Friday, August 19, 2011

London: Day 2

Get ready, because day two was jam packed! This is a long one, people. Day Two was our Royal London day! I had been waiting for this day ever since April 29th when I got up at 1:30 AM to watch the Royal wedding. I love all things Royal and thus, all things London. We learned that Londoners are very proud of the Monarchy. Very proud. It is pretty cool though, just because there is so much history. I mean some of the buildings date back over 1,000 years! So crazy.



We saved some money by going with the continental breakfast in our hotel which consisted of toast, cereal and really good (and really strong) coffee. From there, we went straight to Westminster Abbey. We took the tube and got out of the station right at the base of Big Ben. It was pretty amazing to walk out of the Underground and stare up at Big Ben. That clock is huge! And apparently it's ridiculously accurate. Like to the quarter second accurate. We had perfect timing and got to hear it chime at 9 AM. Pretty darn cool.


On to Westminster! We waited in line for a bit and then had to pay to get in. We realized that London is like Disneyland for adults except it's three times as huge and three times as expensive. Totally worth it though. Westminster had a great free audio guide, so we took our time walking through and listening to the history on all the memorials. The church is so tall and packed full of memorials to important people of history. Lots of previous kings and queens, dukes and duchesses, religious figures, and Poet's Corner with tons of literary figures like Chaucer, Tennyson, Browning and Dickens.



We both loved Westminster. And of course, I especially loved being able to stand right where Princess Catherine walked down the aisle! I loved the checker board floor and we both really liked the Lady Chapel where they have memorials for Queen Mary of Scots, Queen Mary I and Queen Elisabeth I.

We couldn't take any pictures inside, but our strategy was to take a few as we walked out - just in case they decided to throw us out. :)



From there, we wanted to go see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. We started walking that way and happened to come across the Changing of the Horse Guard, which in my opinion was actually better than the regular version (and a lot less crowded - I could actually see it!).





The Horse Guard made their way down the Mall to Buckingham Palace so we followed them there. Which meant that we were a little late to scope out a spot for the regular Changing of the Guard. So. Many. People. We fought made our way to the third row behind the gate, but I still couldn't see anything. Luckily I have a very tall husband. :)



I was able to get a few glimpses of what was going on behind the gate, and what I could see was the guards wearing Leopard print and the band playing Ricky Martin and Eric Clapton. Ricky Martin? Really? Maybe the Queen likes him. The whole thing wasn't really what I expected, although I'm not sure what I even expected. But, now we can check that one off the list. After the show was over and people cleared out, we were taking pictures and noticed this lady walking around behind the gate.


Recognize her? It's Joan Rivers! This was the second celebrity we had seen on the trip (we saw the Fonz at the Detroit airport on the way to London)! There's no mistaking that it was her... I think you know what I mean.



We hung out at Buckingham Palace around the Victoria Monument for a while and then went to the Queen's Gallery. It had lots of art and paintings of past Kings and Dutch landscapes as well as a free audio guide that was pretty good. I refrained from buying out the entire gift shop of William and Catherine tea towels and fine china. So tempting, but I just left with a little magnet.


We grabbed paninis at a little Italian deli and went to Hyde Park to sit and enjoy the great outdoors. We walked around the park and saw the Princess Diana Memorial and then made our way to Kensington Palace.








I was especially excited for Kensington Palace, but was disappointed because they were doing renovations and only had one part of it open, which they made in to this weird, ultra modern, kinda creepy "Enchanted Palace" exhibit. I didn't like it at all, but I guess the one up side was we kind of got to see what the inside of the Palace looked like even though the lights were heavily dimmed.

Next, was the Prince Albert Memorial which I expected to be a decent sized statue of Prince Albert. But no. Queen Victoria must have really loved that guy because the memorial was huge! I'm talking like several stories high and very gaudy and decked out in gold gilt and intricate details. I told Zach not to expect the same. Although we all know I would build him a memorial in a second if I had a money tree in the backyard. :) Love you babes.





We killed some time before it we were back on the Tube headed to King's Cross Station to meet my good friend Nicole for dinner (she's currently working in London!). It was so good to see her! I'm super bummed/mad at myself that we didn't even get a picture together. Lame. She took us to this London chain restaurant called Nando's and it was good. We had chicken, corn on the cob and fries.

Then she took us back to her fancy schmancy hotel that is connected to St. Pancras

At the train station, we saw the huge statue of a couple saying farewell. So naturally, we re-enacted it. Haha. Then we got some gelato (Fragola for me, Stracciatella for the Hubs) and headed back to our ultra tiny room.





And that was Day Two! Congratulations to those of you that made it through the entire thing!

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