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A Trek Thru the British Isles Part II-Touring London, UK

A View of London's Famous Places and Historical Landmarks brings Education and Enlightenment

My first day in London, UK continued on from my visit to Buckingham Palace across the street to St. James Park. St. James's Park is a 58 acre park in Westminster, central London and is the oldest of the Royal Parks of London. The park is bounded by Buckingham Palace to the west and The Mall and St. James's Palace to the North. St. James's Park Lake is part of the park and has two islands, West Island, and Duck Island. A bridge across the lake gives you a view of Buckingham Palace framed by trees and fountains and a view of the London Eye in the other direction. It was approaching mid afternoon as I walked down toward the lake. I had not had lunch so I stopped at a food stand next to the lake and purchased a hot dog, then continued on to sit and enjoy my food on a park bench next to the water, content to watch the ducks swimming nearby. It was a peaceful and tranquil setting.

View of the London Eye from St James Park
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View of Buckingham Palace from my park bench
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Finishing my lunch, I walked along the path around the lake for a bit, enjoying the lush greenery and beautiful flowers before deciding to head back to the hotel. The crowd in front of the Palace had grown quite a bit and I was glad that I had made an early visit to see it. I crossed the street and headed back down to the Crown Plaza stopping to snap a few photos on the way.

A London Phone Booth, I was surprised that they were still around in this day and age!
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A Street Sign marking my location!
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Walking into the Crown Plaza lobby after picking up some bottled water at a nearby convenience store, I went to the Concierge Desk to ask about buying tickets for a tour around London the next day. The Concierge suggested a tour that would not be too strenuous for Mom, but would still take us to see the highlights of London. It all sounded good to me so I purchased two tickets and headed up to our hotel room for the rest of evening. Finally feeling tired from the long trip from the US, I ordered some soup and a sandwich from room service for dinner and enjoyed it while looking out our hotel room window at the beautiful courtyard outside.

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Calling it a early night, Mom and I both slept very well that night and we were refreshed and ready to head out early the next morning for our all day tour of London. Our London City tour was the highlight of our stay. We traveled around the city in a comfortable tour bus, stopping at specific sites along the way. I enjoyed taking photos with my digital camera. The tour included the Royal Albert Hall and the Memorial dedicated to Prince Albert by his beloved wife Queen Victoria, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Place and the changing of the Guard, walking The Mall and seeing St James Palace, then on to St Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, Piccadilly Circus and The Tower of London were I stood in a very long line to see the Crown Jewels. All along the way we were treated to our tour guides descriptions of each site and the amazing history that surrounded them. As a student of History in college, I thought I already knew a lot about London, Great Britain and the English Monarchy. I was surprised to find that there was a lot I did not know and I soaked it all up like a sponge. Learning the history of this part of the world was like reading a Regency Historical Novel, but with more drama, intrigue, betrayal, war, and the never ending quest to attain and maintain power, all interlaced with elegance, majesty and centuries of tradition. It was all fascinating stuff!

Royal Albert Hall
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Prince Albert Memorial, yes that is REAL GOLD!
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Royal Band during the Changing of the Guard
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Impressive Guardsmen on horseback
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St Paul’s Cathedral
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The famous Double Decker Buses!
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The awesome London Bridge from the grounds of the Tower of London
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The Tower of London Royal Jewel House
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The Tower of London is a fascinating historical site. It is actually a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. It was founded towards the end of 1066 as part of the Norman Conquest of England. The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078. The castle was used for a while as a prison, although that was not its primary purpose. Early in its history, it also served as a royal residence. The Tower is a complex of several buildings with a moat, and the pathways are cobblestone and difficult to walk on in places. The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history and has served as an armory, a treasury, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. In the First and Second World Wars, the Tower was again used as a prison where several men were executed for espionage. After World War II, damage caused during the Blitz was repaired and the castle reopened to the public. Today the Tower of London is one of the United Kingdom’s most popular tourist attractions.

Having accomplished my task of seeing the Crown Jewels toward the end of the tour (for all of 2 minutes after standing in line for a half an hour) I made my way out of the Royal Jewel House to the souvenir shop and bought some items to commemorate my visit. Mom had seen it all before and elected to wait outside rather that make the long walk to the grounds of the Tower complex. The last part of our tour was a cruise on the River Thames which gave us some wonderful views of some other famous sites. The London Eye, a wonderful observation platform, the buildings of Parliament and Big Ben, and the London Aquarium could all be seen during this leisurely cruise down the river. It was a great way to relax and take it all in.

An impressive Crown from the Royal Jewel House on the grounds of the Tower of London
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The London Eye as seen from the River Thames
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The buildings of Parliament and Big Ben as seen from our cruise on the River Thames
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Our day touring of London was wonderful and we returned to our hotel feeling like we still had only seen a fraction of London and its surroundings. Once again I had to add another city to my list of places to return to one day because the time I had spent in London was clearly not enough. The next morning Mom and I boarded a bus with many other Princess Cruises passengers staying at our hotel for the trip to Southampton to board the Crown Princess for our 12 Day British Isles Cruise. This long awaited trip to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland and France was just beginning and I was eager to get started!

Next up we travel to Southampton, UK, the home port of the famous Titanic cruise ship, to begin our British Isles Cruise.

To Be Continued.....

Gerrilyn Grant Gipson Esq.
Owner/Travel Consultant
Meetings & Events Unlimited Travel Services

Posted by Gerriv 07:53

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