Friday June 21, 2019
We had a relaxing breakfast at our B & B and headed out with a “cartoon” map of London. A “cartoon” map is a map that shows the highlights and the route that the “hop on and hop off” drives around. We had opted not to do the “hop on” bus, as we had a lot of things to pack into one day. The sun was out, we wore our hats and sunscreen – first time on this trip.
We were only a short walk from Buckingham Palace (20 mins) and that is where we started our day.
We got there at about 9:45 and I realized that as the best viewing areas were beginning to fill in we should pick a spot and watch the Changing of the Guards.
We had a perfect view of the Horse Guard and would have had a perfect view of the Blues and Royals if they had come the way they should have done. However, I was pleased to see the Gurkha Regiment with their very fast march, passing in front of us. My Dad had served with the Gurkha’s and had always spoken highly of the soldiers and their dedication.
After watching the changing of the guards we walked down to the River Thames to take one of the tourist boats down the river to the Tower of London. The Glaswegian (on the train) had told us to take the City Cruise as the commentary was really good.
The London skyline has changed a lot since Ralf and I were last there.
Shelley bought the tickets for the boat ride and asked if we could use our Two-together train card for a discount. We got a 30% discount on the boat and a further discount on tickets to get into the Tower of London. We saved almost 20 pounds.
However, when we got to the Tower we thought we could go straight in to the tower with the “group” ticket. We were directed to pick up our group ticket from another window, once again we were in the wrong line and had to go to another line, not very good directions. Eventually we got our tickets which are a nice souvenir/bookmark. We were just in time for the next Yeoman of the guard tour (Beefeater tour). He was very funny and informative. The Beefeaters had to have served 22 years in the army or navy and reached the rank of Warrant Officer or above to qualify as a Yeoman of the Guard.
After the guided tour, we headed straight to the line to see the Crown jewels. It was a very long line, I checked with other people in the line how long they had waited and it appeared that we would only have to line up for about half an hour, it looked as though it would be a longer wait. I wasn’t sure if Shelley wanted to line up but I knew she would really enjoy seeing the exhibit if we did wait in line. The jewels and the history behind all of them is fascinating, unfortunately you cannot take photos in the vault. I was pleased to see that they now have the exhibit in multiple languages.
After viewing the Crown jewels we headed into the White tower. I was surprised to find out that Shelley was interested in the military history and armament.
We headed back on the boat to Westminster, two very tired tourists.
The commentary on the boat (up and down the river) was very funny. “The Tate Modern Art Gallery is on the left. It is free to go in. After you have been in you will understand why it is free. Unless of course you like modern Art.” And “The white ship on the right is a New Zealand ship called the Wellington. It is a club for Master Mariners. The Duke of Edinburgh is a member and on a Friday night you will often see him and the Queen staggering about the fore deck after a few too many drinks”.
The security in London is very high, as you can expect with the amount of bombings and terrorist attacks. I personally was glad we were only spending one day there.
We had planned on eating at the Wetherspoon pub again, but it was really busy and incredibly loud. We walked down to another pub/winebar where we had seen “traditional fish and chips” advertised. The fish was really bony. When Shelley mentioned to the manager that the fish was too bony and she didn’t enjoy eating the fish, he gave us a couple of glasses of wine on the house.
Tomorrow we head home.