Sunday, July 11, 2010

On Seeing London

So I have failed on getting things up quickly but I promise that I haven't forgotten! Lots on the brain tonight so I'll start the part on London.  London began with meeting my roommate: Carlyn.  And our room which was tiny for us but huge compared to some of the others.

And had a tiny center console from ages ago:

The buttons in the center controlled my lamp, her lamp, the tv and the outlets.  It took us FOREVER to figure them all out as there were no labels or instructions! LOL  After a quick refresher from the trip over, we met our whole group in the lobby.  After officially meeting everyone and hearing some basic guidelines from our tour director, we set off to our included dinner at The Swan.

After our dinner of fish and chips Mary Agnes, Codi and I set out to explore Hyde Park.  It was gorgeous! Filled with huge fields that were covered even late in the evening!  There were fountains and private cottages. It was breath taking and interesting to see the different groups of people in the park.

Codi, Myself, Mary Agnes

After exploring the park, we began to find our way back to the hotel.  On our way back, we ran into a telephone booth.  This led the the traditional picture (of course)!

After making back to the hotel, I fell asleep for the next 12 hours.  Waking revitalized and ready for our walking tour of London, I was super excited!  Our tour guide lead us through two parks: Hyde and Green to Buckingham Palace. We saw expansive fields and gorgeous flowers!

Then we saw the Wellington Arch.

Myself, Carlyn, Amy, Moriah, Laura, and Kelly in front of the arch

Myself and Carlyn

After walking through the parks we came to it: BUCKINGHAM PALACE!  Though it was not as massive as I had imagined it, just being surround by history was amazing!

Even the statue across the street was impressive! London has lots of statues for just about every country and every person our guide said and though he was probably exaggerating, we did see plenty of them!

Our guide timed it just right for us to see the changing of the mounted guards, which was interesting.

And then we followed the band back to the palace.

Then we went through St. James Park to get to Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Parliament.

Kelly and Myself

Carlyn and Big Ben

After this journey, we took the subway to see the heart and oldest part of London.

Matt, Codi, and Mary Agnes
Our first experience with "Mind the Gap" - we heard it plenty over the next day!

First look at the Tower of London! First began to be built in the 1100's.

Myself and the Tower Bridge

This was where our tour ended and we were free to go our own ways.  I chose to go eat!

Mary Agnes, Codi, Matt, and Myself at The Tower Diner

After eating (which by the way, the do not split checks, tabs, there! So keep plenty of cash and change with you) we decided to go ahead and tour the Tower of London and see the Crown Jewels.

Mary Agnes, Matt, Codi and Myself in the Tower of London - in front of the City Hall

The partly original Middle Tower

The Bell Tower - built 1190

The tradition of the guard and the London Guard/Beefeater changing the tower password.
They don't really have a password anymore and the Beefeater was making the guard crack up and he was trying so hard not to laugh! :)

While we were there, they had a special exhibition set up that showed armor from over 500 years!  It included past king's armor and incredible looking weaponry.  The exhibition titled "Fit for a King" was very interesting to see.

How can one go to London and not have a picture with a Beefeater? I'm not sure so I made a huge effort to get mine!

Then we got to see the Tower Bridge up close!

After this impressive bridge, we walked down a few blocks and saw the London Bridge! Though it's not the original one (it's in Arizona) it was still cool!

Can you see the words?! :) They are there! On the right of the base before the green mold.

We decided to buy tickets to go up in the London Eye and to see the London Dungeon tour (if you buy them together they are discounted).  We ate before going up in the Eye and it was super cool! It's the world's largest wheel (I think I have that right) and takes 30 minutes to go all the way around! We were on the last round and went up at dusk and came down at night.  When we got off we were FREEZING!

Waiting in line - which wasn't that long at all! Thank goodness for waiting!

Myself and Big Ben - looking rough after a long and hot day!

The London Skyline

More skyline

The capsule outside! It's just a clear pill looking gondola.

Big Ben


The next morning we awoke and went to find Abbey Road. And find it we did! :)

In front of where they recorded!

Matt and I walking across the crosswalk!

After Abbey Road, we decided to go ahead and use our London Dungeon tickets.  It is one of those interactive tour attractions that you walk through and seeing as I'm not a huge fan of the scare factor, it was quite interesting for me to walk through. The best part was the end where they actually had a drop ride that took our picture right after it dropped.  It was very funny!

We had lunch and then headed to The National Gallery.  The gallery had beautiful fountains out front and even had an interesting tribute.  See pictures below.  The gallery houses over 2,300 paintings from 8 centuries and hundreds of different artists.  We only browsed through the most current paintings as one could spend all day in there and still not see everything!

The four of us in front of the National Gallery (can you see us?)

After getting our fill of paintings, we headed to see Parliament up close.

After walking around and just seeing this governmental part of London, we hung out in St. James Park and enjoyed the sunshine.  For our last dinner in London, we ate at Garfunkel's.  That evening, we put our walking shoes back on and went to King's Cross. And guess what we found?! That's right! Platform 9 3/4! :)

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