Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013 – London, England – Mostly Sunny – 72F

A most beautiful day in London…

The breakfast at the hotel – though discounted – was still pricey (9.4 pounds per person) so we ate some rolls from the ship with some jam purchased at a local market.  The room had a coffee maker so we were set.

Since the weather was perfect, we decided to tour Central London. 

 20130506_Our Hotel in Background (Small)

The Garden in front of the Caesar Hotel (background)

We walked a few blocks to the Bayswater Underground Station and picked up a day (bus/Underground) pass for 7.2 Pounds each.  We then boarded the 148 Bus.  We picked it up going the wrong direction but that didn’t matter since that would be part of the tour.  It would take us to White City (never found out what that meant).  We got the first seats on the top level and were able to take pictures like the one below.

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Bus 148 to White City

The trip took us by the Kensington Abbey Church (below)

20130506_War Memoria - note wreaths (Small)

Some great Art Installations in the park

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About 20 minutes later, the bus pulled behind some other buses and the driver indicated “end of the line”.  He suggested we go the Mall, which turned out to be a Westfield Mall – just like the one in Vernon Hills.

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Westfield Mall

Instead, we got off that bus and got on the one going to Central London.  Some of the points of interest along the way were

20130506_Statue Albanian Church (Small)

Albanian Church

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Victoria Gate – Hyde Park

 20130506_Flower Statue Bayswater Rd (Small)

Big Red Flower

20130506_Hold that cycle - Bayswater Road (Small)

Hand holding a Motor Scooter

20130506_Archway on Wellington Palace (Small) 20130506_Wellington Palace grounds (Small)

Top two above – Wellington Castle

We exited the bus at Westminster Abbey.  I should mention that today is a Bank Holiday (I think it is some type of war memorial day) so the central city is filled with wall to wall people.

20130506_Westminster Abby E (Small)

Ellen and Westminster Abbey

 20130506_Westminster Abby (Small)

Westminster Abbey

 20130506_Westminster Abby war memorial (Small)

Square at Westminster Abbey

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Me and Westminster Abbey

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Parliament Building

The area around Parliament was totally blockaded to both foot and car traffic.  I got the picture below from across the street.

20130506_Big Ben Parliament and Oliver Cromwell (Small)

Big Ben and Parliament

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Oliver Cromwell

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Big Ben, The London Eye, and Parliament

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Winston Churchill keeping an eye on Parliament

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Statuary and Courtyard Parliament

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The London Eye and Boadicea

20130506_Parliament and Thames (Small) 

The Thames and Parliament

20130506_Parliament Westminster Bridge (Small)

Parliament and Big Ben (postcard quality)

Many of the above shots were taken from the Westminster Bridge, which also is the best spot to photograph the London Eye (largest cantilevered observation wheel in the world – I believe or it should be).

20130506_London Eye 1 (Small) 20130506_London Eye on edge (Small)

The Magnificent London Eye

We were getting a bit hungry and also in need of facilities.  We went into the Marriott County Hall (the seat of government until 1968), acted like we knew what we were doing and used their washrooms (tres posh).

Lunch was at Subway – stick with a winner.  This Subway was much improved over the other store – they had lettuce and a working soda machine.  Another foot long tuna and we were good to go.

Back on the Westminster Bridge, we got a closer look at the statue of Boadicea (or Boudica), the Warrior Queen that almost defeated the Romans and one of Britain’s Greatest Heroes.

20130506_Boadicea Statue (Small)

Statue of Boadicea

Our next stop was Trafalgar Square so we turned onto Whitechapel Street.  We have seen a lot of red wreaths around the city today (war memorials).  One striking one was in the middle of the street (below).  Look closely and you will see one of them has a Jewish Star in the center.

20130506_Memorial Wreaths (Small)

The Prime Minister’s Residence at 10 Downing Street is off of Whitechapel Street. There were so many guards and people in front of the gate that we couldn’t even get close enough for a picture.

