London - Buckingham Pub to the Palace

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The day did not start off well as pulling a lot of luggage up a slight incline was not fun. In fact the opposite of fun. We somehow had lots more luggage than when we got to York and all the luggage seemed heavier (Ken had all those CD's). The train station at York is quite spectacular in its architectural details.  We did not hang out there, however, because we were quite behind in our transportation arrangements and we were close to missing our train to London. I could only walk slowly to the first bus stop.

On our train trip we saw the end of the Yorkshire Dales.

We are off to London.

We went through a lot of towns on our way there - Retford, Newark Northgate, Grantham, Peterborough, Stevenage and finally ending our trip at London's Kings Cross.

OMG we are in London and it seems rather surreal. We are still lugging our heavy luggage and I still have rather tender tooties. What a time to have sore appendages.

Here is Ken looking pensive. Faced with several travel options which way to go. Really nice steward in the train station did come out and asked if we needed help finding our stop. Way to go London Tourism, always nice to feel welcomed in a new city.

We take the Tube to Paddington Station where we get off to find University of London dorm - Lillian Penson Hall. There sure area a lot of people on the streets of London, it appears massively busy.

Once at Lillian Penson Hall, our dorm room awaits. Wait is actually the term because it was not ready and we had to wait an extra half hour to have it cleaned. The place seems clean enough and has lots of storage space. It is, however, a bit tiny but we do have our own ensuite bathroom.

We rid ourselves of the sluggish luggage,  off to Hyde Park.

Hyde Park is huge with areas of tall trees and grass. Then we find ourselves by a stream running through the park with the most amazing gardens planted beside it. Further on we came to Serpentine Lake with striped lawn chairs that you luxuriate in for a fee. There are birds and dogs enjoying this wonderful park, too. We continue our walk passed many consulates, our personal favourite being Mexico. We continue our walk to Buckingham Palace. We see where on many occasions the Royal Family has come out on the balcony and greeted the world. We see the guards with the tall, black hats. and the huge fountain outside the Palace gates. To find the closest beer to the Palace is our next task. That, of course, was easy to accomplish.

Ken wanted to visit the pub closest to Buckingham Palace. It turned out to be the Buckingham Pub, go figure. There we saw a picture of the late Queen Mom pulling a pint and we enjoyed one ourselves. It was a lovely day and many pub patrons just stood in the front of the pub, enjoying, sun, the beer and each others company.

Yes, that is the late Queen Mom pulling a pint.

We head off to Soho for supper and enjoyed the walk through the parks.

On our way to supper in the Soho area we find a pre-launch for "The Widow" by Fiona Barton. Quite the shindig considering it was a pre-launch. They handed out a small segment of the fiction novel to wet our appetites, but only had a limited number.

Then off we went to supper at a top rated London restaurant for a Chinese food supper. Delicious!

Ken was fascinated that they made their own noodles here, by hand. We were allowed to photo the process.

After supper, a short stroll seemed appropriate.

By this time we wanted to go back to the dorm and to rest. We still walked and walked and finally found the correct bus. Once on the bus, the very long ride let us know we had done the right thing by bussing it instead of walking. It was a long ride.

What a better way to finih the day, laundry at the dorm!

I can hardly wait to get out and see more of this immense, old city.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The breakfast provided by the University is filling and delicious. There is even a vegetarian option with a veggie sausage. You get too much food so the plan for tomorrow is be careful and choose less food. You can always go back for more.

Leaving from Paddington Tube station we went to Charing Cross, exiting near Trafalgar Square.  It was quite close to the Canadian Embassy. Ken asked talked to the doorman to try and purchase Canada pins as we are not always recognized as Canadians. The doorman actually took the pin off his lapel and gave it to Ken. Then he found me one which I promptly put on my purse.  From there it got crazy. As I think of all the things we did and places we walked it is small wonder that we are both exhausted. We found out where the National Gallery was and went to check it out. Decided to return later.

