Saturday, August 30, 2014

A day in London

The day started with a journey from Bayswater Station to Westminster Station, 8 stops away on the Circle line.  Getting to know your way around the Underground is an important step in seeing the sights of London.  It is a huge city with a huge population.  Have to say that the Underground system is fantastic (although not all stations are disability friendly as some only have stairs).
We walk out of the station at Westminster and our view was this below.
Big Ben (or as it is called now "The Queen Elizabeth 11 Tower).  Better photos to come, but this was literally the first sight outside the station.
It was less than 100m to the entrance of Westminster Abbey.  We did have to wait a little while to get in and it was before 10am.  Photography is not permitted in the Abbey, so the only photos are the outside.

Now we have seen one or two impressive churches already, but this one is pretty special.  The present building began in 1245, although the site was used by Benedictine Monks in 960.  In 1066, the first recorded Coronation took place in the Abbey, that of William the Conqueror.  Since then, it has become the home of British coronations, the last being QE 11 in 1953.  Through the centuries, it has been the burial site for Kings and Queens, and any body who was anybody.  There are monuments, crypts, dedications to a huge number of other "important" people,  like Charles Darwin, Sir  Isaac Newton, Lord William Wilberforce, even writers, like Jane Austen, C S Lewis, Poets like Keats, and composers like Handel.
It was the location for Princess Dianna's funeral, as well as the Queen Mother, and recently, the wedding of Will and Kate.
While it is home to an incredible line of England's history, it is still a living Church.  That is, it is a place of daily worship and prayer, every hour, there is a minute of silence and all visitors are asked to respect this by pausing.
It is a fascinating history, and made interesting by the individual audio commentary to guide you through.  

Next stop was to cross the Thames, past the Houses of Parliament and to the London Eye

The area around the London Eye was very busy.  It is still school holidays here. Kids go back on Monday after 2 months break.  People everywhere, but lots of other things happening like buskers, entertainers and these statuettes ( they stand incredibly still and move unpredictably or do robotic movements.)  Pretty amazing.

It was then onto the London Eye for incredible views over London.  
Looking toward Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament below.

Buckingham Palace in the distance in amongst the trees.

On top of London!
Now I am not great with heights, but this was fantastic.  A very smooth ride.  Very popular tourist attraction even after 14 years.  With view like these, it's not hard to see why.

After our sky high view, we walked back to the other side of the Thames, past Downing Street, lots of Police about.  

Past the Household Cavalry, (Russell says every household should have one)

On to Trafalgar Square
Then back across the Thames for a river cruise. This was a good way to get another view of the city sights.  Below is the Tower Bridge.
And the Tower of London (where the other Crown Jewels are kept!).
A Police helicopter hovered over us for quite some time.  When we got home, the lead story on the news was the new terror alert for the UK and the city has been put on the second highest security alert.  Wonderful!

A good day concluded with a train back to Bayswater.  Pretty weary by this stage so a quick visit to the local supermarket to grab something for dinner.  Bread, tuna and chicken salads and Spanish red.
Cheers and goodnight.

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