Day Three began my actual tour of London. On this day I included Buckingham Palace (pictured above), Westminster Abbey, a walk by the House of Parliament and Big Ben’s clock tower, and then a “flight” on the London Eye.
My plan was to catch the Changing of the Guards but of course I didn’t arrive early enough. I got there shortly before the first ceremony begins (where the troops start) and it was packed. My own fault, the guide books warned me. One said it’s usually best to get there by 10:30. He was probably right.
Instead, I jogged over to the opening ceremony and snapped a few shots of that.
This was as they first started to march their way to Buckingham Palace.
I kind of tagged along behind the soldiers back over to the palace. Of course I couldn’t see anything but I took a few pictures of me in front of the palace and such.
After the ceremony, I took a stroll through St. James Park. It’s not quite spring yet so I’m sure not as beautiful as it could be, but it was lovely all the same.
In the center there is Duck Island. That’s of course the London Eye on the right side.
My stroll took a little longer than I planned because I must always stop and check out the animals. The squirrels were mammoth and were tame enough to (still skittishly) come up and eat out of your hand. And of course the pond had lots of birds.
I hear swans can be territorial and mean but aren’t they beautiful?
After St. James Park it was off to Westminster Abbey. I was pretty proud of my sight-seeing plans on this day. The palace and the church are actually quite close to each other. Not a long walk at all.
Westminster Abbey…what can you say? The place is absolutely astounding. A few notes, I think the audio tours here are free and I assure you, well worth stopping to get one. Also, you are not allowed to take photos inside the church.
Walking in the main area (nave) I actually teared up. I’m not overly religious or anything but it is amazing. The amount of detail will blow your mind. In the ceiling, in the woodwork of the choir area, on everything. Then you walk around the different chapels with the audio guide giving a little description of whose tomb you are looking at, often including a short piece about who the person was and what significance they hold. The history, the detail, the reverence of the place….it was breathtaking.
Before leaving I lit three candles in the provided area. I really was at a loss for words so I just lit the candles and stared at them for a while. I don’t know if that really serves its purpose, but I hope so.
Leaving Westminster Abbey I basically hopped across the street to the House of Parliament and the clock tower.
Massive. And as you can see, they’re doing a little work on the Parliament building.
I skipped trying to go inside and watch Parliament at work, so I walked across Westminster Bridge to Bankside where London Eye is just to the left.
Before riding the London Eye I went on their little 45-minute river cruise. It cost, I think, £9 or £10 with the purchase of your flight ticket. Personally, not really worth it. The commentary was rather lazy and pointless. Especially when I took another river cruise down to Greenwich another day. Much better.
The London Eye flight was excellent. When you’re loading, the pods do not stop. They line you up in 4 rows and let you go one row at a time. Seriously, it never stops.
This was my pod approaching. And not stopping.
The entire flight takes 30 minutes. You don’t go fast at all and the views are pretty great. I’m sure on a clearer day it’s even better.
As you can see, it was rainy when I was there.
After the flight I headed on back to my hotel. About two blocks down from the Marble Arch tube stop is a little Sainbury’s. It’s like a miniature grocery store. It became my little nightly ritual to slip in here and grab one of the ready-made sandwiches, a little bag of crisps, and a soda. So I made my usual stop and then headed on back to the hotel.
Highlights of the day had to be Westminster Abbey and the London Eye. Both I would recommend people visit when in London. They were both fantastic.