Next we happened by when the Calvary Guard was changing. These black and white horses were magnificant, well bred, well fed and well behaved. The riders appeared young and were wearing some shiny regalia. A brown horse and his rider were standing by. An elderly gentleman was feeding the horse what looked like crackers. In the end he got out two chiclets and gave them to the happy horse. The rider thought all this was great fun.

Then we walked to the Parliament Buildings on the River Thames - huge and magnificent with a little Big Ben added in for good measure. We started walking over the Thames but went the other way towards Westminster Abbey, which we only walked passed, crowds to get in did not appeal to us. We went into St. Margaret's Church instead. We could sit down at last. There was stained glass from Henry the VIII era. We were not allowed to take photos.

From St. Margaret's we needed a break and went for lunch, back to Soho. We took a bus and did not walk this time because we have lots of touristy stuff to do for the rest of the day. We can be creatures of habit as you know and we went back to the noodle restaurant we were at last night. Going back to were we started from before lunch we took a double decker bus that let us on at the back, a first for me.

Ghandi statue

Going our separate ways for awhile, Ken went to the Apple store in Covent Green. Funky area! I went back to the National Gallery. Believe me when I say that this was a huge, incredible gallery full of paintings, the likes of which I have never seen. I have been to many galleries in North Averica. There was gallery after gallery with both huge and small paintings in mostly guilded frames. I was only on the top floor of the gallery as I was exhausted by even that much. I saw paintings by masters from about 1200 AD to about 1600 AD. Aritsts such as Jacapo Bassano, Peter Paul Rubins, Diego Velazquez, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Jan Gossaert, Raphael, etc., an amazing amount of artists. I want to go back and see at least one more if not both of the other two floors of art.

Ken easily found me in this massive space, surprisingly. We were off on another adventure, back to the Canadian Embassy. The tour was actually full (they only do it on Friday afternoon). They let us in on the talk and walk. Canada's Embassy is the only one Embassy in England that has tours for the public. The building used to be a mens club back in the day then the Canadian Government bought it along with the building beside it which is attached to the original building. The tour guide, Caroline, has been with the Embassy for about ten years so she really know her stuff. It was a graceful, old building of at four floors which has been lovingly restored. There is a room for each province. Each of those rooms has art from artists who live in those provinces. The BC room has a painting of Emily Carrs (lots of other BC art, too). The Saskatchewan room has green leather chairs with a nod to the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. A Joe Fafard buffalo is in a small hall between Saskatchewan and Alberta rooms. Buffalo originally roamed between the two provinces. That tour was a lot of fun. Being such a great day we got to go our on the patio which as some stunning view.

Fafard buffalo

The view over Trafalger Square from the roof of the Canadian Embassey

We needed a break but did not want to leave the action. We got a little snack and went to Victoria Embankment Gardens, very close the the River Thames. Others, too, had decided not to waste the sun and nice weather by eating inside. We saw a bit of a roux happening. It was not long before some London Bobbys were their trying to sort out the mess.

Then we came back to the dorm and checked out the supper menu, actually seeing the food up close and personal. That was a bit of a mistake because then we had to eat the food as now we were hungry. We split another meal and still ate way too much. It was only £5 for supper, you can not beat that for two people in downtown London.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

We started the long day's adventure by walking into Paddington station to find the bronze statue of Paddington the bear.  Right beside it is the bench that was painted with Paddington the bear on it. The bench itself looks like it is a folded up book. It is irresistibly adorable. I was not the only adult that wanted my picture taken with him.

Going on a road trip we found were the buses left from and were on our way to where the Beatles Recorded. We went to Abbey Road. I had to have my picture taken on that same cross walk where George, Paul, Ringo and John crossed Abbey Road. It was quite the tourist spot with people of all ages wanting to also cross that famous street. We, of course, saw Abbey Road Studios.

