Celebration: Brookwood Cemetery and The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre
9. Day Trip: Isle of Wight and Portsmouth, UK TODAY’S POST
10. Day Out: Greenwich, UK
11. Tower of London
12. London’s Shopping Shrines: Hamleys Toys and Harrods
Yes, you read that correctly: We took a train to go ride more trains all day long, and it was a day we will never forget. Our trip to the Isle of Wight off the coast of Portsmouth originated out of Waterloo Station in London. There we purchased a ticket package that included National Rail day-return (meaning round-trip) tickets to Portsmouth Harbour, the passenger ferry day-return tickets from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight, the Isle’s Southwest Rail train day-pass, and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway train tickets out of Smallbrook Junction. Each of us received three pairs of tickets at Waterloo, with the ferry and London-to-Portsmouth Harbour ticket printed on one pass. You can do what we did and walk up to buy the ticket package the day-of, or you can buy online before your holiday. As we were unsure which day we’d be up for the day away (jet lag, weather, feeling comfortable leaving London for an entire day, which this trip requires), we bought morning-of and left within the hour of our purchase. For more information on this all-inclusive day-trip ticket package through National Rail, go to this website; to check which steam train lines will be running while on the Isle, please check their website.
Oh, and do not forget to pick up some Kinder Eggs before your day-trip! Kinder Eggs are an inexpensive, fun way to keep the kids entertained and a nice vacation treat for anyone. T got very used to having a “chocolate egg” during our longer train travel days, which meant I got chocolate (since he doesn’t care for it much) and he got a toy. Yes, these eggs have small trinkets and toys inside of them! They are highly sought-after by us Americans because of our silly laws that do not allow them to be sold Stateside (choking hazards and such). But there’s apparently no law about buying-and-bringing-back (which we certainly did)! Tip: Hold off to make your larger buy at the airport duty-free to carry on your flight back to the States. Not only did duty-free offer a wide variety of Kinder Egg gift packs, but it was much easier (and involved a shorter amount of time in your trip) to transport without breaking or melting the eggs, too.
OK, back to the trains. Once the ferry docks on the Isle of Wight, a local rail takes passengers over the causeway onto the island proper. To get to the steam trains, we got off at Smallbrook Junction. There you walk up to the steam train ticket window to either buy or show your pre-bought tickets for the island’s steam railway lines, which are good all day on any of the trains operating.
The railway line for the steam train is short, small, and quaint. And T loved it. So did we. Enjoy chugging through even more pictures.
We spent all afternoon on the Isle of Wight, including stops inside of their local steam train museums, switch rooms, and repair yards at Havenstreet, the main station along the steam railway. The history here is proud, long, and loved by its people, and they are eager to share it with visitors and locals alike.
After our day riding the train back and forth on the Isle of Wight and before our return to London, we had dinner in Portsmouth. We found a local pub near the port and train station, which was the perfect ending to a fantastic day-trip away. They even had nachos!
I’d recommend Isle of Wight to any family looking for a different kind of day-trip out of London, especially for those who love trains. The naval and boat history in Portsmouth is also worth mentioning, though we ran out of time for that on our visit. As we like to say, maybe we’ll go back and do that next time. I think it was Rick Steves that said it best: “Believe in a lifetime of trips, not the trip of a lifetime.” Another way of saying it is, that ship hasn’t sailed yet.
Looking for more train-related fun closer to home? Then please check out my new train page devoted to rides, outings, museums, and other activities!