London: Day Two
Today, I woke up early for breakfast (early to me is 8:00), and then we all set out for a tour of the city. Jackie, our tour guide, loaded us all onto a mini-bus, which was nice because London is freezing. We saw the usual must-see places in the city, like Big Ben (beautiful, but not as big as I had anticipated), the Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge (often mistaken as the London Bridge), and the London Eye. The Palace is gorgeous and it’s right in the middle of the city. You can walk right up to the gate, so it’s a lot different from the White House. I discovered that the Queen doesn’t have any political power at all. She’s more of a symbol of English royalty. She’s also only one or two years from beating the record of the longest ruling queen.
The Palace! See the guards?
One of the gates. All of the decorations mean something (Jackie told us the meanings, but I forgot…), and there are little crowns on all the lanterns.
The square next to the palace
Big Ben and the London Eye in the distances. I didn’t know that the clock is connected to the House of Parliament. On postcards, normally all I see is Big Ben itself. It chimed while we were there, and it was really pretty. I didn’t get to go on the Eye, but Jackie told us it rotates in about 35 minutes and is the second largest ferris wheel in the world.
Tower Bridge coming out of my head
Jackie also took us to a couple memorials, lots of churches, and showed us how to get around the city. We went to one or two squares I’ve since forgotten the names of, and I only remember Trafalgar Square because our group eventually got lost trying to get to it.
Statue of Prince (King?) Albert in one of the parks in Chelsea. He was married to Queen Victoria, and the public adored him. He died when he was 45, but he had NINE children with the Queen.
I don’t remember the exact name for this, but I know that it’s a concert hall dedicated to Albert
The church Princess Kate and Prince William came out of after their wedding
The other side of the church
UN headquarters in London
The Tower of London, next to Tower Bridge. The Crowned Jewels are held here, so keep that in mind if you’re ever low on cash.
After our tour, we were pretty much on our own. We all had maps, but the layout is a lot different in the US. There isn’t a grid system because the roads are all in little triangles, and the the street names aren’t clearly marked. After a getting lost a couple times, we made it to the British Museum, which is HUGE. My favorite exhibit was the African one because it had contemporary African art, and I’ve never seen much of that before.
The Rosetta Stone!!
This is a statue made entirely of weapons. In some African villages, the people are encouraged to trade their guns and knives for things like food and farming equipment, and the weapons received are usually made into art.
After the museum, we HAD to see Platform 9 and 3/4. It’s a Harry Potter fan must when in London. We got on the The Tube, the New York equivalent of the Metro, and went to King’s Cross. I was a little disappointed because the platform isn’t on a pillar, like in the movie. It’s just on a wall before you go down to the trains. I guess it would tick people off if they had to pay to go to it, and it would be too crowded to put it near the trains, but I pouted a little nonetheless. While we were all laughing and taking pictures of the Harry Potter memorabilia, a group of Tibetan monks arrived at the station. They looked us like we were crazy for getting so incredibly excited about this little cart thing sticking out of the wall. Ah well, c’est la vie. They have Buddha, we have Harry Potter.
After we left King’s Cross station, we tried to get over to the Globe Theater because a couple of the girls were Shakespeare fanatics, but we ended up missing the tour by 30 minutes. I got this neat picture from a postcard there, though:
Looks legit, huh?
To get back to the hotel, we had to cross Millennium Bridge, which is a bridge entirely dedicated to pedestrians. It’s sometimes called the Wibbly Wobbley bridge because it wobbled when it was first built. Made me kind of nervous since bridges freak me out to begin with, but the view of the city at night was definitely worth it. I wish my eyes could take pictures because the photos don’t even come close to capturing how pretty it was.
Millennium Bridge, and some strangers who have no idea they’re on my computer. Apparently, London is where people are most photographed. Jackie said a person in London could have his picture taken up to 3,000 times a day without knowing it!
Sadly, I had to get to sleep pretty early because we had to leave for our flight to FRANCE at 4:30 in the morning. London was wonderful and I’d like to visit again, but I couldn’t wait to get to Grenoble the next day.