Abbey Road Studios

Abbey Road crossing

After satisfying our brush with fame we again hopped a bus and were off for a little light shopping in St. John's Wood. It was like a combination of Kit's Beach area in Vancouver, BC crossed with a bit of Los Angelas, CA.

The Starbucks was just a regular SB but had outside seating with we took advantage of on such a wonderful, sunny day. We spied a little dog across the street. It was a different colored little dog, with different colored feet and head then his body. The body looked a lighter colour which made it look like it had on pajamas - very cute!

We decided to go on a walking tour. We got the tour out of a book that my Sister lent us, from when she came to London.

We were in old town London, in the Barbican Area. Some of this are is well preserve, some of it got bombed out during the Wars. We saw Saint Bartholomew's church that was founded in 1123. We saw the huge building that was the East meat market. It looked like a huge, brick building with a rounded top. Must have been Victorian.

We also saw Saint Bartholomew's hospital and cut through by a surrounding fountain. We took a shortcut through Post man's Park. Another interesting thing we saw on our walk was the old wall that surrounded very old city of London back when the Romans were first there. There are lots of new skyscraper type, modern buildings in downtown London, the part that used to be the old town.

We also decided to go into the London Museum which gave a history of the city from the time of the Romans right through to the 60s and 70s.

Then we found ourselves over by the River Thames and crossing the Tower Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in the world.

We saw Tower Bridge from many angles including in a park down below the bridge. That's when we walked around the Tower of London and all of the buildings that surround it including moats and a drawbridge with Beefeaters posing in the entrance way. We were taking the bus to Harrods, never did make it there by the way. We got sidetracked for one thing by the Courtauld Institute of Art. It is an amazing old building or buildings with a massive courtyard. We did get as far as Strand Area London where the London School of Economics is located. That is where Mick Jagger attended, back in the day. Then we realized we weren't going to make it all the way to Harrods before it closed we decided to somehow get ourselves to Pattington Station. Before we did that we walked to Trafalgar Square once again. There had been a Pride Celebration in the area. If the amount of people and the amount of rubbish in the street is any indication of the great party that had happened early, I would say a wonderful time was had by one and all.

We found a pub, that was part of the part of the Wetherspoon pub chain we discovered in Ireland. Quick stop for  pint.

The Savoy in London

When we arrived home I for one was exhausted and felt I could sleep forever.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

We had such a wonderful, long day yesterday! Alas, I went to bed with my rib hurting badly along with my feet and legs. I must have overdone it yesterday. It was almost scary. I have to stay in today and rest. I have to get better in order to continue having those great days in the sun. At least in rained here for part of the morning and afternoon. Ken went out for awhile, I certainly would go out if I could.

I tried to go do something, walking wise and got about a block from here. I had to turn around and come back and Ken continued on.

Later on in the evening we both walked to a Hotel. We wanted to see what a hotel like that was like. It was a small, basic room with an ensuite bathroom. It was clean. You paid less if the room had no window. It would be a good option if you found yourself somewhere without being able to book a B&B or your reservation fell through. The manager of the Paddington Hotel was wonderfully helpful and friendly.

I spent most of the day in bed, with hours of sleeping. That should help, although at supper I did not feel that great either.

Ken spent hours trying to find us accommodation in the next place we are off to. We want to enter continental Europe in Holland. He looked at Amsterdam, The Hague and Ultrect, finally finding something in The Hague. He also arranged our flight to the airport there. This was not small task. It took him hours of sorting through sites listing accomodation.

Hope I can get back to my old self soon.

Monday, June 29, 2015

I am afraid any adventures I have today will be in my dreams. I must confine myself to my little room and to my bed. My rib seems almost worse than yesterday, not sure why. Certain movements are almost excruciating and cause me to gasp letting the world know something hurts. My stomach seems kind of swollen or maybe I have just eaten too much lately. I do feel uncomfortable, also with sore feet that seem to be improving. I did blog stuff and bills in the morning. The afternoon was doing Spanish or sleeping.

