It seemed appropriate to use a quote from Harry Potter about adventure since we spent the last weekend in London. My wonderful husband turned 50 and I wanted to give him a birthday to remember. Even though he has visited London in the past we had a fantastic adventure filled weekend.
As so often happens when we have these monumental weekends I am going to have to give you all the highlights.
A quick note of full disclosure, Will’s sister sent him a rubber chicken for his birthday. Will named him Charlie and we took Charlie to London with us. Charlie had a wonderful time!
Some of you may know that I have a degree in history, which means a couple of things, first I love to research, mostly anything but I do have specific times in history I like more than others. Secondly, when we go on vacation I tend to bring back books as my souvenirs. Admittedly not the lightest souvenir but I do like bikes an awful lot. If you are wondering what this has to do with the people who read my blog, let me tell you. It has occurred to me that because I give such quick highlights on many of our adventures some people might want to know more about a specific place or adventure. If so, just comment below my link (or photo, depending how you are getting to my blog) and I will see if I can write a blog about your interest. I have not opened up my blog site for comments yet due to some issues in the past but maybe in the future it will be available for comment right on the blog.
Now… on to London (with Will and Charlie)
We flew in Thursday evening and back home late Sunday night. We had roughly three full days to poke around London and we only pre-purchased tickets to The Tower of London and the Hop on and off bus. We knew that we wanted to see the changing of the Queen’s Guards on Friday, I wanted to go to the National Gallery, and Will wanted to stop by Denmark Street. Other than that, which already seems like a lot, we played everything by ear.
Friday we were up early as often happens when you are sleeping away from home. We ate breakfast at the hotel because when they offer breakfast and you are traveling you eat it, one less meal to buy. The coffee was beyond horrible but by the time we left I had embraced having baked beans with my eggs.
Then we set off by tube to Buckingham Palace to get a good spot for the Changing of the Queen’s Guard!
We were there roughly two hours before the pomp and circumstance began but that was a good thing, within a half hour of us deciding where the best place to be was the area around us filled, and filled, and filled. Until there seemed to be a sea of people all waiting for the pageantry. (Charlie spent the waiting time talking to all the city chickens he could find.)
The guards were all very regal and marched with much aplomb. We were too far away to see the passing of responsibilities as it was and should I go again I would position myself differently. However, it was a very memorable experience and I tip my hat in respect to the men and women who have given so much to guard the Queen.
From Buckingham Palace we wandered down The Mall towards Trafalgar Square. We found a great pub restaurant to have lunch called The Admiralty. Our waiter was in love with Charlie and patted him on the head as he would walk by. After my first real taste of English pie and pint of cider I was fortified to make my mad dash through the National Gallery.
I have specific artists that I like very much and others that I will bother to see if I have the time and then, honestly, I don’t much give a rat’s rear end about the rest. That being said the list of those I will pop my head in to look at does get updated from time to time, I learn about an artist or see a piece of work in passing and take a fascination to it but again, if I don’t care I have other things to do besides wander around looking at someone I don’t know about. That all said Caravaggio is always at the top of my list and I plan all museum visits (The National Gallery has a great app, Charlie concurs) with him in mind.
Will is pretty indulgent of my mad museum dashes and has mostly similar taste in artwork so we make a good team. After the Caravaggio room we moved to see Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas in the impressionist room. Hopped over to see a Vermeer or two and then dropped in on Seurat. Due to time I left off there and we made our way over to the British Museum for a quick view of the Rosetta Stone and the Egyptian wing. The British Museum artifacts are housed by beautiful architecture and the building itself is well worth a visit.
On our way to the British Museum we stopped on Denmark Street. When I say we stopped I mean we went into every store on Denmark Street. (Charlie even found a couple friendly faces.) Will is learning to play the guitar. I think he is much better than he thinks he is, I mean he hardly ever sends me screaming from our house, unlike my singing, which sends everything with ears on a dead run far away from me. (Even Charlie and all he can do is squawk.)
Will received a Boss Katana amp for his birthday and was interested in a couple of pedals to go with it. He hemmed and hawed but on the way back from the British Museum he finally found a couple he was looking for and I encouraged him to get them. You only turn fifty once. Which, is also true of every age but somehow milestones should be celebrated with a few extra perks.
Our good friend J is a lifelong Londoner but was unable to meet with us this visit. We will definitely hook up next trip. She did send us a snippet letting us know that they had created and lit the wands from Harry Potter to celebrate the release of the new Fantastic Beasts movie coming out this winter.
