Going to London to Visit the Queen...

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, August 25, 2009

…but she was off in Scotland for the summer - go figure!

Today was the day we decided to get into London.  Over the last few weeks there have been many debates over how and when to do this.  Avoidance can only last for so long, and we both thought we’d regret it if we didn’t go and take a little peek.  The obstacle of our bikes and gear was one we overcame with leaving them at the campground and taking a train in from the nearest village. 

A bit of a whirlwind tour since we only had the day and our bus/train took 2 hours to get into the city center.  It’s only about 120km away.  Even the bus into Oxford took an hour (with no stops) and it was only about 40 km away.  Perhaps cycling isn’t such a bad way to get around…

Luckily, our train tickets included unlimited bus and ‘tube’ travel so we were able to zip around all over the place.  What an amazing system!  13 different tube lines and 23 bus lines. We never had to wait either - not even for our national rail connection or bus back to the Cotswolds!

Our first introduction to London was a very good one.  Popping out from the underground, we were right beneath Big Ben’s Tower.  Wandering around we took at look at the London Eye, the Thames River, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.  While starting to walk towards Buckingham Palace, Ben chimed out his noonday bells to us.  Perfect!

I must say though, I was quite disappointed by Buckingham Palace.  It seemed quite a bland looking building from the outside - although I’m sure it’s very different inside.  The area around was just teeming with tourists like maggots on a wound.  We couldn’t move anywhere without bumping into people.  No wonder the Queen leaves for the busy season!  The number of London tour guide books I saw could fill a Chapters Store - and in every language too.  I don’t think either of us heard a British accent all day!   Pretty cosmopolitan city.

A nice surprise was seeing the Canada Gate (which we didn’t know existed).  Outside the palace square, it’s a huge wrought iron gate with the shields of each province on it (well, not Alberta, Manitoba, BC, or Labrador - they’re on pillars since they were joined confederation later).  A little piece of home was nice to see :)

Then it was off to the Tower of London and London Bridge.  Brain has been very interested in the Tower and all the history that’s there.  It looks like an amazing place to visit and could take up a whole day.  But we balked at the 17pound/person admission fee, and didn’t have time to fully appreciate it even if we did go inside. 

So instead, we went to the FREE museums.  Brian wanted to see the V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum as it has a great collection of ironwork.  Very inspiring, he was constantly taking photos of ideas and techniques.  There was so much more to explore at the museum, but we did just a quick glance through. 

After a day of ‘power touring’ we were wiped and ready for the ride back into the quiet and quaint Cotswolds.  London was interesting, and I’m glad we went.  I know we only scratched the surface (and barely even that) of what it has to offer.  But it wasn’t as impressive as it’s made out to be.  Mostly it’s a big city with a few great buildings, and I don’t love big cities that much.  After experiencing Edinburgh and York, it paled a bit in comparison. 

Back to the campground to fin out it had been overtaken by a BBC film crew.  For the next few days they’re working on Season 2 of The Survivors.  I guess it’s about a group of people who survived through a world pandemic and now have to make their way.  I guess they’ll be braving the wilds of the Cotswolds tomorrow…
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Where I stayed
Mill Farm
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