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Memorial to Women of WWII

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Guard at the Cavalry Museum

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Architecture along Whitechapel Street

Finally, Trafalgar Square came into view.  The last time, we were here, one of the storied pigeons dropped a massive load on my jacket.  I had to go to the museum across the street to wash the jacket in their washroom.  No pigeons today.

20130506_Trafalgar Square (Small)

Trafalgar Square

Continuing on Charring Cross Street, we came across another interesting street which among its sites stood the Coliseum Theater with a revolving globe at its apex.

20130506_Coliseum Theater (Small)

Coliseum Theater

I spotted a most unusual pizza variety in one of the stores – each slice had a fried egg in the center – the Brits – at the forefront of innovative food.

20130506_Pizza w fried egg (Small)

Down the street was the Noel Coward Theater – The play starred Judy Dench – pretty high caliber cast.

20130506_Noel Coward Theater (Small)

We also came across a monument to Agatha Christie (below).

 20130506_Agatha Christie Monument (Small)

As we looked down the street, we noticed a very large crowd of people coming at us.  It turns out that we were in Leicester Square, a large square with shops, movies, and restaurants. 

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People coming from Leicester Square

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Leicester Square

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Leicester Square clock and chimes (it never rang)

Leicester Square is like a mini-Times Square with Movies, and odd stores.  It is home to “m&m Land”, where you can get all things m&m in four stories of “fun”.  We had to check it out.  It was packed.  I was hoping for samples – no joy.

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Ellen at the m&m Store

Next stop – Picadilly Circus.  The central fountain was saturated with people.

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Picadilly Circus

We caught the 92 Bus going to Victoria Station knowing that we could catch the 148 Bus there which would take us back to our hotel.  Along the way, we spotted this very unusual statue – a man stuck headfirst into the ground. 

20130506_Handstand Statue (Small)

Our strategy for dinner was a) not to go to Subway; and b) Try some authentic Brit food. 

We would try Notting Hill again but first we wanted to see a little of Kensington Park and specifically, the Princess Diana Memorial Garden.  We walked across the street and, seeing no sign for the garden, headed for the Princess Diana Memorial Playground instead.  When we got there, the place was at capacity and no one was getting in.  I did get a picture of the park but not of the Princess Diana Memorials (next time).

20130506_Kensington Gardens (Small)

Kensington Park

Ellen had recalled that a synagogue was located on St. Petersburgh Terrace and when we exited the park, we crossed St. Peterburgh Terrace.  I thought it was in another city but we walked up the street to find the New West End Synagogue.  It was a beautiful brick building – they hold services a few days a week.  I got some great pictures of the shul.

20130506_New West End Synagogue (Small) 20130506_New West End Synagogue 1 (Small) 20130506_New West End Synagogue 2 (Small) 20130506_New West End Synagogue 3 (Small)

New West End Synagogue

For dinner, we settled on a pub type restaurant in Notting Hill and shared an order of Fish and Chips.  The meal was supposed to come with Fish, Chips, Curry something or other, peas, crunchy onions, and bread and butter.  The fish and chips were good, the curry stuff was inedible, the peas were semi-frozen, and the bread and butter was sliced white bread and melted butter.  I noticed that I didn’t get my crunchy onions so I told the waiter – he checked and said they were all out (just like the lettuce) but he would sub in onion rings.  They came and there were just two lonely onion rings on a tiny plate.  That, combined with the lack of service and the fact I ordered at the bar, resulted in the appropriate tip (need I say more).  We finished and headed down the street to look for something for breakfast.

20130506_Churchill Arns Nottingham Hill (Small)

Churchill Arms Hotel (note all the flowers)

We found a supermarket and bought rolls, butter, jam, and two chocolate donuts.  We were even able to use the self checkout – good thing since the only checker open had fifteen people in line. 

We used our bus passes to get home (a different numbered bus) – he didn’t stop long enough for us to get off at our stop – you got to run to get off these busses and I rang the stop button.

Feet are tired so the rest of the evening involves reading and resting.  I arranged a cab to pick us up tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM.  The cabbie had given us a card during one of our walks and his 35 Pound fare was about half of what the hotel had quoted us.

Lights out – 10:45 PM.

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