Tuesday, August 22, 2017

London Day 1

We self disembarked and were off the cruise ship  Celebrity Eclipse by 06:45! Our driver from Smith's was there by 06:55- we headed to London.
 We were trying an Air BNBfor the first time. I would stick with a hotel chain in the future and I'll explain why as we go. One reason  is that we had to store our luggage at Victoria station as we couldn't get in until after 3pm, so no luggage storage available (whereas if we had a hotel, that would have saved $80 GBP!)

We left Victoria station and our travel partners had to leave to go to the hospital as my friend had a medical issue.  Jim and I headed out on our own to West Minster area.
                                                         West Minster Abbey
                                                     Jim & Winston Churchill

                 Big Ben was under construction & silent but still beautiful!

 My mother encouraged me to be safe and if there was a terrorist attack we should hide behind a pole....so we practiced.
Our original plan was to visit the muse and see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. We walked past St. James park towards Buckingham palace.
                                               Black swans in the lake
                                                   Big Ben is peeking at us!

                                                See the London Eye through the trees?

  We decided to skip the Muse since there were so many barracades up. Crowds were starting to form and most of the "good " viewing spots were taken about an hour before the change. We walked around for  about 20 minutes and diverted towards Trafalgar Square. We were tired from a 10 day journey thus far (Precruise stay &  8 night Norwegian fjords cruise) . The palace was gorgeous.

 We had a nice walk towards Trafalgar Square and were pleasantly surprised by the police and Royal guard staff that were on horses headed towards the changing of the guard.

There was also a movie being filmed, but i'm not sure what.
We arrived at Trafalgar Square and were hoping to have lunch and meet up with our friends after their hospital visit. We really enjoyed Trafalgar Square. Quirky and old..... we have things in common!

We had lunch at the Admiral's Pub and luckily our friends were able to join us for our 1 pm bus tour.

On the bus tour we visited various city sights as well as St. Paul's Cathedral (where lady Diana & Prince Charles were married) and the London Tower. *A word of caution here if you're booking through Viator. It appeared as though the city tour along with the Jack the Ripper/Ghost walking tour would be ending at 7p. There is a pause here and you aren't actually done with the tour until 10 pm with a 2-3 hour gap between the tours. We still needed to retreive our luggage from Victoria Station so we had to cut short the tour and miss the Jack the Ripper tour. Going through Viator seemed very "thrid party" and no one seemed to know what was going on.

                                                  The rose stems looked like tree branches!
                                    I would love to see this wisteria bloom in the Spring

We then went to the London Tower and saw the Crown Jewels

We couldn't hook up with the Air BNB owner until 730 so in the rain we're lugging around our luggage (up 2 flights of steps and into a restaurant). It was a long day. The apartment itself was okay. It was right by the Thames but away from any tourist sights. I liked the location near the Vauxhall tube station.