Friday, July 26, 2013

England {day 2}

Our first full day in London! We started the morning with a breakfast of toasted crumpets with butter and jam, scrambled eggs, and fruit. I really loved having a kitchen, though we only ever ate breakfast at the flat.

And then we were on our way! Our first item on the agenda was a bus tour of London. Technically it was a hop-on-hop-off tour, but we opted not to hop off and simply stayed on for the whole loop to get our first glimpse of the city. We got on the bus near Westminster Abbey so when we got back off we'd be well situated for our second stop of the day. When we walked up out of the Westminster tube station, we found ourselves right across from Big Ben. That was a great feeling.

And here we are on our bus tour...

 Just a few shots from the bus:
Tower Bridge
The Tower of London
 Of course we passed many more things and saw quite a bit of the city. We had some very friendly, funny guides who had a lot of information, and even when we got into some pretty bad traffic and were at a standstill for quite a while, they managed to keep us entertained.

Back off the bus, it was lunch time, so we passed back by Big Ben and Westminster Abbey on our way to get some food.

We ate the Cellarium Cafe, which long ago was a part of Westminster Abbey where monks kept their food. Great ambiance, fine food, but not the best service.
Thomas enjoying his chicken pie
You are not allowed to take pictures in the Abbey, so we have no visual proof of it, but we had a wonderful time there. It is a stunning cathedral and there are just so, so many famous people buried there. Chaucer, Dickens, Tennyson, Newton, Handel, Darwin, too many kings and queens of England to count. Even more moving than those, though, was the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Our favorite part was the guided tour we took. It cost a little bit extra, but it was worth it. The verger who led our tour did a wonderful job and told so much about the history of the Abbey and the people there. We also were able to go into the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor (which was a huge deal for Thomas. He was freaking out), which you can't do unless you are on the guided tour.
In one of the few places where you can take pictures, here is Thomas and Britain's oldest door
Westminster from the outside
me and Big Ben!
Our next stop was the Churchill War Rooms. These were the actual rooms from which Churchill led Britain's involvement in World War II. Their location was secret during and after the war, but they were in constant use. One room at least had never had the light turned out during the entire war. But once the war ended, everyone up and left--and turned out the light for the first time in six years. Several of the rooms are kept exactly the way they were left at that time, so you can really see how people lived and worked during the Blitz. It was fascinating. It also includes a museum of Winston Churchill's life, so detailed that you could spend an entire day there.

When we finished there, we walked across the street to St. James's Park. Of all the royal parks we visited, this was my favorite. It was beautiful and peaceful, hard to believe it's located in the middle of such a busy area of London.
that's Buckingham Palace in the background

After leaving the park, we walked past Buckingham Palace. We skipped seeing the changing of the guards during our trip and you can only tour the palace during August and September, so this was our one and only glimpse.

We continued walking, through Piccadilly Circus and down Regent Street to Hamleys, the largest toy store in the world, where we needed to pick something up for a certain little boy.

Hamleys is an amazing toy store. Seven floors with all the different kinds of toys you can think of, jovial workers who play (quite literally) with the customers, amazing Lego creations...
Now Jamie had initially been very upset about the idea of us (especially me) going to England. The explanation that he finally accepted and seemed mostly okay with was that we needed to go to England on a quest to find him a special toy. When I asked him what kind of toy he'd like, his first choice was a "toy shop." I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that (did he want the entire toy store? or just a little store he could play with? if the latter, a store selling what, exactly?) and we had some trouble at first finding something that quite fit the bill. Finally we settled on a toy cash register, complete with working calculator and opening till, little play boxes and cans of food, and some British play money. And we threw in some chocolate beetles for good measure. Satisfied with our purchases, we got dinner at a place called Mother Mash that serves sausages or meat pies with mashed potatoes. It was one of our most affordable meals, but after our dinner the previous night, it wasn't too impressive.

This was one of the nights my feet hurt the most, so it was very nice to get back to the flat and go to bed a little earlier than we did the rest of the week. A great day and a great start to our week!

No comments:

Post a Comment