one full day in London

London Travel Blog

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Changing of the Guard through a gate at Buckingham Palace

Arriving in London at 7:30 (WEST), the city somehow felt smaller.  At that point, the status of my backpack was my sole remaining worry.  Again, to my relief, it was just how I had left it two days earlier, secure in the locker.  Barbara, the Canadian girl I met before my jaunt to Paris, was there as well and we exchanged a few anecdotes of our recent experiences before heading down for another hostel breakfast.


After my shower, Barbara and I went out to Buckingham Palace where droves of spectators were gathered to watch the Changing of the Guard.

Changing of the Guard over the fence at Buckingham Palace
  While Barbara waited across the street, I endeavored to cross and joined the hordes of tourists who had come to see the monotonous, weekly procession.


The earliest visitors had packed themselves in like sardines and those in the front clung to the rails of the iron fence to ensure they would retain their positions.  The lot of them refused to part ways or relinquish an inch to allow the masses behind even a momentary view.  Standing on my toes, I could almost see over their heads, but not well enough to snap a clear photo.


The spectacle that so stimulated those who declined to budge amounted to little more than a group of men in red coats with gold details and silly black hats, standing around in even formation.  All I wanted was one adequate photo, but was unable to penetrate close enough to reach my lens through the gate.  If I could not shoot through the fence, perhaps I could reach over it, I figured.  I began to scale one of the stone columns to reach over the top, but before I could align my camera, a mounted female officer discourteously chased me off.

Queen Victoria's Memorial gardens & Buckingham Palace


After the fiasco at Buckingham Palace, Barbara and I then continued on to the Tate Britain, a free art museum.  A couple of favorites I thought to note were Brown Eyes by Sir George Clausen and Mrs Mounter at the Breakfast Table by Harold Gilman.  Some others appealed to me as well, but I was too hot to think of jotting down their names.


Checking the prices at Madame Tussaud’s, we saw that entrance would cost ₤17 (~$26.36) each until 17:00, at which time the price is slashed to ₤10 (~$15.50), so we decided to wait and asked a couple of old gentlemen on the sidewalk for ideas how to pass the time.

Evans in a red British phone box by Tate Britain
  They recommended Allsop Arms pub and a good suggestion it was.  I had Aberdeen Angus beef lasagna and a snakebite (Strongbow cider with blackcurrant syrup), which tasted like Cherry Coke.


After our early dinner, we returned to Madame Tussaud’s for the discounted rate.  The planetarium show featured some decent visuals, but presentation poorly represented most of the cosmological events.  We did have a fun time in the wax museum and found most of the figures on display to appear rather lifelike, even if I recognized only half of the characters.  The chamber of horrors and history ride were also well done and all together, it was worth the reduced admission.


Barbara went to a play afterward and I went to Covent Garden were a street comic was working the crowd.

Evans with a Spice Girl in Madame Tussaud’s (sorry, I know it's crude, but regrettably this is the only pic I have with one of the wax figure)
  I had seen better acts and found distasteful his abrasive requests for tips by the pound or greater, so I shortly moved along.  Circling around the carnival rides, I found other buskers who were more entertaining and less demanding of high gratuities.  It was an active, bustling district with plenty of culture to absorb.  I stayed in the district until the evening began to chill.


Returning to the hostel for my jacket, I met two more of my backpack’s roommates, Brian from Detroit and Siggi from Denmark.  The three of us had a drink in the Generator bar and then found our way to The Comedy Store.  The club was pricey at ₤15 (~$23.26) per person, but for the money, we had some great laughs.  The opener and the first two acts were hilarious.  The smoke, dim light, four pints of Aroits Stella, and my complete lack of sleep over the previous two nights on the coach made it difficult to remain conscious through the last two acts.

Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors
  One was a ventriloquist, though, and I have never much fancied talking puppet routines, so snoozing through it was no great loss.


The show ended just before 3:00am and we made the long haul back in about an hour.  I had not booked a bed for the night and figured I would sleep on the floor if all of the beds were in use.  As my eyes adjusted to the darkened room, I scanned the room and found that there was indeed a vacant bunk; it was my oasis in a desert of exhaustion.
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Changing of the Guard through a ga…
Changing of the Guard through a g…
Changing of the Guard over the fen…
Changing of the Guard over the fe…
Queen Victorias Memorial gardens …
Queen Victoria's Memorial gardens…
Evans in a red British phone box b…
Evans in a red British phone box …
Evans with a Spice Girl in Madame …
Evans with a Spice Girl in Madame…
Madame Tussauds Chamber of Horrors
Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors
photo by: ulysses