Of course, on our first day we stopped for lunch at a little pub and had to get some traditional fish and chips. Truthfully, though, I am not a big seafood person and I was not impressed.
One of the first places we saw was Buckingham Palace. Our hotel was just a few blocks away. At first, we couldn't figure out why so many people were just crowded around the gates. Then, we realized they were waiting to see the changing of the guard. That happens at 11:30 every day and they were lined up like this by 10:30. It was nuts!! We didn't stick around for the official changing because we couldn't see much anyway.
Next, we headed over to Westminster Abbey. No pictures were allowed inside, but I snapped a few of the incredible facade. It was somewhat reminiscent of Notre Dame in Paris!
One of the next things we saw was the iconic London landmark, Big Ben. We learned (on multiple occasions) that the name, "Big Ben," actually refers to the bell in the clock tower - NOT the actual clock.
Although this picture was taken on a different day, this is the Parliament building to which Big Ben is attached. It is very near Westminster Abbey and, obviously, on the bank of the Thames River.
I have to throw this one in. We went into a little grocery shop to grab a drink one day and, lo and behold, there was this little piece of Americana!
Our next stop was Trafalgar Square. We were there just around lunchtime and it was very busy with people and a couple street performers!
The picture of Trafalgar Square was taken as I was standing near the entrance of the National Gallery. We toured it briefly - long enough to catch a glimpse of this famous Monet painting. Recognize it?
(We found it very interesting that all of the British Museums have free admission. They have large receptacles inside for donations, but no fee is required!)
I don't like heights and was very hesitant to go on the London Eye. However, tickets could be purchased as part of a combo with a Thames River cruise, so David convinced me. The Eye wasn't as bad as I had anticipated and, since I had agreed to go up, I convinced David to join me for our one and only selfie of the trip!!
We also walked through Harrods which is absolutely amazing and overwhelming! We didn't buy anything except this yummy treat in the ice cream shop there!
On one of our days, we spent almost the entire day touring the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge! While there, we got to view the Crown Jewels, but, of course, no pictures were allowed.
Do you see that walkway between the two towers of the bridge? Remember my fear of heights? Well, this is a picture taken from inside that walkway where they have added GLASS FLOORS!!! You can look down on the cars driving across the bridge below and get an amazing view of the Thames River currents - IF you are brave enough to stand on the glass and look down! (David took this one!).
On our last day, we toured the Royal Mews - the stables and carriage house of Buckingham Palace.
We also attempted, once again, to view the changing of the guard and once again it was far too crowded to get a good view, but we did have a great view of the beginning of the procession.
Of course, these are just a few of the over 300 pictures I took - there is just no way to include them all! Some other highlights of our trip were the boat tour down the River Thames and the nighttime tour we took on a double decker bus. We walked through a couple parks that were absolutely gorgeous with bright, blooming spring flowers everywhere. We also visited Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown (I didn't even realize London had a Chinatown!), and Covent Garden. As with most trips like this, there were a few things we missed including The Churchill War Rooms, The Shard (although we saw it from many vantage points), and The Globe Theater (although we saw it from the River Cruise and the Tower Bridge). There is also (from what I hear) a fantastic Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio tour and experience that we didn't do.
One other caveat I will share - Thanks to Facebook, we knew that some our former neighbors would be visiting London that same week with their two sons. We kept up with each other through Facebook and seemed to frequently be following one another around the city, but our paths never crossed until the very last moment. The final attraction David and I visited was St. Paul's Cathedral. As we were on our way out, they were on their way in!! We saw them and stopped to chat for a few minutes about all we had seen and done. We thought how ironic it was that, even though we still live just 15 minutes from each other, we had to travel 5,000 miles to another country to see each other!! :-)
It was a great week and a really fun trip. I highly recommend all couples getting away by themselves once in a while. It doesn't have to be somewhere big and I know it can be difficult to juggle kids, schedules, and life in general. But, we need to nurture out marriages just like we need to nurture ourselves and our kids!
Have you ever been to London or another city in a different country? What is the furthest you have ever traveled from home?
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Did you know that May 2 was Naked Gardening Day?!?! Gross! Next Tuesday (May 12), we'll be listing some holidays that we would never participate in!! (If you need a little help, go HERE!)