Thursday, August 4, 2011

London: Tuesday

Tuesday was the only day that we split up. Mom, Dad, and Daniel went to Gilwell Park, aka Boy Scout Land. That left Patrick and me to ourselves. We decided to focus on things Patrick wanted to see, since he was leaving on Thursday, and we could walk further afield since Mom wasn't with us and we could be a little more spontaneous. Patrick also wanted to shop for some souvenirs. First we decided to just walk up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. And after breakfast we did that, actually we did that twice because Patrick realized he forgot his wallet and we walked back to the hotel. We saw the Olympic and Paralympic countdown clock in Trafalgar Square - just a year away! I thought I had pictures of it, but I must have taken them with Patrick's camera. There was a good bit of construction going on in the square too.
National Gallery - you can see it was a much more overcast day, but not too chilly.
From there, we decided to walk over to Piccadilly Circus and up Regent Street to Oxford Street. Patrick considered walking up to Baker Street to see the Sherlock Holmes Museum, but then decided against it.Eros in Piccadilly Circus.
On our walk up Regent St. and over on Oxford St. we made a few shopping stops (L'Occitane for Patrick - he likes his fancy hand cream - and Anthropologie for me), shopped for Patrick's souvenirs and got some coffee, and I pointed out the different department stores to Patrick. We decided to walk into Hyde Park at its northeast corner, past the Marble Arch and Speakers Corner.
Marble Arch - they told us on the tour that this was originally built to be an entrance to Buckingham Palace but Victoria didn't like it so she had her carriage built too wide to go through. So it was moved to this corner of Hyde Park.

I think we were both impressed with how calm and serene Hyde Park was, so close to the busyness of the city. We walked along the north edge, and there was a lot of meadow-ish areas, with not many people about that morning. About halfway through the park we came to the Marlborough Gate and the Italian Gardens and pump-house. This is the north end of the Long Water and the Serpentine. The Italianate pump house and gardens were beautiful.The flowers were gorgeous - I thought Mom would love them.We walked diagonally across to Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace. Much of the gardens right by the palace are under construction (slated to be complete, like everything else, for 2012). But you could explore the Sunken Garden, and it was amazing. Like a little (or not so little) secret garden.
That's Kensington Palace in the background.
Flowers!Beautiful orange dahlias.
Patrick in the garden. There was a special installation where you could write a wish and put it in these red balls that where then hung in the garden. Some of them were sweet but some were creepy. We agreed that "I wish my cat would die so I could move to Paris" shouldn't have made the cut.Kensington Palace. This photo was taken through a hole in the construction wall, and you can see some of the work.
Statue of Victoria by her daughter Princess Louise. If I remember correctly, Victoria was born at Kensington and grew up there with her mother.
After we left Kensington Gardens, we walked south through Hyde Park and then east past the Albert Memorial.They say Albert was very modest and didn't want any memorials, but when you die young and your wife is Queen Victoria and she spends the rest of her life mourning you, this is what you get. It is crazy ornate, and he is gold. Gold, people! I was marveling all week about everything named after one or both of them, but I guess it make sense as she did reign for 64 years during a period of major construction and expansion.Royal Albert Hall
We walked past Royal Albert Hall down Exhibition Road, and then turned and passed the Victoria and Albert Museum. The V&A is one place I wanted to visit, never had, and still haven't, sadly.

We passed the Brompton Oratory just next door - an actual Catholic church!
We stopped and had lunch, and then checked out Harrod's. I bought some marzipan fruit from the market hall, and Patrick tried to buy a shirt for Kat, but mostly we wandered around trying to figure out where anything was. There is a whole giant gift shop of souvenirs with Harrod's on everything. We weren't that impressed. We walked the rest of the way up Knightsbridge past the Wellington memorial and then over along Green Park to Buckingham Palace.

Buckingham Palace gates - you can just see Patrick in the corner.Buckingham Palace
Victoria Memorial. I like how ominous the clouds look in this picture!
We walked across between Green Park and St. James Park, and I wanted to show Patrick Horse Guards Parade. Unfortunately, it was also blocked off for construction, something about beach volleyball. We stopped in St. James Park for a break and to figure out our next steps. We were both tired, but it was still fairly early in the afternoon.
The view from our spot of contemplation. If I'd had a book, I would have gladly stayed right there. I started carrying around my Kindle after this!
Patrick was still looking for a few specific souvenirs, so we started out again. We walked up Whitehall, and then decided to cut over and walk to the South Bank because I thought there would be more souvenir places by the London Eye and all the attractions over there. We walked over to Embankment, waited in a really slow line to use the bathroom at a Starbucks, and walked across the Golden Jubilee footbridge. This is what the Jubilee footbridges looked like - they were built on either side of an existing railroad bridge for the queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.

The South Bank was a little crazy, with a fair going on, a carousel, and things like mimes, people dressed up in costumes, chalk artists, etc. For instance, there was a Minnie Mouse, and we spotted the replacement coming up, then stopping to switch into her Minnie shoes.

Chalk artist working on the Lady of Shalott - the print I have hanging on my wall.The London Eye

One more because I really like this picture.
Patrick found his last souvenir at the most crowded souvenir shop ever, and I bought our London Eye tickets for the following day. We walked the rest of the way down the South Bank, past Westminster Bridge and Parliament.

Parliament from South Bank
We walked down to Lambeth Bridge, then just a short walk back to the hotel.
Parliament from the Lambeth Bridge. The large tower to the left is, of course, Victoria Tower.

I dropped my camera in the elevator and took this picture of Patrick to make sure it worked. He might not like it, but I figure he's not reading this, right?

We met up with everyone else, and then picked up sandwiches from Pret a Manger for dinner (for the first of many dinners there).

Next: Imperial War Museum, London Eye, Westminster Abbey (and the death of my camera)

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