Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Visiting Landmarks in London, England

We have been enjoying our visit to London, England and trying to sight-see around as much as possible.  We know we cannot possibly see all there is to see here in our short visit,  but we are very much enjoying what we can see.

London is an old city, going all the way back to it's founding by the Romans somewhere near 50AD.  Today there are an estimated 8,308,000 residents in the whole of London.  London is a cultural capital and considered to be one of the most visited cities in the world. 

Big Ben is the tall clock tower at the end of the Palace of Westminster in London.
Big Ben

     Big Ben, which was completed in 1859,  
has become one of the most well known sights in England.

If you would like to get some exercise, you may climb Big Ben's 334 spiral steps all the way to the top.  According to what I can find out,  reservations for the climb to the top are filled all the way until December 2013.

As we walked closer to Big Ben to get a better look, I could not help but notice this beautiful wrought-iron fence not far from the clock tower.

I wished I had my telephoto lens to get some close-up detail photos of this beautiful clock.  According to what I can find out from Mr. Google, to tell you how huge this clock is,  the hour hand of the clock is 9 feet long, and the minute hand is 14 feet long.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is a church in the City of Westminster in London.  As you can see it is a popular major tourist attraction.  The lines were around the block waiting to get inside.  Unfortunately, as with most other major attractions, no photos were allowed inside.

It is an amazingly beautiful church with a history going all the way back to around 1100.  There have been at least 16 royal weddings here including Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh,  and most recently,  Prince William and Catherine Middleton .

Until 1760 most Kings and Queens and their families were buried at the Abbey.  Many prominent national figures were buried here including Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. 

How about that line waiting to get into Westminster Abbey.

 Winston Churchill

Not too far from Westminster Abby and Big Ben was this statue of Winston Churchill.  It is hard to think of England without thinking of Winston Churchill.  He was very active in government and was Prime Minister twice.  He led England during the Second World War with intense leadership,  refusing to consider defeat or surrender.

He had quite a wit and a wisdom. You are probably already familiar with most of his quotes, but I will include some here just in case you have not heard them:

 "My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me."  I love that one!

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."

"Never, never, never give up."

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

The story goes:  Someone said to Churchill, "Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison."  Churchill: "If I were your husband I would take it."      Ouch!

And, there are many more Churchill quotes worth reading ...

 Some buildings in the area.

A London Policeman.

The River Thames.

Below is a photo of The London Eye.  It looks like a giant Ferris Wheel, but it is so much more than that.

The London Eye or  Millennium Wheel is a fairly new landmark in London having opened in March 2000.   The wheel has 32 sealed and air-conditioned passenger capsules and each one can hold 25 people who are free to walk around inside the capsule though seating is provided.  One revolution takes about 30 minutes and provides an amazing view of London.   The Eye has become a major landmark and tourist attraction.

 The London Eye

 The Tower of London

The Tower of London is a historic castle built in 1078 by William the Conqueror.  The Tower has had a significant story to tell throughout English history.   Over time it was a castle, a prison,  an armory, a treasury, home of the Royal Mint, a public records office and today it is home to the amazing collection of the Royal Crown Jewels.  Also included in the collection are ceremonial and symbolic items associated with the coronations of Kings and Queens which include sceptres, rings, swords, spurs, bracelets and robes.

Among the famous gem-stones on display at the Tower is the First Star of Africa.  This is the largest flawless cut diamond in the world and weighs 530 carats.  The list of amazing jewels goes on and on.

 Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge which opened in 1894, is a suspension bridge which crosses over the River Thames.  It is within view of The Tower of London and is another very well known landmark in London.

 There were so many pretty flowers in London.

I loved trying to capture these pretty flowers with my camera.

Sights in London.

We arrived at Buckingham Palace for our scheduled tour.  Fortunately, we had gotten our tickets in advance, because again the lines were around the block.

Photos were not allowed inside, but you can see from the below poster photo an example of the magnificence of the rooms.

Everyone was hoping to see the "Changing of the Guards," 
but due to the threat of rain, it must have been cancelled. 

Buckingham Palace became the official Royal residence in 1837 and is now the official home of Queen Elizabeth II.  

The State Rooms used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September.

     I was able to peek at one of the guards 
through the gate with my camera.

Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State Rooms for entertaining and official receptions, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms.

More than 50,000 people visit the Palace each year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and Royal Garden Parties.

   The statue in the below photo is called the 
Victoria Memorial.

It is a white marble sculpture dedicated to Queen Victoria and is located in front of Buckingham Palace.

Queen Victoria

Beautiful gates leading into the Palace complex.

The below photo is the outside and back of Buckingham Palace.  Guests were directed this way when our inside tour of the State Rooms was  over.

There was an outdoor cafe and we were told to look for the Gift Shop as well.  Both were located within two huge tents set up in what they call the Queen's Garden.

The cafe was serving sandwiches and English scones with drinks.  We sat there in the cool afternoon breeze looking out over the Queen's Garden and enjoying this delicious treat.

We could not resist the Gift Shop and spent a good bit of time in there gift shopping for souvenirs to take home.

The below photo is a picture of a picture on display in the Gift Shop.  They were showing the English Bone China which commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in June of 2013.  This is an advertisement showing  the china was available for sale in their Gift Shop.

That bouquet of flowers in the below vase is perfectly beautiful.  Would have loved to purchase that vase, but it was way over my budget.  I think that whole picture is completely exquisite!

Some more English China available at the 
Buckingham Palace Gift Shop.

Below is a photo from the Gift Shop showing the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The next place on our agenda was to visit the Piccadilly Circus part of London.
Piccadilly Circus

It was our plan to have a before the play dinner here at the Criterion Restaurant, recommended by our hotel concierge.  The restaurant was opened in 1878 and  was next door to the theatre.   

Our dinner was very good and the restaurant was beautiful inside.

We were wanting to see a British comedy play while visiting London.  This play was called 39 Steps and was written by Alfred Hitchcock.  The play was very good and quite amusing.

And we come to the end of another wonderful day in London, England.  Thanks for sight-seeing along with us and hopefully you can join us next time as we visit a few more London landmarks before heading back to the good ole USA.

Sure do hope everything is going well with you, and I wish you a happy second day of Fall wherever you may be. 

Can't believe it is Fall already ... Where did Summertime go!

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