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Daily Archives: May 20, 2019

Total London Tour 5/20/19

Today was our first full day in London and we did it up right by taking the Total London Tour, a whirlwind, 9 hour extravaganza hitting the major tourist highlights of the city.

So we were up at 5:45, downstairs at the restaurant for breakfast when it opened at 6:30, jumping into our booked last night Uber ride at 7:00, and at the Victoria Coach Station by 7:20am. As it turns out, Coach Station is just the fancy British term for Bus Terminal.

Our tour bus pulled out right on time at 7:45am, and James, our tour guide, launched into his detailed description of pretty much every building we passed.

Our first stop was at St. Paul’s Cathedral, but something was going on inside the prevented us from touring it. Designed by Christopher Wren, this present building was began in 1675 after the previous one was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. But there has been a church on this site since 603 A.D.

London Total Tour St Paul's Cathedral

The tallest building in London until 1967, it has been the location of the Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilee services for Queen Elizabeth II, and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

After passing by many other locations, like both the Old and New Scotland Yard buildings, and the Houses of Parliament, our next stop was Westminster Abbey, the coronation site of every British Monarch since 1066 A.D. And here we did get to tour the inside.

London Total Tour Westminster Abbey 1

London Total Tour Westminster Abbey 2

Like St. Paul’s, there has been a church on this site since the 7th century, but unlike St. Paul’s, there are over 3000 people buried here, including, not only people like Mary, Queen of Scots, and a bunch of Edwards, Williams, Charles, Henrys, and James, but scientists like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and more recently, Stephen Hawking. And even actors like Sir Lawrence Olivier.

And supposedly there is another relationship between Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s. When it was under construction, St. Paul’s ran out of money to finished up the building. So other churches in the area were dunned to contribute to their ‘building fund’.

And since Westminster Abbey, officially titled “The Collegiate Church of St. Peter at Westminster”, was a major ‘contributor’, this gave rise to the old saw, “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

At least that’s the way the story goes.

Unfortunately they don’t allow any photos or videos inside, so no pictures for the blog. However I must say that this was the second abbey, the other one being the one in Melk, Austria, that we’ve visited that was so ‘sacrosanct’ as to not allow even ‘non-flash’ photography, but not so ‘sacrosanct’ as to have you exit the church on your tour through a ‘GIFT SHOP’. Just sayin’.

Next up was a stop at Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guard.

London Total Tour Buckingham Palace

After a short walk from where our bus was parked outside the palace gates, we lined up just in time to see the Coldstream Guards leave their post and their replacement regiment march by on the way to take up their positions.

London Total Tour Changing of the Guard

Then it was all back on the bus for a drive across the Tower Bridge,

London Total Tour Tower Bridge

to our next stop, The Tower of London. But first up, we were given an hour for lunch, so Jan and I chose the nearby Wagamama location, an Asian-styled fusion place, that turned out to be excellent.

First up was an appetizer order of Bang Bang Cauliflower,

London Total Tour Wagamama Bang Bang Cauliflower

crispy wok-fried in firecracker sauce with red and green onions, and topped off with ginger and coriander.

DELICIOUS!

Jan got the Chilli Chicken Ramen,

London Total Tour Wagamama Chicken Chilli Ramen

while I got the Chilli Steak Ramen.

London Total Tour Wagamama Steak Chilli Ramen

After our break we met up with our guide who passed out our Tower tickets and we were left to explore the area for several hours.

This is the White Tower, the first building in the fortress.

London Total Tour Tower of London White Tower 1

London Total Tour Tower of London White Tower 2

Constructed between 1078 and 1100 by William the Conqueror, it was very formidable for its time.

Next up was the building that holds the Crown Jewels,

London Total Tour Tower of London Crown Jewels

but again no photos were allowed.

So I just took a photo of MY Crown Jewel.

London Total Tour Tower of London Selfie

Jan was also interested to see the memorial placed at the site of the execution of Anne Boleyn.

London Total Tour Tower of London Anne Boleyn

A historical group keeps fresh flowers on the site.

As we were leaving, I took this shot contrasting one of the oldest sites in London, and one of the most modern.

London Total Tour Tower of London and the Shard

The 1000 foot tall building, called The Shard for its broken glass-like top, is now probably the most recognizable things on the London skyline. Here’s a better shot of it.

London Total Tour The Shard

Then after a 45 minute cruise along the Thames, we finished up our day with a ride on the Millennium Eye.

London Total Tour Eye 3

At 443 feet, the Eye is the 2nd tallest Ferris Wheel in the world. The tallest one, at 550 feet, is the High Roller in Las Vegas, and we’ve been lucky enough to ride both of them.

London Total Tour Eye 2

London Total Tour Eye

And of course the obligatory selfie.

London Total Tour Eye Selfie

Then it was an Uber ride back to our hotel, where we collapsed without even getting dinner, just had some snacks in the room.

Tomorrow, thank goodness, is pretty much a do-nothing day, before we start again on Wednesday with a day-trip out to Stonehenge.

dsafd




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