Hard to believe it’s almost time to leave London. I’m glad we came. I have a much better impression of England now than when I was here for a few days on my honeymoon – a couple days before and after Ireland. I was exhausted when I was here in 1998 – I couldn’t seem to recover from jet lag – and I had never traveled outside the US, except for Canada. I remember not being impressed with the food or people in 1998 and, despite the heat and crowd, just wanting to lie down on the ground at the Tower of London and go to sleep. But this time we’ve encountered so many friendly people and eaten tasty food, and I didn’t have to recover from jet lag. All in all, a great experience.
In addition to more London sightseeing, we saw a Shakespeare comedy, Love’s Labors Lost, in Stratford-upon-Avon; Laurel took a train to Cardiff, Wales, for a day trip; we took a train to Edinburgh, Scotland and spent two nights and then did more sightseeing when we came back to London. We fly to Dublin tomorrow/Sunday night where we’ll stay for a month before returning to the US.
Below: The British Museum, including the Rosetta Stone
Below: Hammersmith Bridge near our apartment. There aren’t many bridges across the Thames once you get outside the city center/Tower Bridge area. The next bridge after Hammersmith is two miles away.
Below: St. James’s Park near Buckingham Palace is one of many beautiful parks in London. Visitors seem mesmerized by the squirrels there, but we’re not sure why. Crowds gather and take photos and videos of the squirrels, feed them, and laugh at everything they do.
Below: A memorial to the Canadian soldiers who died in battle during WWII.
Below: Green Park – Every great city needs an arch with a Roman statue on top, I guess.
Below: Buckingham Palace’s Changing of the Guard, at 11 am every other day, is not for the faint of heart. Thousands gather by the palace fence, across the street in the traffic-circle statue area, and across the street in the park. There’s a lot of jostling for position which I’m apparently not good at because we hardly saw anything. It’s a long ceremony – 45 minutes or 75 minutes depending on what you consider part of the ceremony – that includes several different mini-parades down adjacent streets with knight-looking people, the guards, carriages; as well as all kinds of marching around and marching-band playing inside the palace grounds. It’s kind of goofy how much ceremony there is, but I guess it would be pretty disappointing if all those people came for a five-minute changeover.
Below: Abbey Road recording studio and nearby crosswalk (from the album cover). It’s a busy street; plus a lot of tourists want to take their pictures in the crosswalk. So I just took the kids’ photo from the back as we ran across – not quite the Beatles’ pose we had planned.
Below: Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Park (site of the 2012 summer games) is just off the new Jubilee Underground line (to celebrate the queen’s jubilee anniversary on the throne).
Below: At QE II Park there were statues of double-decker buses (We’d taken a real one earlier in the day.) that local artists had decorated in a variety of ways.
Below: Stratford-upon-Avon – We thought we would be taking a 2-hour train each way from London. Instead we took a train (We had to take two Underground trains to get to the long-distance train. I had not anticipated a 10-minute wait on the first train, and we nearly missed the long-distance train. I sprinted to the platform, and Laurel talked about my “majestic gait” for the next couple days. “I can’t even imitate it,” she said. 🙂 ), a bus, and a van there and a train, bus and train back to London. A portion of the railroad track was not usable because of a “landslip” a few weeks prior. There was a farmers market in the Stratford town square where we bought lunch – a bottle of pear-ginger juice, pork sandwiches, and fudge. A woman walking by the kids and me laughed at our drinking wine straight out of the bottle and passing it around; the juice was in a green, wine-looking bottle. I laughed and said we needed a brown, paper bag to cover it. Hopefully she knew it was juice. As for Love’s Labors Lost, the set was great; they pulled back most of the stage to reveal a different scene underneath when necessary and vice versa. The acting and costumes were “brilliant,” as everyone says here. The play…meh. Laurel and I much preferred A Midsummer Night’s Dream that we saw in Vancouver last year. It was all Charlie could do to sit still. He had no opinion about either play.
Below: Laurel took two Underground trains and a two-hour overground train to Cardiff, Wales Monday. After the transit experience to and from Stratford and knowing that we would be going on a four-plus-hour train to Edinburgh on Tuesday, I didn’t have a huge desire to sit on a train for more time than necessary; so Laurel went on her own. She likes the new version of Doctor Who and had intended to see the Doctor Who Museum in Cardiff where at least some of the episodes are filmed. However, she discovered while there that the museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. 😦 She was still able to see Cardiff Castle and some other Doctor Who-related stuff though. Also, Welsh is a weird language.
Allrighty. I should have made this multiple blog posts. I forgot how much we’ve done. In addition to everything on here, Laurel & Charlie went with a Tumblr friend, Amy, who was visiting from Norfolk, England to the Science Museum and the Tate Modern Museum in London. I don’t think Laurel took any pictures though (and I didn’t go with them), so nothing on here from those trips.
Tuesday through Thursday of this week we were in Edinburgh, Scotland which is very pretty. We climbed up Arthur’s Seat…kind of. It’s a big rock on top of a hill. We couldn’t find the path up there at first and took some pics from a lower path. Then we found a place near, but not quite on the rock itself. Anyway, it’s a lovely view and good exercise…muddy though. We went near but not in Edinburgh Castle and walked around town where we saw and listened to a bagpiper, met an American young woman working at a secondhand bookstore (She’s working on her Masters in “Book History” at the University of Edinburgh.), ate haggis and a variety of other local treats at area pubs, and bought (for me) pink plaid tights. I put them on with a brown skirt yesterday, and Laurel said – after cracking up – “It’s kind of a six-year-old, first-day-of-school aesthetic.” Maybe I’ll buy a different skirt to wear with them.
Today we went to Westminster Abbey where photography is not permitted inside – even though it cost 40 pounds/$60 admission for the three of us.