Monday, September 5, 2011

Tramping around London

On Thursday we left Leicester after saying our goodbyes to Anne and Steadroy. We had contracted for a shuttle service to take us to London and our luggage (two bicycle boxes and three huge duffels) filled the van completely. On Friday we took the tube into central London to get the lay of the land by taking one of the double-decker bus tours. It was fun and our guide had a running commentary on the sights and British culture. We passed all the famous sights including the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham palace and the Tower of London.

We finished the day with a long walk along the south embankment of the Thames river. In Roman times the river was three times wider than now and the embankments cause the river to run very rapidly during tidal changes. We noticed that the current was very strong as shown with this boat tied up in the channel.

On Friday we took a tour of the state rooms at Buckingham palace. It is an amazing place with a priceless art collection. We were lucky to get to visit the palace because tours are only given when the Queen is not in residence. She goes to Balmoral castle in August and September and then the public can visit. We were not allowed to take pictures of the gorgeous rooms and art. We saw paintings by Canaletto, Titian, Rembrandt, Reubens and many other well known artists. The sculpture gallery was full of neoclassical statues by Canova. There was priceless Sevres porcelain and life-size family portraits back to Charles II. George IV commissioned the architect John Nash to redesign the Queen's house used by George III and Queen Charlotte into Buckingham palace. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to live in the palace and its art and furnishings came from George IV's estate. After the palace, we spent the rest of the afternoon on foot and crossed Tower bridge.

We went to Trafalgar square and saw Nelson's column.

Heading back to the river we saw the Admiralty building and then enjoyed the unique London skyline dominated by St. Paul's cathedral and some unusual modern buildings.

The tower in the middle of the picture above is still under construction. When finished it will be the tallest building in Great Britain. Next we go to the British Museum and then on Monday we will visit the tower of London and Saint Paul's Cathedral.

1 comment:

Brenda and Ray said...

Those grand British buildings, bridges, museums! What a feast. How're we going to keep you down on the farm? Can't wait to see you soon and catch up on your stories. Safe passage home, guys.