So we took a side trip to St. Pauls Cathedral and walked the Millennium Bridge to get a good view of the wands and the city at night.
On the other side we stopped to admire the Globe Theater, found some dinner and headed back to the hotel.
The next day, Saturday, feet already sore we headed out again to take in The Tower of London. I will pause here to apologize for every time I have called it the London Tower, totally an oversight and no offense intended.
We were early enough that there was no line at the Crown Jewels and we popped on through to see them. From there we walked part of the wall, took in the information on the Royal Menagerie (Charlie thought i was going to leave him with the Royal Menagerie and was happy to learn that other than the Royal Ravens, and a couple of city chickens) there are no beasts left at the Tower) and then walked through the actual Tower of London. They have turned it into an armory museum though you can wander through and see some of the areas where prisoners were kept.
We met up with our Yeomen Warder for his informational guidance. Though he acted as a guide, he is in fact a Royal Guard, his job is to guard the Tower of London. (It is an elite group of men and women, deserving of respect. More people have been to space than have been admitted to this job.) He explained more of the history of the grounds and the Tower. He explained that only ten people were executed within the walls of the Tower. Three were shot and seven were beheaded; of those beheaded three were Queens. Their remains were interred in unmarked graves beneath the floors of St. Peter ad Vincula Chapel. As our Yeomen pointed out, whatever history has made of these people today they died traitors to the crown and were undeserving of a better burial.
After we parted ways from our Yeomen we stopped in Beauchamp Tower and looked at the intricate carvings, or graffiti, left behind by some of the prisoners of the Tower.
It was almost noon and the tourists were out in force so we left the Tower of London and headed over towards Winston Churchill’s War Rooms. We stopped for lunch and when we walked out, we found ourselves in the midst of a very large number of people protesting Brexit. We have heard various reports but some said there were as many as a quarter of a million people protesting. It was a little overwhelming but we pushed through to the other side and made our way to the underground bunkers of Churchill.
It was a great tour, a side of the war that can only be felt by walking through the bunker and listening to audio narration. The bunkers also house a large collection of Churchill’s life that they have organized into a museum. The information was overwhelming but there is no doubt he was a great man and exactly what Britain needed to see them through World War II.
After we came back above grounds we wandered a bit and debated what to do but eventually decided we were tired and headed back to the hotel. We ate dinner at great restaurant named The Narrows where they served a phenomenal burger. Then it was time to get some sleep before Sunday came.
Sunday was supposed to be a Hop on Hop off kind of day but we had decided the previous evening that we wanted to make a quick run to Baker Street to check out the Sherlock Holmes museum. Now if you are like me and haven’t read the original stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but have only watched the movies and tv shows produced in the last 15 or so years than some of the museum will be lost on you. However, if you are a true Sherlock enthusiast then you will appreciate the detail they have gone to recreating the 221B Baker Street. (Charlie was very impressed with the museum and wanted to hang out a bit longer ut we rushed him on)
We did eventually get on the Hop On Hop Off bus but I quickly found it not to my liking. (Though Charlie enjoyed a birds eye view.) It was a great way to see the city and I might have enjoyed it if we had done it the first day but I had already tubed all over the city, popping up here and there and taken in most of the sights which we seemed to zoom past on the bus. We made it down to the London Eye (which I did not ride but I will try and do next time) and I had enough; the final blow being when we realized that Big Ben was under repair until 2021. So, we hopped off, never to return to the bus again. Lesson learned I suppose. From there we popped over to a restaurant called the Duck and Waffle, yes, I had duck and waffle. (No, Charlie was not impressed that we were eating his cousins.)
We did a little bit of shopping, stopped back at the Admiralty for a cider and apparently made this guy’s day. (He loved Charlie, his wife said it was the first time he had ever smiled for a photo.) Found a bookstore or two and then finally it was time to make our way back to grab our luggage and head to the airport. I have no idea how three days went so fast, I also have no idea how we did so much. I do know we walked a lot (10 miles a day) and I became quite proficient at navigating the tube. (Charlie popped up now and then to make people smile or freak them out, whatever worked.)
We had a great weekend and I fell in love with London!
I know this was the down and dirty of our trip but I have a couple of slow weeks coming up (I mean I could find some adventures but Will needs to recover from his birthday) so if there is something you want to know more about just let me know and I will do my best to write about it.
Until next time, thanks for sharing my adventures,
Ciao miei Amici