We had breakfast and then got on The Original Tour bus (red double-decker and we were on the top covered in) here at the hotel and spent a wonderful, amazing time touring around London. We bought the full meal deal from Russell Square past the British Museum (marvellous building) to Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column to Pall Mall to St. James Palace past the The Ritz down Piccadilly past the Hard Rock Café past Hyde Park and Speaker’s Corner and Tyburn and the Marble Arch. Deep breath…
We did go very close to Buckingham Palace on the bus but you really have to get off and walk a bit and then catch the next bus about 15 minutes later and continue on. And then Westminster Abbey and the tower of Big Ben (can you hear me singing?) and the amazing Houses of Parliament. Down to the Lambeth Bridge and back up to the Westminster Bridge and back to Trafalgar Square and along the Strand to Fleet Street (could hear those reporters scratching out a living) and then the wonderful St. Paul’s Cathedral with a statue of Queen Anne (MOI) in front.
The patter that went along with this part of the tour amazed me – Poor Queen Anne --- Left in the lurch; Face to the tavern; Back to the church. I didn’t get it exactly but may tomorrow when we head out again. The lady of the tour bus patter said Queen Anne drank excessively! Just think what that means for me for this year! My birthday party on February 6 at the Annapolis Royal Golf and Country Club could be fairly riotous!
We then went past The Monument which has a story about it and the Great Fire of London in 1666. Across London Bridge and along to Tower Bridge and past the Tower of London – an amazing fortress. By this time we getting a bit overloaded, I must say. We saw a Roman wall that been excavated and believed to have been built in 300-400 AD. Then across Southwark Bridge and we had a glimpse of The Globe Theatre reconstructed. Along then to Blackfriars Bridge and along the Victoria Embankment and back to Trafalgar Square.
And somewhere in there we passed the Air Force Church where the shrapnel marks on the walls have been left as a reminder of WWII. That quite took us back.
And the other place which stopped us both cold and brought tears to my eyes (literally) was the monument to the Animals in War - here's a link to information on this one, thanks to daughter Holly - www.animalsinwar.org.uk. I think there must be something online about it but it was so poignant. I’d like to know more about that one. Speaking of animals, it was wonderful to see the two mounted horses at the Horse Guards’ Parade.
We got off that bus and as it was about 3 pm, we looked for lunch. And ended up at The Slug and Lettuce, I kid you not. It was just great – food was super and the service was terrific. Got a little lost finding our bus stop but we actually asked and found it. Back here pretty tired but satisfied after a long day.
Bill says he was very impressed with all the well-established business whose names we knew and how tightly packed in they were in the commercial areas. I just loved the architecture – most of it. The variety of languages here is also noteworthy – there were languages from around the world. London has a huge number of parks and trees along the roads. Bill was very impressed by the driving skills required to get around the narrow streets.
I tried to send yesterday’s post in the lobby again but Windows insisted on doing a very long update. However, we ended up sitting with a really nice couple from Brussels who were trying to get to Miami to catch the Queen Victoria and go on a 3-month cruise from the Caribbean around to Fiji and Australia and then back up to Southampton. They were really nice and we had a good chat.
So here we are, Bill’s snoozing and I’m pounding away to hopefully get two posts done tomorrow morning before we hit London again. We’ll have to be a bit more selective. Although this trip has been primarily about celebrating Dad’s successful end to his war, I am delighted to be here and seeing so much that is familiar and new. The names are so familiar both from novels and history and they are re-used in our own country. The culture is where we came from – both of us. Bill even said if we were ever to come back, it would be at a different time of year and we’d go to Devon where our ancestors came from.