This is a big year for our granddaughter Tessa. She graduated from high school and turned 18. She starts college, Washington State University, in the honors program in August. To celebrate all this we wanted to do something special for her so we asked her where we could take her and she responded, London. Then her 14 year old sister spoke up to point out that by the time 4 years passes we might not be able to take her anywhere, being maybe too old? Unfortunately she had a point so we decided to take her along and add where she wanted to go—Paris!
On June 30th we set off from Boston on Iceland Air for London. Arriving the next morning with almost no sleep we were in no shape to do much so once we settled into our Airbnb we took a walk about the area. ..
We were situated just south of central London right next to a bus stop that could connect us to everywhere we wanted to go. It wasn’t a great neighborhood but not unsafe. Its main problem being noise but as one of the other folks staying there said “what do you expect, you’re in London!” We were there when England won their world cup game and there was nowhere that night that was quiet!
After a good night’s sleep we set out to see the sights. Our first stop was Westminster Abbey where we spent about 4 hours touring the abbey.
We had audio guides which we were happy to see that the girls listened to all of being fascinated by the history. Denny’s favorite part was poet’s corner, which I also liked but even more liked Stephen Hawkings marker (next to Sir Isaac Newton) which said “Here lies what was mortal of Stephen Hawking” along with a mathematical equation. Not sure what the girls liked best but they were very impressed with how old some of the markers were. When we left there we walked around Parliament Square
Mandela, Gandhi, Millicent Fawcett (suffragette), Lloyd George, Churchill
and across Westminster bridge
and along the Thames. Lamppost (with locks), Tessa and Leila
Big Ben, War Memorial, New Scotland Yard and Royal Lamppost
Then we walked through a bit of St. James Park where we saw lots of avian life on the river.
Greylag Goose, Grey Heron, Common Pochard
We found a boat that would take us along the Thames to the Tower of London and back to the Royal Observatory so the next day we started out early on the boat. The boatman told us all the things we passed along the way including where Helen Mirren lived, where Sir Walter Raleigh laid down his cape for the queen, a pub Charles Dickens frequented and wrote about, where pirates were tortured by tying them down on the edge of the Thames at low tide and watching them drown as the water came up. Sounded pretty cruel. He also pointed out different buildings and bridges along the way
including London Bridge
St. John’s Wharf, the Shard, Cleopatra’s Needle
Helen Mirren’s house, Oliver’s Wharf
We got out at the Tower Bridge and went for a tour of the Tower of London.
I think we spent about 5 hours here, first with our Yeoman guide giving us a great and entertaining overview, during which we went
into many of the towers to see torture chambers, where Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned,
and where Mary, Queen of Scots and Ann Boleyn were kept. We also saw where the Tower Ravens were kept and the area where the be-headings of the more royal people occurred. Most of the public be-headings happened on Tower Hill.
There were numerous sculptures of the animals that they used to keep there.
We got back on the boat and went the other direction to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich where we saw the Cutty Sark.
She was for a long time the fastest ship around until the steamships came along. We walked through the Naval Academy and up a steep hill to the observatory.
This is the source of Greenwich Mean Time and the historic Prime Meridian where east meets west.
We saw the giant telescope they use and some of the many time pieces.
We got back for one of that last boats back to the dock. Really fun day.
The next day we took a train for about an hour’s trip through the countryside to visit Windsor Castle.
This is quite an impressive castle with over 900 rooms.
Of course there were some birds there: Magpie, Mallard and Jackdaw
The castle and grounds:
We could only tour the chapel, the state apartments and the Queen’s doll house. Through a bit of confusion we lost one another while going through the chapel and I thought the girls had moved ahead so went that way and Denny went back and found them then couldn’t find me. I finally ran into them coming into the State apartments as I was coming out. Sadly, it was too late for them to see the doll’s house which I looked for them in and ended up being the only one who got to see it. We couldn’t take pictures so they had to settle for seeing the pictures of it on line.