Day 2: London

London Travel Blog

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Jenni and Tracy with Guard at St James Palace.

This morning our entire group (Tracy, Valerie, Jacob, Jonathan and I) headed off to London via Eurostar Express. EE is the high speed train that gets one to London in only 2.5 hours, going through the Chunnel in the process.

 

The train ride was rather uneventful except for our required running to get on the train due to my poor planning. I had not brought with me the credit card I'd used to purchase the tickets months ago and so the agent had to cancel that order and reissue new tickets for security.

Parliament
The whole process ate up more than 30 minutes and so we just barely finished the paperwork in time to make the train.

 

We got to London on schedule and decided the best way to spend our limited time in the city was to hop on the Original London Bus tours (on double decker buses!). Before we did that though, there was the little matter of venturing to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. There was a free tour beginning near Trafalgar Square that would walk us over to the Palace and explain interesting bits of history along the way. For 30 minutes we searched for the "start" point of the tour and could never find it. Having given up on the free tour, we sought directions to the Palace from a local and headed over there ourselves.

Parliament
We got some great shots along the way at St James Palace as we waiting for the changing of the guard. I had specifically planned the trip to London on *this* day b/c it was the scheduled day for the change. Ten minutes before the change was to occur additional guards came round to the front of the palace and set up sandwich boards proclaiming the change was cancelled for today. Just like that! Bums. First black mark against the Brits in my book. So we wandered over to the Palace gift shop, picked up some items, and were on our way.

 

By lunchtime we were ready to eat some authentic English food. That meant fish and chips of course in our quick-to-stereotype-English-cuisine American minds. Dropped into a local pub, ordered fish and chips all around and quite enjoyed it. Except for the mushy peas; I like to masticate my own food thank you very much.

London Bridge (is falling down, falling down, falling down..)
Inflicting mushy peas on unsuspecting clientele: second black mark against the Brits.

 

After lunch we headed back to Trafalgar Square to catch a tour bus. Easy enough. The bus tour took us on a whirlwind trip around London. This day was really about quantity sightseeing more than quality as there was no time to stop at any of the sights or go in for tours if applicable. Still, we managed to see a good bit of historical and socially relevant sights in just 3 hours. And we must have crossed every bridge over the Thames river at least twice. My favorite site was Westminster Abby and the Parliament buildings. So beautiful! It was quite cold on the bus (especially since we wandered up to the top deck for a better view) as England was experiencing quite an arctic front.

The Royal Calvary at Buckingham Palace
Temp hovered right around 30 degrees all day.

 

Once the bus tour was over we wandered through Piccadilly Circus (circus means round) and found a red telephone booth that Tracy and I thought was perfect for trying to cram as many people from our group as possible into for silly photo taking purposes. However, the rest of our group was ready to move on so we never did get to exercise our right to be ridiculous.  Jacob remembered that Harrods's dept store was having an amazing sale and he wanted to go. Having seen everything I had wanted in London I thought it was only fair to let other members of our group have a vote. So off to the department store we went. It was a madhouse! I've never seen so many people in one store before. The checkout line must have been hours long.

Westminster Abby
I know the bathroom line was. :( 30 minute wait just to pee! No one bought anything at this "sale". I put it in quotes because does it really mean anything when they discount the $150 ladies pair of plain cotton underwear down to a mere $75? Who wears these panties?!

 

For dinner we decided to stick close to the train station (the famous Harry Potter train station btw!) so we'd easily catch our train. We wandered down a promising street just a few blocks from the station and saw an eye-catching Italian eatery. I know you might not believe me when I tell you what happened next but I have witnesses! We walked into the restaurant and asked for a table and when the manager/owner told us there was no seating I pointed to a table that had enough seating for the 5 of us around it and asked if it was reserved.

CLICK THIS PHOTO FOR CLOSEUP. heehee ok, so I am just a child...
He said no. Then, in clear English (he was British), he went on to say that we were too big to eat at his restaurant. Yes, you read right. Too big. He said that we wouldn't fit. (We clearly would; these were standard tables and chairs). This was black mark number three against the Brits for me! We left his eatery and spied another Italian place across the street and opened the door cautiously. We were greeted kindly and led to a table. A table the same size as the tables across the street mind you. The food was adequate, but as the restaurant was rather empty we assumed, probably correctly, that the food at the other restaurant was probably better. Oh well.

 

After dinner we caught the last train back to Paris, putting us back in the city just before midnight. A long day behind us, we metro'd back to our hotel and hit the beds, as we knew we were rendezvousing quite early in the morning to go to Versailles for the day.

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Jenni and Tracy with Guard at St J…
Jenni and Tracy with Guard at St …
Parliament
Parliament
Parliament
Parliament
London Bridge (is falling down, fa…
London Bridge (is falling down, f…
The Royal Calvary at Buckingham Pa…
The Royal Calvary at Buckingham P…
Westminster Abby
Westminster Abby
CLICK THIS PHOTO FOR CLOSEUP. heeh…
CLICK THIS PHOTO FOR CLOSEUP. hee…
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Clock that was given to Prince Cha…
Clock that was given to Prince Ch…
sculpture at Buckingham Palace
sculpture at Buckingham Palace
The London Eye- giant ferris wheel.
The London Eye- giant ferris wheel.
What is that giant sex toy looking…
What is that giant sex toy lookin…
Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus
Beautiful building meant to commem…
Beautiful building meant to comme…
Beautiful building but I cannot re…
Beautiful building but I cannot r…
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
The Royal Calvary at Buckingham Pa…
The Royal Calvary at Buckingham P…
sculpture at Buckingham Palace
sculpture at Buckingham Palace
Big Ben.
Big Ben.
Parliament (very pretty!)
Parliament (very pretty!)
Parliament
Parliament
Private gardens in an exclusive ne…
Private gardens in an exclusive n…
St Pauls cathedral
St Paul's cathedral
Guard at St James Palace.
Guard at St James Palace.
Jon with Guard at St James Palace.
Jon with Guard at St James Palace.
Gates at Buckingham Palace
Gates at Buckingham Palace
St Pauls Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral
London Bridge, as we were passing …
London Bridge, as we were passing…
Westminster Abby
Westminster Abby
Westminster Abby
Westminster Abby
Westminster Abby
Westminster Abby
London
photo by: ulysses