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1 September, Monday

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 1 September 2008 | Views [722]

Welcome Spring - in Australia, and Autumn in England!

Chris had to work again today, and so Jean, Ron and I opted to catch the train into London. We left it up to the weather to decide what we should do - an open-top bus tour, or a tour of Buckingham Palace. As it started off well, with blue sky and lots of sunshine, we decided to take the bus tour.

After arriving at Waterloo Station we bought some supplies for lunch, which we ate on the Embankment, and then we walked down to the London Eye near to which was the office selling the bus tour tickets. At 24 pounds each ($48) they weren't cheap but still, it is our last week.

The bus arrived, we went upstairs and off we went - unfortunately, the driver (Ali) was a would-be Formula 1 driver and so we whizzed along rather too quickly for our liking, particularly as we wanted to take photos. The commentary was given by a very poshly spoken gentleman who really did know his stuff and who was give to hamming it up with Shakespearean quotes and bursts of song.

Our route took us over Waterloo Bridge down to The Strand, past the Royal Courts of Justice, then along Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill, past St Paul's Cathedral. Past the Monument which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren before he designed the present St Paul's Cathedral (which had been destroyed in the Fire) after the Great Fire of London and which supposedly stands on the site of the bakery in Pudding Lane, where the fire began. It destroyed 95% of the London of the time. After passing the Mansion House, home of the Lord Mayor of London, we carried on across London Bridge, back across Tower Bridge, past the Tower of London and along the North Embankment until we came to the Houses of Parliament, then across Westminster Bridge and around past the Florence Nightingale Mujseum, across Lambeth Bridge, past Westminster Abbey (and again the H of P)and on towards Buckingham Palace and into Belgravia - probably the most expensive part of London. We changed buses (from Red to Blue, although both were yellow!) and travelled through Knightsbridge, alighting at Harrods for another look around that shop of shops.

After some window shopping, some actual shopping and some wishful thinking, we again caught the Blue bus and carried on our merry way. By this time the weather was back to normal - cold and blustery, with nary a hint of sun.

Our tour took us past the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Science and Natural History Museums, down past Kensington Gardens and Kensington Palace then a longish trek to Marble Arch and Speakers' Corner (at Hyde Park). On to Grosvenor Square and Berkley Square then up and around past the Sherlock Holmes Museum (Baker Street) and Madame Tussaud's to Regent's Park, then down to Oxford Circus (past Hamleys Toy Store) to Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square. We then got off the bus and walked to Admiralty Arch and Horse Guards Parade (see photo), up to Downing Street which is, of course, now fenced off from the public, although we could just see No. 10 up the road (Jean was hoping we'd see Gordon Brown so she could squirt him with water on behalf of the people of Britain, such is his popularity as PM). We walked over Westminster Bridge and on to Waterloo Station, caught the train back to Martins Heron station and home. We all thought the whole experience was rather like playing life-sized Monopoly!

It was a nice trip but, as I said earlier, all a little too quick to get any really good photographs although on previous trips into London we had managed to get a fair few good ones.

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