...in merry ole England... Not a single mention of it except from the Americans.
Speaking of Americans, you could tell who they were - shorts, sneakers, t-shirts.
Yup, a picture perfect example of the Ugly American - especially with winter white skin and no muscle tone...
We had a very full day today.
After breakfast, we had signed up for a half-day tour of the Buckingham Palace
area, which included Westminster Abbey. But before arriving there, we drove through Oxford Circus and Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Circus, which is just up the street from Trafalgar Square with the big fountains and all those pigeons (which by the way are illegal to feed - if you do, it's a #100, which translates to roughly $200 USD due to the TERRIBLE exchange rate
The first stop was the barracks of the palace guards to watch as they prepared for the changing of the guards. This takes place twice daily - one at 11:30 and one in the afternoon (not sure of the time since we were there to watch the 11:30). It takes place in the middle of daytime traffic - there is a roundabout (what they call rotaries over in London) in front of the gates where they march out toward the Palace. Turns out a couple of mounted police are on guard and at the appointed time, they stop traffic to let them out. After they get onto the street and if it is wide enough, the traffic goes on. It's so funny to watch them march along on in the left hand lane of the street with cars wizzing by them. But no one seems to mind.
England is full of parks. St. James Park is across from the barracks and seems to span the whole of an entire large block up the road from Buckingham Palace
. Too bad I forgot to take my allergy meds - there was crap from the plants flying around because, you see, London is WINDY, TOO!!! ARG!!!
Next we viewed Buckingham Palace
from afar. There was a throng of people
, which I was duly informed was rather smaller than usual - egads! - so we decided to stay well away from the madding crowds! The lightpoles around the palace had little crowns on top! They were so cute! I guess the Queen was not in as the Union Jack was flying from the flag pole. If she is in, then they put up her own flag. Turns out that the minute she leaves or enters, that flag is being changed. If she goes out for an hour, they still change it. Go figure. Anyway, today the Queen was in residence at Windsor Castle,
where they call "home." I guess Buckingham Palace is the"office." This what the English said even though some information status that it's her residence. I guess it's the idea of the country house and city house. Whatever...
Next onward ho to Westminster Abbey...
Did I mention that when I think to myself, I am thinking with a British accents??? ARG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just a matter of time before my mimic-ability comes out and I actually speak that way... turns out I am already picking up a few words here and there and starting to use them as if I'd been a Brit all my life.... Bloody hell...
was just huge. Turns out that the Abbey grounds have been turned into a school called the Westminster School. It's a boy's school but just this year they decided to experience and admit a handful of girls in the upper grades (I think the equivalent of 11th and 12th grades in the USofA). The boys all wear uniforms consisting of jackets and ties. There is also the Westminster Boys' Choir School, which is a different school than the Westminster School. The Abbey is large and shadows everything around it. It is so beautiful and so massive - it's hard to imagine people building these structures by hand!
After the tour was over, we decided to go to the Tower of London
. About three years ago, I had spent a lot of time, like a YEAR
, reading about the Elizabethan age in England. Don't ask me why. It's just something I do...
Anyway... I had read about the Tower and Elizabeth R, and Mary Queen of Scots, etc etc etc., and I had read about the "Bloody Tower
" and the two princes were had been murdered there - presumably by there Uncle who was sitting on the throne at the time, so one story states - so I was SO excited to go to the tower
. It's nothing like I expected. By the name, I thought it was a TOWER
. The name is the TOWER! Well.. it's another palace-like structure without the palace part. It does have a tower where lots of people had been imprisoned before they were beheaded - most notably Sir Walter Raleigh (who came to NC and Raleigh NC is named after him) and two of King Henry VIII's wives, but it also has a chapel and grounds, shops and such that kept the Tower running! It was on the Thames and common prisoners would be brought by water through the Traitor's Gate. Also there are ravens being cared for on the grounds. They've been there for almost forever. Rumor has it that if the Ravens fly away, then Britain will fall. So they've clipped the wings of the ravens. Seems like that's cheating to me...
The Tube is awesome. Very clean and very much used. There are buses everywhere and it seems that everyone uses public transportation - except those who drove the cars we dodge when we crossed the street.
Back to the hotel. We changed into bathing suits and I sat in the jacuzzi to recover from the full day while Joseph swam.
Dinner that night we went to a private cocktail reception at the Cabinet War Rooms
. It was the bunker used by Winston Churchill all through WWII. It was a little city all unto it's own. It had just opened and turns out that my work contribued money to the restoration. We saw the maps that had been used, and all the rooms were laid out just as if Winston and Clementine Churchill had stepped out for a moment. There were lifelike figures displaying what they did on a normal day. We saw the red phone that had a direct link to Washington DC. It was so awesome. I will definitely go back and spend a day there. One neat part was the actual Chruchill Museum. There was an interactive digital calendar that was like a gigantical long table top. You used your finger to slide the arrow and information would pop up. If you pressed November 30th on a particular year, 90 candles would appear; it was Churchill's 90th birthday! And I think August 6th was another special day but I can't remember what it was... Dang!!!! It spanned from the 1800's to right before Churchill was born almost modern times. I could have spent the whole day reading every single thing!!! We even took pictures in front of the original door from 10 Downing Street where Churchill lived. AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!!!
Dinner was at an English Pub. What can I say? Just a Guiness and fish and chips. Now, they know how to make fish and chips in the UK!
Back to the hotel...another full day tomorrow!!Exercise Note.
Lots of walking!!!