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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

London Part 2

Our day started at St. Paul's Cathedral (London Pass).  St. Paul's iconic dome is one of the most recognizable sights on the London skyline.  Historical and beautiful... and no photography inside.  We had the opportunity to climb up to the top of the Dome - I made it most of the way and The Mr climbed all the way to the top.  You nay have seen some events televised there, possibly this one.

After we left St. Paul's, we headed to Shakespeare's Globe Theater (London Pass) for a backstage tour.  Very fun!  They rebuilt the Globe near the site of the original, using materials and workmanship from the period.  They even got special permits to have a thatched roof, something very difficult to obtain as the London fire in 1666 has colored a lot of the building codes.

Passing by Knight Rider Street, we left the Globe and had lunch at Pizza Express overlooking the Thames and then crossed the Millenium Bridge (you may recognize it from the  6th Harry Potter movie) to get to The London Bridge Experience (London Pass).  In this case, "experience" translates to "haunted house" or more properly, "haunted bridge-like space".  As haunted spaces(?) go, this was a good one!

Tours of the Churchill War Rooms (London Pass) and the HMS Belfast (London Pass) were next.  Both very interesting - I enjoyed seeing a different perpective on international events.  Once we were done there, we dashed off to Parliament - where we saw sessions of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords!  Thtat was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

We headed back to Notting Hill to catch a wonderful dinner at Santorini Taverna, a Greek restaurant near our hotel with fabulous food, great atmosphere and fantastic service.  We liked it so much, we ate there three more times during our visit!

St. Paul's Cathedral

The Mr and the St. Paul's pigeons

To give you an indication of the scale,
that's me at the bottom of the picture


In front of St. Paul's

You can see the beautiful dome of St. Paul's here

Knight Rider Street - "Kit come here - I need you!"

Inside Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The stage at the Globe Theatre

The Globe Theatre, built like it was in Shakespeare's day

Millenium Bridge

Millenium Bridge

Gas mask issued during WWII

The Union Jack flies on the HMS Belfast

Inside Parliament - under construction

Original ceilings of the Parliament building, being renovated

The next day started with the Tower of London.  Another amazing historical place.  I remember touring here when I lived here before thinking how Roman soldiers had walked on these same steps.  Really gives one a perspective on history that you cannot get in the US.  Besides being a fortress, the Tower was a prison, a site of many famous executions, a home for many Kings and Queens, the Tower now houses the Crown Jewels and is home to the the Queen's Guards who are called Beefeaters.

We toured the Tower Bridge next, and learned about the history of the bridge and how it was engineered.  We didn't get to see the drawbridge lift, but we did get to go to the top of the bridge and walk across up there.  Another stop on our tour of Europe's highest places.  ;-)

We went to All Hallows by the Tower Church after the Tower exhibits.  All Hallows is the oldest church in the city of London.  William Penn was baptized there and John Quincy Adams was married there.  In the crypt of the church there is the remains of an old Roman road, dating back to the second century.

After All Hallows, we took a river boat cruise on the Thames (London Pass) and then took some great pictures of Westminster Abbey at night.  Then it was time for a late dinner at "our" restaurant, Santorini's.

Traitor's gate at the Tower of London

Tower of London, White Tower

Remains of the original Roman wall at the Tower

One of the Tower's resident Ravens

The Book of Armaments

The Tower Bridge, from the London Bridge

Roman road at All Hallows Church

All Hallows Church

All Hallows Church

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

London night skyline

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Our 6th day in London started at Madame Tussaud's wax museum.  Their figures are amazingly lifelike, but I wouldn't recommend going.  It's fairly expensive, and the patrons tend not to be very polite.  Top that off with rude staff and you can't expect a wonderful experience.  We did get our picture taken with The Queen.  Or her likeness anyway.

The Temple Church was next on our agenda. The Church was built by the Knights Templar, the order of crusading monks founded to protect pilgrims on their way to and from Jerusalem in the 12th century.  And the Church houses a number of effigies of the Templar Knights.

Lunch (at McDonanlds - one of the few places that had free wifi so we could connect to the world) and then it was time to meet up with my sister!  She joined us for the last few days in London after which we would all travel to Ethiopia together.

My sister was tired, as expected, but we took her on a brief tour of Kensington Park, saw Princess Diana's playground, and had fun with photography and art in the park.  We also went to Harrods and had some (very expensive) wonderfully tasty hot chocolate.  And then we showed her our favorite dinner spot.  We were regulars!

The Mr and Isaac Newton

Here we are with the Queen and Prince Phillip...

Hasta la vista?

Harry Potter?

Effigy at the Temple Church

Inside the Temple Church

One of the many gargoyles inside the Temple Church

Temple Church

Temple Church

Temple Church
Temple Church

Knight Templar

Pricess Diana Playground

Me and my sister

One of the Royal Swans - it is illegal to bother any swans in Britain  as they all belong to the Queen

Photography of art...

More mirror fun

A common activity - checking the map

Royal Albert Hall

In front of the Prince Albert Memorial

Mirror Art

We were so glad to see my sister (and not just because she brought us gloves to ward off the cold of the British winter) and were looking forward to sharing London with her!



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