Chapter Thirteen - In and out of London

Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
Trip End Oct 14, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, October 6, 2012

Everything is packed and we are leaving our lovely country cottage for The Big Smoke. It's 9:00 am and it's time to defy the congestion charge. London was the world's first major city to introduce a congestion charge to reduce the flow of traffic into and around the city centre.

The charge is 10 (almost US$ 16!). We are fortunate as there is no charge on weekends, so we are going to drive right through London non-stop, seeing all the sights from the window of our car.

We fill up the tank with 52 ($ 84) of petrol and off we go. As we approach the city we feel the need for coffee and a pee. We stop at a rather nondescript McDonalds in the East End before we enter the city over Tower Bridge.

Our driving route, to be achieved without any use of a GPS, is: Tower of London; Bank of England; St. Paul’s Cathedral; Fleet Street; Strand; Trafalgar Square; Leicester Square; Soho; Chinatown; Shaftsbury Avenue (theatres); Piccadilly; Whitehall; Houses of Parliament (Big Ben); Buckingham Palace; Hyde Park; Knightsbridge; Harrods; Sloane Street; Kensington; Museums; Hammersmith. Those who know London will appreciate the route.

Trafalgar Square is busy with a Japanese festival, though for the life of me I cannot see what Japan has to do with Lord Nelson. When we arrive at Buckingham Palace there are huge crowds.

"Are we going to see the Queen?" asks Margarita, peering out of the window. "Why is everyone cheering at us?"

Suddenly we see marching out of the gates of the palace a troop of Grenadier Guards, complete with bearskin helmets. We are in the middle of the famous changing of the guard.

Before we can get our cameras out, a mounted policeman approaches us.

“No stopping. Move along please”.

A group of the household cavalry ride right past us. It’s an amazing experience, and I still have no idea how we just drove right into the middle of everything. We must have driven through a “loophole”.

Just for the sake of the girls, we pass by the Peruvian Embassy on Sloane Street, saluting the flag, and crying out….“Viva el Peru, Carajo!

After our odyssey through London, we stop for a bite to eat in Turnham Green. We enjoy a lovely English breakfast of fried egg, fried bread, fried tomato, fried bacon and baked beans (just so we don’t get to lose any of our valuable cholesterol).

I have put my pennies in the parking meter and placed the receipt on the dashboard, but on closing the door a pile of books and maps tumble out right into a murky puddle beside the car. I spread them out on the dashboard to dry. When we return to the car there is a parking ticket on the windscreen. I look inside the car and with sinking feeling realise that I have covered over the parking receipt with the drying books and maps. The offending meter maid is out of sight, so I’ll have to fix this problem at a later date.

We now have to deliver Cecilia to her friend’s house in Staines. She will stay there for a couple of days. Meanwhile, Miryam, Margarita and I will continue on to Epsom where we are to stay at Byron and Sheila’s place for the next seven days. 

This evening we enjoy dinner at Sheila’s friends Rupert, Debbie and family. Their daughters, Rachael and Rebecca had visited us in Miami earlier. It’s a wonderful English dinner of roast beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and cauliflower au gratin.
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derrick241 on

You were getting closer to me when you visited Staines (about 11-12 miles)

I think you would have been better going by the underground, but seeing London through a car window isnt the best way to see it

A 'oyster' card is favourite (lots of tourist use them, you can always tell, they are the ones with maps and a confused look on their face) but they still work out the best, cheapest way to see London

There was a time you could just pull over and watch the guards on parade, same as Buck house

A wander down the Bayswater Road on a Sunday is a great way to see real people, then a dtrop off into Queensway for a bite to eat (you can eat the world there, so many different restaurants from all over)

Did you ever get the ticket sorted ? (they can be heartless these traffic wardens)

Its not cheap to park in London at anytime, next time jump the toiur bus, a good way to see London (assuming the weather is with you)

Another place to visit is the monument, you can get all the way to the top there (commeroates the fire of London)

Then a wander down Oxford Street, Regent Street, Picadily Circus, then into 'Theatre Land'

Even the embankment can be interesting, walking alongside the Thames towards Tower bridge and the Tower of London

Now the pigeons have gone from Trafalgar square, there is always something going on now

Glad you enjoyed a 'traditional' Sunday lunch/dinner, but they are getting few and far between these days

greekcypriot on

Derrick this entry you are commenting on is from almost a year back.
It is only Martin who does these late updates!!

derrick241 on

Its from his holiday, in October, last year, I only got it this morning

Cesar Barroso on

Hi, Martin,
I feel like making reservations right away. Good post and nice photos.

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