*WARNING...very photo heavy post! Enjoy!*
Day 2 of our London visit started out much like day 1 did...with Egg McMuffin's on a park bench along the Thames (you thought I was kidding, didn't you!?) and more photos of Parliament and Big Ben on our walk across the Westminster Bridge. I told you, I couldn't get enough of these attractions!
Big Ben is WAY big. And beautiful. My photos just don't do it justice.
The agenda for day 2 was devoted to all things ROYAL! Ok, well a few less royal things were also thrown in the mix, but we basically saw all the major sights prominent in the lives of the Royal Family. First up, Westminster Abbey!
The Abbey opened to the public at 9:30am. We arrived at 9:45 and there was already a line formed out the door and around the building. We had to wait 20 minutes to get inside. SO WORTH IT!
Can you peek through that door? Well, sorry folks. That's as much of the Abbey as I can show you. Unfortunately, again, no photos were allowed inside. I swear, all the good stuff is off limits to cameras. No fair! What I can tell you is that the inside of this place is just as grand as the outside, if not more so. I've never seen so many ornate statues, crypts, chapels, and alters in my life. So beautiful. So sacred. D and I took the audio tour and learn so much about the Abbey and all it's parts. Did you know that the great composer Geoffrey Chaucer is buried here? Along with his poetic, artistic, and scientific pals Lord Byron, Laurence Olivier, Charles Dickens, and Charles Darwin. Also memorialized here is the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Royal brides married at the Abbey have their bouquets laid on the tomb the day after their wedding. Such a lovely tradition.
We got to sit in the chairs lined along the Abbey's aisle and a stare up the ornate fan vaulting on the ceiling. I also made D walk arm and arm with me as we exited the Abbey. So what if I wanted to walk in the footsteps of Kate Middleton for a second? It felt magical. I'm a girl, we do silly things like that. And I will never forget it.
This was another entrance into Westminster Abbey, and if I remember correctly, the entrance Kate and Will entered before they made their way down the aisle. EEEK!
Next up on our royal tour, Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guards! But first, we took a walk through St. James's Park (which is in front of Buckingham Palace and stretches along the National Mall) on our way to the Palace.
There it is! Through the trees! Oh, to have a house like that!
We arrived at Buckingham Palace literally 2 seconds before the changing of the guards was about to start. We didn't have the best seats, so we didn't actually get to see the changing part. But, we were able to see the new guards walking into the palace gates, along with the Royal Air Force.
Now the start of the walking in of the Changing of the Guards!
And just as quickly as the entered...they were gone again. Boo hoo. But very glad we got to see them in their super snazzy red uniforms and fuzzy hats! Seeing as we couldn't really get close to the palace gates for photos yet, we decided to make our way down the National Mall to Trafalgar Square.
Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square
After exploring Trafalgar Square, where an NFL Fan Day rally was being held for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Chicago Bears game at Wimbley Stadium, we realized our tummies were rumbling and it was time to find ourselves some lunch! But where? We walked a ways through Covent Garden....
I swear, London has the cutest shops! This one, SNOG, is a frozen yogurt bar. Adorable.
During our walk, we stumbled upon this adorable English pub, The Sussex, where we feasted on Fish & Chips and mushy peas! D also had himself a nice pint of ale to wash it all down. In all honesty, I've had better Fish & Chips back in the states. So, it was a bit of a disappointment, but at least we can say we ate traditional pub food in London.
Totally wasn't kidding about the mushy peas. They were interestingly good. Of course, I love peas...those would be an acquired taste for some.
Next, we decided to walk back to Buckingham Palace to get better pictures and to enjoy the beautiful palace with less of a crowd.
I wish they would have just let me in already!! :)
After I had gotten my royal fix (which is hardly ever possible, I could stand there and stare all day!), we made our way back towards our hotel and decided to try something new. The hotel concierge informed us that the Houses of Parliament had recently opened their doors (only on Saturdays from 10am-4pm) to tourists for guided tours. Normally, only residents of the UK are allowed inside. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to get to see the inside of such a beautiful, historic building, so we paid £15 per person (I know, ridiculous!) and made our way to the tour. Sadly, again, there were no photos allowed. The photos below are a few we took before entering the Houses of Parliament. It was neat to see the less famous, backside of the Houses. As for the inside...it was spectacular. Every square inch of that place. We got to stand in the rows where the Lords and the Commoners hold their meetings. We also got to see the throne and robe room where the Queen puts on her royal robe before meeting with the Lords. Think lots of crushed red velvet, ornate frescos, and gold. Royalty to a "T!"
This is a photo of the back of the Westminster Abbey. The flying buttresses are breathtaking!
Our view from the inside courtyard of the Houses of Parliament. LOVE IT!
Finally, it was time to end our last night in London with a lovely dinner at Thai Square-Wig & Pen. We chowed down on the most delicious Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles either of us had ever eaten! London completely redeemed itself after our lackluster Fish & Chips lunch.
Then we took one last walk across the Westminster Bridge. Isn't London stunning at night!?
Our hotel even glowed!
Sunday morning, it was time to pack up and make our way to Heathrow Airport for our flight back to Germany. Sad day. Here are some photos of our airport travels. Quite amusing, actually.
Breakfast at Heathrow...3 rashers of streaky bacon, 2 eggs, and toast! Really, really good. Pictured below is as close as we got to Harrods. The airport had a nice little one...but the big, famous one in Central London is on our list to see next time!
Ahh...and then we arrived at our layover in Amsterdam. The Dutch are odd people. This is just judging from the array of souvenirs we encountered. Pass the salt, please...and you can hang on to that pepper. Ahem. Just as long as their separated.
Little wooden shoes! If these weren't children's shoes, I would have gotten them. Guess I'll actually have to visit Amsterdam to snag a pair!
As you can see, we had a smashing good time in London. I seriously cannot wait for our next visit. Until then, it's time to focus my attention on the holidays. Can you believe it's already November?! We've been overseas for over 4 months now! BANANAS! And Christmas is just around the corner! Must start shopping NOW! Toodles!