Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 2 - London Calling!

Thursday, July 18, Train to London 
This was a full day, worth every penny (pence!) and ounce of energy it took! Buckle your seat belts for the train, Tube, bus and ferry!
The train station at Wadhurst, not far from Jeannie's. It was nice to be on vacation, watching folks zoom into the station and run for their train. We, on the other hand, had a leisurely coffee and au pain chocolat for our hour's ride into the city!
I don't quite think this was the train's path ;) but it shows our proximity to London. The train was a very nice ride, and the CUTEST little boys rode most of the way with us. (I would like my grandsons to be polite little fellows with an English accent, please) Ok, everyone off the train; we're at Charing Cross!
A tiny snapshot of a huge station. Let's roll!
The London Pass got us into (pretty much) as many places as we could fit in a 24 hour period, along with any mode of transport we chose, other than the train. You know we're going to make sure we get our money's worth, right?!
First stop, Trafalgar Square! It was hot already, and it was only about 10 am. Actually, this was stop #2; first I ran into a Phone Warehouse and switched out the SIM card in my phone for a "English" one, that gave me unlimited internet while we were there. Best £15 ($23) I ever spent. Thanks for the tip, Bob!
Let's go watch the Changing (of) the Guard!

The Admiralty Arch Gates, at the eastern end of the Mall (pronounced mal, like pal). We're headed straight to the other end, which is exactly .5 mi.
Pretty sure this is Changing of the Horse Guard. (I know, duh, but I don't know for sure) It started around 11, and they continued on to Horse Guards Arch, so I'm thinkin' that was it! There's a lot to know here!

St. James Park, on the south side of the Mall. Lindsay pointed out that if our parks offered free seating like this, those seats probably wouldn't last long :(

 After the horses passed us, we walked west toward the Palace, with about 1.2 million other visitors.
All those tents are the media, camped out and waiting for the announcement of the new Prince (turns out it wasn't just for my 50th birthday).
 The Guards Band ushers in some of the New Guard...
 It was madness! Anyway, this is right where I was interviewed by BBC! Yeah, yeah, 'new baby, are we visiting?', blah blah. Apparently it was embarrassing for me to talk about my birthday, but wouldn't YOU?! Jack said, "She was trying to get you to talk about the baby!" I DID talk about the baby, and how great it would be if he was born on my birthday! Then I said something about helping deliver the baby and having tea with the Queen (no, seriously), and even embarrassed myself. (a little ;)

Then we started a longgg day of walking. We inadvertently walked by Westminster Cathedral, where graduation for St. Mary's University College had just let out! How cool is that?!

Westminster Abbey was #1 on the list, but it's hard to fully enjoy when you're "on the run". Linds was creeped out by too many dead bodies in the Cathedral (over 3,000). Not me! My favorite area is Poet's Corner. I behaved myself this time and didn't snap an illicit shot like last time!
Time to catch the Tube to St. Paul's Cathedral!

Walking towards the Cathedral is hugely impressive. Enough so that I didn't watch my step, and took my first (yes, first) fall of the trip. It was here I found that the English have a wicked sense of humor; Bev laughed about it for two days. Actually, so did everyone else. And Martha, where was your kind husband when I needed him?! He didn't laugh when I fell in Ireland! (Did he?!)
Time to catch the bus to the Tower of London!
Traitor's Gate; the gateway into a fortress, a royal palace and a prison!

Two Yeomen Warder "bodyguards", by the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula, the parish church of the Tower, where Anne Boleyn is buried. (she supposedly haunts it!)
Jewel House, where the Crown Jewels have been kept since 1303, after they were stolen from Westminster Abbey. (this picture reminds me of a scene from Shrek...) And, funny enough, Jack and I watched Jack the Giant Slayer this weekend, and the story ends inside by St. Edward's Crown, where two weeks ago we watched a guard make a lady delete photos from her camera! Sheesh, lady, the sign says "No photography"! (let's forget about that pic I took in Poet's Corner...) 
Now we're boarding a ferry to take us down the Thames!

Sure glad I wasn't Anne Boleyn. Or Catherine Howard. Or Lady Jane Grey. Or...
Anyway, next stop is Westminster Pier. Ok, what's our next mode of transport?!

Back to foot-power! The sun may be setting, but we're not done yet!
 A quick walk through Soho. I wondered why there were so many officers here; Lindsay reminded me that there were about 127 bars and 236 "massage parlors" in this neighborhood. Oh. Gotcha.
Let's get some dinner, I'm starving!
Our goal all day was to end with dinner in Covent Garden. Apparently it was everyone else's idea too. It was jam-packed with hungry locals and tourists, so when we finally got to sit down and eat, it was a real treat! Some French wine, a little pizza...heaven!
Sadly, the day must end. We're taking the Tube back to Charing Cross for dessert and the train home!

We found Café Rouge right near the station, and would stop at another one later in the trip. THIS was my dessert: cheese, chutney, cheese, gorgeous port wine, cheese and bread. Last time...happy birthday to me!
Tomorrow we're sleeping in!
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