We caught the 7:50am train to London Waterloo station and arrived at 9:45am. The train experience was uneventful which is always good in a new situation. We were able to get seats with a table so Tory and I sat eastbound and Matt sat across the table facing westbound.
We got off the train and caught the Jubilee Line (tube) to the London Bridge Station. Tory and I had looked over the map on the trip to London and decided to start at the east end of the city and work our way around west to end up back at the London Waterloo station to catch the train home that night.
First stop... London Bridge Station. We walked along the Thames Footpath and made our way down to Tower Bridge. There were quite a few people with cameras on the Footpath taking photos of one of the major icons of the city. We were right there with them taking photos along the way. We walked across Tower Bridge to Tower of London.
Matt and Tory had not been to Tower of London before so we paid for the tour (£16) and had a tour with a Great Yeoman Warder, otherwise known as a Beefeater's Tour (although Dave, our tour guide, stated they is no documented proof of why they are sometimes referred to as Beefeaters). The Yeoman Warder was very good, full of historical information and lots of humor. We were told that to become a Yeoman Warder you have to serve a minimum of 22 years in British service, hold an accommodation which is given after 18 years of a perfect service record, and have reached a particular level in the service (Captain, Sergeant, etc) although I don't recall what the level was. Dave served 26 years in British Service and had the clear, articulate, and well-projected voice to prove it. He was great!
The Tower of London has a lot of history which would take ages to write about. Instead I'm going to save myself some time and give you a link to read up on the Tower of London at your leisure. http://wikipedia.com/wiki/Tower_of_London
As we were leaving the Tower of London we noticed quite a few people were standing around looking in the same direction down the River Thames. Tower Bridge was up and a replica of the Golden Hinde ship was coming down the river. As it went through and then past Tower Bridge the ship fired off several canons (replica of course) with lots of smoke. It was quite a site and must be done on set days and times because most of those people gathered around the river bank knew what was going on. We of course didn't know and felt priviledged to have experienced it. I even have a short video of the event. Hopefully you can hear how loud the canon fire was.
We left the Tower of London and the Golden Hinde and walked to the tube station to catch a tube to Black Friar Station. From there we walked to The Black Friar pub for some lunch. The Manchester United vs. Chelsea match for the FA Cup was on but the place still had a few seats available. I ordered a sausage sandwich with chips and a pint of Carlsberg. The Black Friar was a very interesting pub. The walls were made of a tan and black marble and there were sayings carved along around the rooms with images of friars. One of the friar images looked like Yoda. LOL.
We left The Black Friar pub and walked across Black Friar Bride to walk along the Thames to St. Paul's Cathedral. On the way to the cathedral we saw the Millennium Bridge which crossed the River Thames to the Tate Modern Museum. St. Paul's was closed when we got there even though the guide book said we had 15 minutes till the last tour was admitted. We walked around the corner and found a side door that people were leaving from so we snuck in. The entrance was to the café and gif shop area but there was a gate that stopped us from getting to the see the inside of the Cathedral itself. I did get a couple of postcards from the gift shop of the inside of St. Paul's.
We took the tube to Trafalgar Square. There is a large fountain in the center of the square with a very tall then monument with a statue of Lord Nelson at the top. At the four corners of the monument base are large black stone lions. Several people, adults and kids, were climbing on top of the lions to get there pictures taken. Tory and Matt climbed up so I could take their picture. See their travelogues.
We left Trafalgar Square and walked down the Pall Mall towards Buckingham Palace. The large fountain in front of the Palace was blocked off since there was no water in the fountain. Usually you can get on the raised platform around the fountain and take some pretty good pictures of the Palace and of the statue in the middle of the fountain. Not today. The changing of the guard ceremony takes place every morning at 11:30am so we missed it but you could still see the Royal Guards out front doing their thing.
We left Buckingham Palace and walked toward Big Ben which is in the clock tower we could see over the trees. We knew that was the direction we needed to head. As we got closer to Big Ben we took a right turn and went to Westminster Abbey. It was closed as well as far as walking inside (you can't take pictures inside either) but we were able to take some good pictures of the outside. The front of the Abbey is quite tall and very recognizable. This of course was the Abbey that Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married (when she was only 19). This is the second time I've been to see Westminster Abbey and both times it's been closed (it closed at 1:30pm). Hopefully I'll get another chance.
We walked past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and over the River Thames. We could see the London Eye to the left of the bridge. I've done the London Eye before so I wasn't bothered to go again. It usually has very long lines and takes 30 minutes to actually go around once. It is; however, a great way to get oriented with the city if it's your first trip. You can see everything!
We decided to go for a last pint so we took a tube to The Sherlock Holmes pub. The downstairs pub was packed and you couldn't go in the restaurant unless you ate so we ordered our pints of Stella Artois and headed upstairs to the outdoor patio. It was small (just 3 or 4 tables) but the weather was good. We sat and relaxed as we had walked across the city and our dogs were really barking. We discovered through other's conversations that Chelsea had won the FA cup match.
We walked to the tube station to catch a tube back to the London Waterloo Station in time to make the 8:35pm train back to Bournemouth. If we missed it we would have to take the last train which left at 9:05 and didn't arrive in Bournemouth till 11:35pm. We just barely made the train station and just as we sat down in our seats they closed the train doors and we were on our way home. On the trip back I just relaxed and listened to my iPod. The trip didn't seem to take very long. We arrived in Bournemouth around 10:30pm. We started walking from the train station to our hotel when we walked past a few food places and smelling the aroma realized how hungry we were. We stepped into a place called California and I got a lamb kabob which is pretty much like a gyro. I got it to go as did Matt and Tory with their food and we went back to the hotel. Tory's room has a table so we went to "her place" to eat. I made the long trek to my room (right next door) and got straight on the computer to download the 183 pictures I took on our London excursion. I started writing my travelogue for Salisbury and Stonehenge and found myself nodding off at the computer. I went ahead and went to bed knowing that we didn't have any plans Sunday morning and I could get all caught up on my travelogues... these things are a monster!
Last day tomorrow...
I got up this morning around 5:30am to get ready for our day in London. I met Matt and Tory in the hotel lobby at 7:15am and we walked to the train station. There we were able to get 3 tickets for the price of 2 and a Travel Card which would allow us to use any tube (subway) with no limits for the whole day. We ended up paying £25.70 each for our round trip tickets to London.