Sunday, December 12, 2010

London: Day 2

Today we decided to hire a driver to show us sites around the city. We shopped around for recommendations online but internet’s been so hard to come by (that is, without paying 50 million dollars for it) we didn’t have as much opportunity to decide. Instead, we went old school and Andi asked the concierge at the hotel to provide a recommended service. We paid 95 Pounds (about $150) and made an appointment for 9am today.

Our driver showed up at the hotel on time and drove a nice, representative vehicle but we quickly figured out he wasn’t a guide in any sense of the word. He was a glorified taxi driver originally from Albania. He did a great job driving around the crazy streets of London but he knew nothing about any of the sites themselves. Our whirlwind tour around the city gave us a better sense of how the city was laid out and where we wanted to spend more concentrated time for the rest of our afternoon.

Buckingham Palace

After a few hours, we asked the driver to leave us at Tower of London and we spent an hour or so wandering the grounds of the historic castle/museum. You could feel the past of London as we walked the cobblestone paths from tower to tower. We also learned by traveling earlier, we beat the crowds as well so we were able to take time and look around at all the royal memorabilia.

Tower of London

From the Tower of London, you could also see the London Bridge. Of which, Fergie's "London, London, London" and the childhood "London Bridge is Falling Down" kept floating through my head.

London Bridge

Afterwards, we walked down the street to a pub for some lunch. Sadly, our food choices are heavily swayed by free Wi-Fi. We found a nice little restaurant called Liberty Bound and ate Chicken Vegetable Pot Pie and a Baked Potato. The food was warm and comforting; perfect after being outside.

Check out those mushy peas

Our next stop was Westminster so we hopped on the Tube to get us there. As we exited the train, we walked out to the big, beautiful Big Ben clock tower. When I think London, I picture Big Ben in all its glory and I loved seeing it in the middle of it all. We wandered over to Westminster Abbey next and decided to stay for the Choral Evensong Mass. This was, by far, one of the most moving experiences of our trip. The service was filled with an all-boys choir that sounded like angels echoing against the church walls. I, of course, couldn’t help but think of the Royal wedding that’ll take place in this exact spot in just a few months. Unfortunately, there was no heat in the church. It was so cold our teeth were chattering.

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

After Westminster Abbey, we walked around for a bit then hopped in a cab toward Tafalgar Square. T-Square as I started calling it because I could never remember how to pronounce it, is a urban gathering spot and the site of the National Museum. There’s also water fountains and performing artists. The Square was all decorated for Christmas complete with a choir belting out carols. We first went in the National Museum to cross “museums” off our to-do list. That’s what everyone recommends to do in London but truthfully, Andi and I aren’t much for museums in general. We did warm up a bit and now we can officially say we visited one.

The National Museum

We stayed outside in T-Square for a little while after and listened to the Christmas caroling and then jumped on the Tube toward Paddington Station. Paddington’s the closest stop to our hotel and we’d planned to grab a bite to eat near there. Since it was Sunday night, most of the restaurants were closed so we chose another pub for dinner and a drink.

Classic London telephone booth
(this one's for you Lindsay!)

The London Eye

Tomorrow we’re leaving London and taking the train to Bath Spa. It’s about 1 ½ hours out of the city. We booked a night at a bed and breakfast and we’re hoping to get lost in a new town as we celebrate Andi’s big 3-0.

1 comment:

  1. Hey lady! If you need a tour around the city let me know. Got some great friends there who are cabbies!