England's Countryside & Wales

Day 03 - Saturday, May 16, 2015 - Sightseeing Tour of London

When we woke up at 7:00 the sky was a bit gray and it was 47° and 51% humidity. Vic had an English breakfast of eggs, sausage, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, and mushrooms. Gennie had porridge (oatmeal), yogurt, and we both enjoyed the fresh fruit. With a big breakfast like that we were ready for our sightseeing and walking tour of London.

At 8:30 sharp, Pebbles introduced us to our local guide, Stewart. We also met our bus driver, Christophe who would be with us for the morning. As it was Saturday morning, the traffic was light and we had no problems stopping to take photos.

Stewart taught us the Royal Wave, the Royal Smile, and gave us a brief history of this former Roman trading settlement called Londinium from the first century. He also told us about the Great Fire of 1666 that burned the city to the ground.

The German bombings of World War II destroyed the city again. The Blitz, which took place between 1940 and 1941, brought the heaviest casualties. Then between 1943 and the end of the war in 1945, London was targeted repeatedly.

Our first stop was at the New London Bridge. Stewart reminded us that the original London Bridge was sold to a developer in Lake Havasu, Arizona and taken down brick by brick and moved to the desert. From London Bridge we had perfect views of the Tower Bridge, The Shard, (tallest building in the EU), and the Thames River.

Back on the bus, we continued to Southwark where four hundred years ago there was heavy industry, gambling, prostitution, and worst of all - the theatres! This was home to William Shakespeare and his scandalous acting and writing colleagues.

As traffic picked up and the red double-decker tourist buses started their day, we vied for space to see Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park, the Big Ben clock tower, the Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus, The Millennial Bridge, and the London Eye Ferris Wheel.

We were able to spend time in St. Paul’s Cathedral, the People’s Church, where Charles and Diana were married in 1981. We had 20 minutes to explore the area and take photos. This was also the only free restroom in the city. We have learned to take advantage of “opportunities”!

While we were at the church Vic noticed many older gentlemen all wearing the same yellow and red striped tie. We talked to these men of the Middlesex Regiment who were having a reunion this morning.

They were heroes of World War II and some also fought in Korea. Several of them were very willing to tell us stories of their lives and their service to the United Kingdom.

Our next stop was at Westminster Abbey. The line was a block long and the cost was £20 ($31.45). We only had 15 minutes so we looked around the church and crossed over to Parliament Square.

We jumped back on our 15-passenger bus and drove to an alleyway near Buckingham Palace. Getting off of the bus, we zigzagged along the narrow back streets and finally came to the back gates of the palace.

We joined at least a gazillion other people who were there from all over the world taking photos, videos, selfies, and waiting for a glimpse of the Queen’s Guards. The guards are not just ceremonial but are made up of military men and women who serve Her Majesty all over the world.

The Changing of the Guard happens about 11:30 am every day and is one of the favorite attractions along with Royal Watching in London! After fighting our way out of the crowds we made it to the bus and drove back to the hotel.

We shared a sandwich we had purchased at the market yesterday evening. Setting off with a map of the city and the London Underground routes that Vic had downloaded before we arrived. We were ready for The Tube!

Our destination was the British Museum, a must see on many Bucket Lists. The museum is open everyday of the week and like all other London museums, it is free to the public. We walked to the Bank Underground Station and then rode for three stops on the Central or Red Line to Holborn Station.

We realized we could have spent three weeks in the museum, but we had only three hours and we wanted to make the most of our visit. We had seen the mummies in Egypt, the Roman ruins in Italy, the bronze castings in China, and the marble statues in Greece. We tried to concentrate our time on the Middle East and Persian Cultures.

Even though the Rosetta Stone is one of the most cherished and important artifacts in the museum, it is very poorly displayed. One can hardly see the three engraved scripts because of the glare of the lightening and the reflections of the glass. It was difficult to photograph, but in our mind’s eye we will always remember seeing this ancient text.

At 3:30 we left the British Museum and retraced our steps back to Holborn Station and then rode to the Bank Station. From there we figured out how to transfer to the Green Line to get to Tower Hill and our hotel.

By mid-afternoon, the temperature was 63° and the humidity was only 39%. The temperatures in the Tube/Underground were very high and we both mentioned how hot it would be in the summer.

After arriving back at our hotel, we congratulated ourselves on navigating the London Underground System. We thought about how our friend Marvin would be so proud of us!

We had to wait a bit as the housekeeper was just finishing cleaning our room, but we spent the remainder of the afternoon going through our photos and writing the journal. Gennie did a little hand laundry as it was cool and relatively dry today.

At 6:30 we went out to the Tower Park to find our evening meal. We chose “fish & chips” - a fitting dinner for our discovery of London.

Tomorrow is a travel day so we repacked our bags, organized for our bus ride to York, and called it a day!

Accommodations: Novotel London Tower Bridge Hotel - - - Meal: B

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Hi Sue, Thank you so much for the comment - we do appreciate you taking the time to look at our travels.

Vic & Gennie   May 18, 2015 - 5:54pm

Fun to "travel with you both" again! Enjoy!

Sue LaPlante   May 18, 2015 - 5:26pm

Yes we spent two days in the british museum, so much to see. Enjoying your trip with you too. Would love to spend time in England again. Spring is a beautiful time of year there.

sylvia emmons   May 17, 2015 - 2:31pm

Absolutely wonderful to keep in gpovh with you through you beautiful travels. well done! we miss you. And...wish we were with you. off to Alaska next week to see "the kids"...love to you both, Susie

susan derse   May 17, 2015 - 5:10am

Wonderful descriptions and no pictures of a "real" English breakfast??? I am disappointed. Good travels tomorrow. . .

Dee   May 16, 2015 - 9:39pm

WOW!!! Since I've never been to London, I can only imagine what it is like for the changing of the guards, the museums, all the wonderful buildings. I didn't know London had been destroyed, but it is awesome now. Thanks for the description of everything - sounds really interesting. I was tired after our walk and was glad to gt back to the room and rest a bit before travel tomorrow. Take care

Pat   May 16, 2015 - 9:04pm
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Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

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The Shard

The Shard

WWII Middlesex Regiment Hero

WWII Middlesex Regiment Hero

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral

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The Tube

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