Ken had real life adventures by himself. He went to a music store to trade in CDs he had collected. He had already recorded those CDs then when he traded them in he had different CDs. He did that little exchange/record scenario twice yesterday. He will have lots more wonderful music to listen to in the future. Then tomorrow he will exchange the last of the CDs back to the store for a very limited amount of cash, but that is ok because now he has tons more music for very little investment.

We ate at the cafeteria. The suppers are not as appealing as the breakfasts but wow do you ever get lots of food.

I needed to go for a walk in the evening. Summer evening walks in London are precious, especially when the weather is warm and dry. People were having supper and drinks out in sidewalk cafes. Near Paddington Station people were scurrying about with their luggage in tow.

I am hoping that tomorrow I will be able to be part of the outdoor, summer frenzy of London.

This pub claims to be the source of the mold for Fleming's work

London has such history. Paddington Bear and this place Ken tripped over looking for ice packs for my foot. The lab where pencillan was discovered as an antibiotic. It is now Fleming's Museum.

The park in front of our dorm.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I was almost afraid to get up this morning, hoping I was not worse or still feeling badly. I really wanted to get out and about rather than stay resting for one more day. Once up I found myself not miraculously cured but on the mend - rib and feet are improving after the two days rest.

Ken is really good at figuring out how to get us around the city either by Tube or by bus or, in this case, using both modes of transportation. Being still a bit wibbly, wobbly on my feet, Ken very gallantly assisted me on and off vehicles and through the subway stations.

The British Museum was our major attraction for the day. It is free...Hurrah! The look of the building from the outside - very gigantic and also very Greek.

There were lots of people milling around outside, we thought there would be a line-up to get in but there was not. Once inside you were again blown away by the enormity - the entrance way and the rooms you could see into along with the stairways. We asked someone who works at the museum if this was a busy day or if it gets busier. Oh, it gets much busier we were told.

The exhibits were overwhelming. You could take weeks to fully investigate this place. We went to the ancient Mesopotamian/Egyptian exhibit. We saw mummies and plenty of them. I had imagined only a couple survived. They were in all sizes and in obviously different category of person. Even animals. It was amazing. Then we went to where there were parts of walls that had Egyptian relief on them. Magnificent and well preserved. It was all so overwhelming, in a good way. It was obvious we needed much more time to explore and we just had to do a very small portion of the museum. We, of course, had to see what was in the Mexican exhibit. Some of the items, well we had seen similar in Mexico like the turquoise masks. It was truly a very small representation compared to what we have seen in Mexico. There were some Mayan relief pieces that were spectacular.

The Rosetta Stone

Crystal Skull

Lunch next at another Govinda's, similar to Dublin's. It is run by the Hari Krishna group.

Moving on from Soho we found ourselves at Harrods department store. Huge and stately on the outside, even more amazing on the inside. Each department had its own little section (I use the word "little" loosely because little it was not). On the fifth floor, for example was "shoe heaven" or woman's shoes. Each designer had their own section or room for their type of shoes, like Manolo Blahnik or Gucci. Shoe prices, well, I saw some on sales over £700. Ken talked to two different sales clerks who were very friendly and not snooty at all, seriously. We saw couches for over £7000. and dining room chairs, for one over £750. I saw a men's jersey, collared golf shirt for about £295. All the products were of exceptional quality, of course. The elevator or lift was trimmed in copper. The candy section was a room that looked like it stepped out of the 1800's, loved it.

Herrods Department Store

Having not done much for awhile I was exhausted early and needed to come home. I really wanted to continue and soak in all of London that I could absorb but I knew that was foolish. Instead we came back to our room and packed, readying outselves for our early departure tomorrow.

Ken went out for a beer with an old college friend of his, Chris, who happened to be in London, returning to Bath from Barcelona.

Ken made it home before dark and we readied for the next day of travel.

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