London

Tower of London Fortress Wall

After a long car ride from Heathrow through London traffic we arrived at our hotel next to both the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. Our room overlooked the gilded Royal Rowbarge Gloriana in a Thames River marina. After settling in we set out to explore the Tower of London, built as a fortress by William the Conqueror in the 1070s. The Tower is best known for the powerful and famous people who were imprisoned there over the centuries, but is also home to the Crown Jewels and pampered ravens. For a time it even housed a Zoo. Legend says Britain will fall if the ravens ever leave, so they are well fed and cared for. While returning to the hotel we encountered our first deluge of the trip, and found ourselves sheltering under a small section of the Tower Bridge with about 100 others.

Bus Tour of London

Buckingham Palace

The next morning we enjoyed a bus tour of London highlights with an amusing and knowledgeable local guide. Sights and areas visited included the City of London (financial center), the Monument to the Great Fire of London, the Southbank, Waterloo Station & Waterloo Bridge, St Thomas’ Hospital & Florence Nightingale, Lambeth Palace (home to the Archbishop of Canterbury), Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch, Hyde Park, Marble Arch, Grosvenor Square & the 9/11 Memorial, Pall Mall, Burlington Arcade, Fortnum & Mason, Berkeley Square, Trafalgar Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Whitehall & the mounted Horse Guards, Downing Street, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey & Dean’s Yard, and St Paul’s Cathedral. Brexit developments were dominating the news that week and demonstrators were out in force at Westminster.

Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace Tour,
Eye of London, and Thames River boat ride

Queen Victoria Monument near Buckingham Palace

The rest of the day was free for our own explorations so Connie and I started with the magnificent Westminster Abbey, site of coronations and royal weddings. We then walked through the beautiful St. James’ Park to our pre-booked Buckingham Palace tour. The tour featured Queen Victoria’s many contributions to turning the Palace into a royal home. Before leaving we enjoyed tea and scones at the Palace!

Next we walked back past the houses of Parliament (through the demonstrators) to the Eye of London, the iconic giant ferris wheel on the Thames. At over 440 feet high it provides spectacular views of London, including its many unusually shaped buildings. We then took a boat ride back along the Thames to our hotel as the sun was setting.

Next: Oxford, Bath & Stonehenge

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