Thursday, May 31, 2012

London day 4

You'll notice I'm a day behind on my posts. Kiri is giving me grief that I can't keep up.

Day four was a walk-around and explore day. We got another late start at around 10am. I found the reason for this though. Keep in mind were so far north that it's stays daylight until 10pm. That, plus the nice weather makes you want to stay out late. Kiri and I aren't getting back to the hotel until 11 or 12. Also, as I explained before. We're on vacation.:) So we sat in the park and had our coffee and breakfast sandwich when most Londoners were starting lunch.

We headed down the river walk to Big Ben. We hadn't gotten our couple pose in front of it yet so we were going to go beg passer by's to take our picture.

This is the statue of Boadicea, that sits caddy corner from Big Ben. Kiri tells me it's pronounced "Boo-da-ca". Who knows if that's right but she's pretty smart so we'll roll with it.

Close up of Big Ben. We did get our couples shot, but it's on the other camera.

Next we walked around the Houses of Parliment to the Victoria Tower garden. Lots! of people out sunning themselves. Being from Arizona, you forget other regions don't see the sun much.

We walked across the street so I could snap a photo of these bikes. I'm seeing a lot of scooters with canopies. This one was a BMW C1.

We made our way back to Westminster Abbey for a tour. Thought this street looked cool on our way there.

Westminster Abbey didn't allow photography. But second only to St. Paul's cathedral this place is amazing. I got to see where Charles Darwin and Newton are buried! Two shots from outside.

The Abbey tour was pretty long. So we did my favorite thing to do in London. Visit a pub. It allows you to wet your whistle and plan your next thing to see. This one was called "The Red Lion".

Downing street was just down the block. You can't see the door from the street, but there is plenty of security.

Also nearby is the royal horse guards.

Would have thought these would have followed US phone booths and disappeared, but no, they're all over the place.

Next we headed west into St. James Park.

An amazing topiary in the shape of a crown. Not sure if this is always here or if it's for the Queens jubilee.

Looking down the mall, away from Buckingham Palace. They're getting ready for a party.

And this is the Queen Victoria Memorial. They've turned it into a stage and arena for the big party this Sunday.

The typical pictures of Buckingham Palace.

We walked down "Constitution Hill" road, which cuts through Green Park until we came to Wellington Arch.

We had one dark cloud pass over us and received our first downpour in London. Luckily it was a fast moving cell and it was over before it started.

Next we entered Hyde Park. This place is amazing!!

After kiri sat down in this chair a park attendant came over to her with a handheld card reader and charged her 1.5pounds for use of it. She paid, and at first your like it's a chair! That's not right. But then you figure the park has to make money somehow. There isn't an entrance fee. You'd be surprised at how many people use these chairs.

I walked over to "The Serpentine" lake and captured this mother with her baby swans. She was pulling up algae so they could reach it and feed.

Next we wandered down to the Princess Diana memorial fountain and Kiri dipped her feet in. She said it was mighty cold.

Soon afterword it started to sprinkle and we found a tree to hide under. Other people were doing the same.

The rain stopped but I had Kiri keep the umbrella out for effect.

And again at the Albert memorial on the south side of the park.

From here we headed due north and crossed the park through the middle. Half way through we saw a sign that read "Italian fountains" this way. So we headed towards it.

Turns out it was a Italian styled garden Prince Albert had built for Queen Victoria. Very beautiful!

It was around 6pm and we were getting hungry. So we popped across the street into a pub called "The Swan". We both ordered burgers.

With our bellies full we caught the subway back to the hotel. I don't think I've posted any subway pics yet. Kiri and I loooove subways. We purchased week long Oyster cards and we just go and come as we please.

After a quick clean up we went out for a night stroll along the river. The lights from Parliment look like they came right out of a storybook.

Until tomorrow.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

London day 3

Tuesday was one of two tour rides that we had signed up for when we purchased our plane tickets.

Today's tour was of Windsor Castle, the Roman baths in the city of Bath, and finally Stonehenge. After a quick coffee, we met our tour bus outside the hotel.

Our tour guide's name was Graham and as he gave us history on the cityscape around us I took a few pictures out the window.

I'm amazed at the number of bikes and scooters people commute on everyday here. They seem to be able to lane split legally. The guy in front was on a Ducati Diavel.

I believe this is the entrance to the Natural History Museum.

Sooo many churches, all of them georgeous on the inside.

I believe these were duplexes on the outskirts of London. Graham was telling us half a house, in this area, goes for upwards of 500,000 pounds or ~750,000 dollars.

These were some residences in the community surrounding Windsor.

After a short 30 minute ride we finally departed the bus and started making our way to the castle.

From the bus drop off site you climb some stairs and cross the causeway seen in the picture.

We passed a small train station and many, many outdoor mall shops before making it to the outer walls.

"Everyone to me! To me!"

Since this is the Queen's home we had to go through airport like security before making it inside the courtyard area.

Each person was given walking audio tour devices. Normally I'm not a fan, but these units worked out pretty well. Kiri didn't want the headphones so she held hers like a phone.

I took the headphones, keeping my hands free for photos.

The inner courtyard area had a garden.

The castle sits up on a hill and when you come up on the north side your presented with a nice view of the country side.

From here we entered the castle. Unfortunately no photography was allowed while inside. Let's just say that most of the rooms defy description and you'll need to visit them yourself. My personal favorite were the rooms decorated with weapons. They had rifles, swords, and pistols covering every square inch, usually in a crisscross fashion.

Upon exiting we could see the courtyard barred from visitors.

Kiri and I were running low on time, before having to return to the bus. So we quickly made our way to St. George's Chapel. Another location which didn't allow photography, but here are some outside shots. The inside is much prettier.

We made our way back to the bus, where we received our sack lunch. I'm glad we bought them ahead of time as we wouldn't have had time to buy anything before boarding.

From here we had about a two hour ride to the city of Bath. Kiri, and most everyone else took a nap. I stayed awake since I had paid for the views from the bus:). Pretty countryside.

The city of Bath is amazing! Every building is built with limestone blocks, giving the whole place a Victorian feel.

Graham said address number four had been where Jane Austin had lived.

A famous bridge in Bath, the name escapes me now.

We disembarked and entered the roman baths. To much history to cover from my phone. You just need to visit it.

We we're told to try the pasties. They're a pie crust with different fillings. The story goes that tin miners in the area would collect arsenic on their hands so their wife's would cook these so they could eat the main body and then discard the crust portion and not poison themselves. We purchased a normal version which was like eating beef stew in a pie. Mmmmm Mmmmmm!

Before getting back on the bus, another church right by the baths. They allowed photography.

Kiri and I made it back on the tour bus just in time. One of the couples were 15 minutes late and Graham decided we couldn't wait any longer. They were left behind:(

Next stop was Stonehenge! Kiri was really looking forward to it and it didn't disappoint. Graham mention this was the last year vehicles could drive right up to the location. Starting next year you'll have to take a small tram to give the place a feeling of solitude.

Waiting in line to see it.

I really enjoyed this site!! It was very quiet and peaceful. The weather was perfect. I don't think we could have asked for more.

Overall a great tour! Our next one is on Friday. We're looking forward to it.

Until tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone