Kings Cross Station
Platform 9 3/4
The British Library
Statue at the British Library
The British Museum
The Reading Room – The British Museum
Elgin Marbles 1
Elgin Marbles 2
The London Eye 1
The London Eye 2
Parliament and Big Ben
Group Farewell Dinner
Union Jack over Parliament
Our final day in London began with a trip through Kings Cross Station (to see the 9 3/4 Platform to Hogwarts) on our way to The British Library. There is a permanent exhibit of amazing printed documents in all areas of interest from music to politics to religious works.
We then went to The British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles (from the Parthenon in Athens) and a number of Egyptian items.
We took a ride on the London Eye with amazing views of the city including Parliament and Big Ben,then headed off to our Farewell Dinner at the Ebury Wine Bar. We traveled with a great group of people, sharing our interests and experiences along the way. Our guide was witty, knowledgable and wonderfully caring and inclusive. We loved our trip to London and look forward to visiting again.
Main Gate – Windsor Castle
Queen Victoria Statue – Windsor
Changing of the Guard – Windsor Castle
Royal Lamppost – WIndsor Castle
The Queen’s Standard
Windsor Castle 2
Chesterfield Hotel Tea Room
We visited Windsor Castle on a rainy day. While the weather did not cooperate for all of the pictures I would have liked to have made, we still enjoyed touring the castle grounds, viewing the State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel. Windsor Castle is nestled in a small village with many pubs and shops, but the castle complex is a city unto itself. The Queen was in residence as evidenced by her standard flying above the castle. The ancient castle’s interiors rival Versailles with golden decorations and ancient tapestries, but it a living, working building.
After we returned to London, we decided it was a perfect day for a hot cup of tea. We had a traditional English Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Hotel complete with sandwiches, scones, sweets and a perfect cup of tea.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral Dome
Beefeater Sheep Statue
Tower – Private Residence
Kew Gardens – Lake
Water Lilies 2
We took a walking tour of the small area known as the City of London. We toured St. Paul’s Cathedral. While we were not allowed to take pictures inside, the exterior of the cathedral was impressive.
There was an exhibition of sheep statues all over London decorated like British characters that were whimsical and colorful. The ancient and modern stand side-by-side in London. The small tower in the middle of the business district is a relic of days gone by and is now a private residence. We also learned about the political structure of the City of London and the seat of government for the area – Guild Hall.
In the afternoon, we took a trip out to Kew Gardens. In a small village outside London, Kew Gardens is a huge area with many different types of gardens and hot houses. It was truly beautiful and a welcome change from the fast paced life in London.
The Tower of London
Beefeater explaining Opening Ceremony at The Tower
Opening Ceremony – The Tower – with Gurka Guard from Nepal
Traitors Gate – The Tower
The Tower – Home of the Crown Jewels
Execution Site at The Tower
Kings Bedchamber – White Tower – The Tower
King’s Private Chapel – White Tower – The Tower
Throne Room – White Tower – The Tower
Battlements at The Tower
Cleopatra’s Needle beside the Thames River
Ben Ben and Parliament from the Thames
Lord Nelson Staircase – Sommerset House
Guiding at Somerset House
Our day of touring began early. We had a lovely view of Tower Bridge and were then ushered into the Tower of London to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Tower with a Beefeater for our guide. The guards on duty for the day were a group of Gurka soldiers from Nepal. We stood beside Traitor’s Gate where prisoners were brought into the Tower for incarceration via boat. The Tower is a large complex that began in the middle ages as a palace for the king. It houses the Crown Jewels and many other royal items. From The Tower, we traveled by boat up the Thames to Westminster Abbey. We saw the graves of many ancient royalty plus Chaucer, Handel, Dickens, and Darwin. The interior of the Abbey is truly beautiful and not to be missed on a trip to London. We finished our day with a traditional Indian meal and a walk through Somerset House with a view of the Lord Nelson staircase.
Washington Mayfair Hotel
Royal Vintner’s Shop
Proof of Texas Consulate
Royal Horses in Training
Band Escort for Changing of the Guard
Band Escort for Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guards – Buckingham
Royal Mounted Guard
Royal Mounted Guard
Our Guide Celebrates the Royal Birth
Gate near Buckingham Palace
St. James Park
Churchill War Rooms-Entrance
Photograph of Churchill
Radio Operator in Churchill War Rooms
Communications in Churchill War Rooms
Our tour of London began at the Washington Mayfair Hotel – our home base during our stay. We visited Covent Garden where we enjoyed a traditional roast dinner for our first group meal. The meal was delicious and the company delightful. Our first official tour day began with a walk toward St. James Palace. We stopped on the street to view Spencer House, the place Chopin lived in London and Her Majesty’s Vintner shop. We saw a plaque regarding the representation of the “Republic of Texas” as a separate country.
We walked through Green Park toward Buckingham Palace and witnessed several teams of horses training for their duties as well as the changing of the guard processional from St. James Palace to Buckingham Palace with band escort. We also witnessed some of the mounted guard riding up “The Mile.” Buckingham Palace is truly grand. Our guide Tom was sure to encourage us to celebrate the birth of the new Royal Princess with a tin of cookies.
We finished our first day with a visit to the Churchill War Rooms where Churchill directed the war effort during WWII. The War Rooms were created far underground to protect government officials during the Blitz.
English Countryside from Plane
Holy Trinity Church on the Avon River
Holy Trinity Church
Entrance to Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church
Graveyard at Holy Trinity Church
Dr. John Hall House-Stratford
Birthplace of Shakespeare
Les Miserables Marquee
Ceiling of Queen Theater
Nightlife in London
Our adventure in London began with an overnight flight from Atlanta to London. Flying in over the English countryside was a beautiful sight with the rolling green hills and colorful farmland.
We adjusted to the new time zone and then headed off to Stratford-upon-Avon for our Shakespeare pilgrimage. We took a train from Marylebone Station and found the train service as excellent and timely as we had heard. There were numerous little stations along the way with beautiful villages and grazing land for sheep and cattle. Ancient churches stood along more modern apartments and shops reminding us of the long history of this area. Arriving in Stratford, we joined a local walking tour and were able to experience the sights with historical information and hilarious stories of life in 16th century England. The Avon River is truly tranquil and beautiful with its famous swans gracing the waters. Holy Trinity Church has stood on its present site since 713 A.D. Started as a Saxon monastery and then converted to the local church in 1210 A.D., it was the center of town life for centuries. The beautiful church has wonderful stonework and a weeping chancellory that bends off of the knave of the church symbolizing the head of Christ on the cross bending to one side. Shakespeare’s birth and death are listed in its records and his tomb is in the chancellory. His tomb carries its own curse warning against digging up his bones, a common practice in olden times so that the space in the church could be sold again for another burial. The bust of Shakespeare above his grave was placed in the church only seven years after his death and is believed to be a good likeness. The churchyard houses a beautiful and ancient graveyard. The town of Stratford has many historical houses of the Shakespeare family. Wisteria covers the house of Dr. John Hall, husband of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna. The simple house that was the birthplace of William Shakespeare also housed his father’s glove making shop.
After taking tea in Stratford, we boarded the train back to London in time to attend “Les Miserables” at the Queen’s Theater. The theater was wonderful with ornate golden carvings and a beautiful ceiling. The musical was fabulous with live music in the pit. Our evening ended with a bicycle rickshaw ride through the theater district experiencing the sights and sound of nightlife in London.
We are so excited to head out on a new adventure. Traveling light, as evidenced by the luggage in the picture, we are off to London and Paris. Keep checking this blog for pictures and stories of our trip.