The Southern Belles have arrived!
Trip Start May 22, 2011
13Trip End Jun 03, 2011
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Our plane arrived 30 minutes early into London, putting us in the airport at 6:30 a.m. However, this was just in time for our airport shuttle bus to compete with Monday morning early commuters, which caused the ride to take nearly twice as long as the customary one hour trip.
Even though we packed lite, it was still cumbersome to maneuver through "The Tube" with luggage. We definitely stood out like tourists! We then proceeded to check our luggage at Victoria Station for the day so we could truly start our adventure
First stop was exchanging the voucher for The London Pass, then onward to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard. It's only performed once per day, which caused many spectators to overflow the area around the palace. In my opinion it was more anticipation than substance. We had a front row stand, yet the only thing the 30 or so guardsmen did was march in formation to a drum beat by coming down The Mall to the palace. They were eye candy to see, just like the pictures in every history book, with the fire engine red uniforms and 2' tall, black, furry hats. The entire ceremony must have taken only about 7 minutes. However, while waiting for their arrival, we could glance at the gray stone palace and imagine William and Kate, or Diana and Charles, on the famous balcony over the front entrance.
I had read in a tourist book that there was a lone guardsman around the corner from the palace so visitor's can have their photo made with him. After 30 minutes of searching and walking, I can declare he does not exist!
Onward we went to Westminster Abbey and the informative audio tour. William and Kate's wedding is still fresh on my mind, but let me tell you..
Next stop was the Tower of London. Since we had wandered aimlessly looking for the guardsman, we were a little behind on time. So we took a taxi instead of the planned Tube. Mistake! Still with the traffic, our cabbie decided to take the scenic route (not by our instruction) which took one hour and £21.20! I'm sure he took advantage of the big TOURIST sign across our foreheads.
The Tower of London tour was entertaining with a very spirited live audio by resident Yeoman Warders. And then we saw the Crown Jewels ~ just how many golden scepters, crowns, dining plates, and spoons does a dysfunctional family need??? Especially after hearing the stories of how many of "family" killed each other, or had their soulmates placed in tower dungeons for decades, any outsider could see they needed to spend more time in counseling than platter design.
Rushing back across town (this time by the planned Tube route), we made it to Kensington Palace before closing. Diana's palace is being renovated, so there are just a handful of rooms open to the public. And the program is referred to as "an enchanted palace" about the lives of 7 princesses that have lived there. Madison liked the theme as there was a "seek and find" activity to name the princesses based on clues.
The requisite "Fish and Chips" was on the menu for tonight's dinner at a locally-owned pub. The fish was very fresh and the food was actually very good. We also had the customary tea.
After dinner we scooted back across town to Victoria Station to reclaim our luggage and head to the Girl Scout World Center in London, Pax Lodge, where we are spending the night. Although I've never stayed at a hostel, I suppose this would be counted as an upscale one. No TV/phone in the room, and the shower is across the hall, and the bathroom down the hall, our room is spacious, very clean, and has carpet! Madison is very exhausted, as I am, so it's off to bed to recoup for another day on our adventure. God is good!!!