We’re in London for a few days as part of our European holiday. Each day I’ll add details of our adventures.
After the epic flight that is required when you live in Sydney, we arrrived nice and early Saturday. We flew with Qatar Airlines via Doha and were very happy with their service. As an unexpected surprise, our friend Dave met us at the airport and took us to his place for a slap up English breakfast before driving us to our accommodation. We are staying at St Monica House, south of the Thames.
Determined not to give in to tiredness we set off to the famous Portobello Markets. We used The Tube to get there, such an efficient way of getting round! The market has antique stores, shoes, clothes, teapots of all descriptions, flowers, buskers, food stalls, beautiful homes,old pubs and so much more! It was a vibrant and cosmopolitan atmosphere. (Of course you’ll remember it from the movie Notting Hill.) Rod even found a shop that just sold socks! Happy, happy.
From there we took a classic red double decker bus to Leicester Square to get some cheap theatre tickets for Monday night – so we’re off to see 42nd Street on Monday night. We wandered around a bit and discovered a lovely French Church, Notre Dame de France, that was a sanctuary away from the crowded square. It has a gorgeous tapestry at the front. And on the side wall there is a mural depicting the “Annunciation, Crucifixian and Assumption of Jesus” painted in 1959 by French artist Jean Cocteau. There is also a mural, “Nativity” by Boris Anrep in 1954.
Sunday in London was fantastic. We started the day with a tour in The Globe theatre. So interesting and we can’t wait to come back on Tuesday night to see Othello!
We strolled through Bankside, past some lovely eateries, and followed the bells to Southwalk Cathedral where a service was about to start. We enjoyed the service very much in this very old and beautiful place. It is London’s oldest Gothis building, the main structure built between 1220 and 1420. The choir was inspiring as was the sermon.
From there we went to London Bridge with its great views up and down the Thames. The view to Tower Bridge was our favourite.
A short walk from there and we came across The Monument which was built to acknowledge the Great Fire of London. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke and was completed in 1677. It is possible to climb the 311 spiral steps inside the monument for vies of London, but we didn’t :).
We then walked down to St Paul’s Cathedral for evensong. The choir had voices like angels and the acoustics gave you goosebumps.
After a scrumptious dinner by the Thames we visited The Shard which is the tallest building in Europe with spectacular views over London, We timed our visit to be there before sunset but everyone had the same idea. Crowded but so worth it.
Today’s them was Royalty – we toured to venue of royal weddings, Westminster Abbey, watched the changing of the guard, toured the state rooms and gardens at Buckingham Palace and visited the Royal Mews.
Westminster Abbey was a popular site, one of many places we queued to see today, but so interesting to see this place of history.
We then followed Birdcage Walk and though St James Park towards Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard. Another ‘I can’t believe we’re here’ series of moments!
We had pre-purchased tickets to view the staterooms in the palace. We were not allowed to take photos so word pictures will have to do. Opulence, elegance, grandeur, paintings, sculptures, portraits, ornate ceilings, grand staircases, state rooms, banquets, garden parties, history.
After the tour had a cup of tea and blackberry macaron in the palace gardens. Well posh. The gardens were lovely. And of course there was a gift shop 🙂
The Royal Mews houses the coaches used by the royals. Very interesting to see them in real life. I was able to it in carriage and give a royal wave while Rod dressed as a livery attendant. (Maybe because he was only half-dressed they gave him half a horse,) Fun.
We joined a hop on hop off bus just outside the mews and did a circuit. The guide was informative and it was great to sit down for a while after being in so many queues.
We attended the Royal Theatre Drury Lane to see 42nd Street. Great dancing especially when the whole ensemble did the showstopper numbers.
Today we started off a bit later, avoiding the peak hour rush on The Tube. Our first stop was Trafalgar Square. On distance markers when you see so many miles to London – it is the distance to Trafalgar Square.
Piccadilly Circus did not disappoint …
Borough Market is full of food of every cuisine imaginable as well a fresh vegetables, meat, fish, olives, cheese and flowers. A visual and aromatic pleasure.
We then wonders up to Bankside and had pie and mash at The Achor before attending the evening performance of Othello at The Globe. We had booked seats from home a few months ago. Originally the aristocracy had seats and the poor we able to attend standing around the stage, they were called groundings. Groundling tickets can be purchased for 5 pounds. The theatre was booked out – full house of seated guests and groundlings.
A gentle day today. A leisurely cruise down the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich and return. Greenwich is described as the place where time begins. Every clock in the world is regulated by Greenwich. There is a ball suspended and at 1pm GMT precisely it drops. If you set your watch by this you are said to ‘on the ball’.
There is plenty to see and do in Greenwich – you can climb to hill to the observatory and have one foot in the east and one foot in the west, there is a market and heaps of places to eat, and of course the Cutty Sark. The Cutty Sark was the last and fastest of the ships that were used to transport tea from Asia to Britain.
The Tower of London has been described as a Fortress, a Palace and a Prison. It’s over a 1000 years old and plays an important part in history. You can explore the towers, walk th grounds, see the Crown Jewels and have a guided tour by the Yeoman of the Guard.
Tomorrow we begin a Cosmos tour British Isles in Depth. The tour starts with two days in London so we will be shifting accommodation and do some more exploring. See Europe 2018 – Part 2 – Cosmos Tour for future updates.