Faith and Claire and I took the train into London the morning of July 21, and had a whirlwind Saturday there. :)
First, we hopped on the Big Bus and rode around for several hours. It was Faith's first trip to London, and we wanted to give her a good overview since we had just one day there.
London is so colorful and exciting right now ... full of leftover decorations from the Jubilee, and now layered with Olympic celebration and energy.
We got off the Big Bus and had lunch at Carnaby Street, then hopped back on another Big Bus. You can do that, which is the beauty of the Big Bus.
It's fun to sit on top of the bus and see the city from up high. :)
Piccadilly Circus was hopping.
As we drove through the West End, Faith and I got the giggles trying to figure out how they've turned Chariots of Fire into a musical.
Maybe there is a conveyor belt.
Did I mention Claire has gone horse-crazy lately?
I know how this feels because I was also horse-crazy when I was nine.
Some interesting architectural juxtapositions in London.
Things get a bit classier as you move south toward Trafalgar square and into Whitehall and Westminster in general. :)
Here's Lord Nelson presiding over Trafalgar Square. (I've done this Big Bus tour a couple times before ... there are some more detailed photos and chatting about it all here.)
Hey, if you've watched any of the Olympic beach volleyball, it's happening here, inside Horse Guards.
Number 10 Downing Street is down there behind the gates. It's the first doorway of that black building. If you'd like a closer view, you can take a virtual tour of Number 10 here.
Look at all those pesky tourists.
Here's the Cenotaph. It's the war memorial where the national Service of Remembrance is held on Remembrance Sunday.
And here's Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs building. No American Fried Chicken here. No, siree.
This next one is a bit blurry because we were careening around the roundabout when I took it, but it's lovely Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, with St Margaret's Church and Westminster Abbey behind him.
I think I mentioned last time that this statue of Churchill has a small electrical current in it, to keep the birds off. :)
Next time somebody mentions Big Ben to you, look really disgusted and say in a Hermione-type voice, "Oh, do you mean the Elizabeth Tower?"
The bell inside is Big Ben. The tower itself was called the Clock Tower (even though everybody called it the whole thing "Big Ben"), but has just been officially been renamed the Elizabeth Tower for the Queen's Jubilee.
I wrote about the London Eye here last year.
Here is a shot of St Paul's from the top of the bus.
One guess as to who designed St Paul's after the Great Fire of of 1666.
Oh, just LOOK how pretty. The Tower Bridge is wearing its Olympic jewelry.
Here's The Shard. It's the tallest building in Europe, and was just completed in April. As you might imagine, it's been somewhat controversial. Qatari investors have an eighty percent stake in it.
Now this is more like it.
We hopped off the Big Bus at the Tower of London, and took a self-guided and quick tour of it. There was a big music festival going on in the moat.
These guys are guarding the Crown Jewels, and also the Olympic and Paralympic medals.
We went inside and saw the Crown Jewels. They've redone the display since I last visited, and it's very nice. We couldn't take any photos, but I can describe them to you: they're beautiful. The Imperial State Crown is my favorite.
Here's the Salt Tower. It would be a relatively nice tower to be imprisoned in because it has a big window and fireplace inside it.
After the Tower of London, we hopped on a boat (the ticket comes with your Big Bus Tour) and went back up the Thames to Westminster Pier. That's a very nice journey.
Then we walked over to look at Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. It was late afternoon, and this was a lovely, leisurely walk after our bus tour.
That's London done, then.
So we went and ate some dinner, and walked over to the Apollo Victoria Theatre and saw the musical Wicked.
It is so good, and Claire is still talking about it.
What a packed, fun day that was. :)