Wendy and I thought we’d spend our second day in London doing the essential touristy stuff. We began with a walking tour from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palance for the changing of the guard. We actually enjoyed the tour more than we expected. This was largely due to our guide, Rebecca, who kept us laughing the whole time. The Queen was actually home, but we didn’t get invited in for tea. Pity.
After the walking tour, we jumped on the double decker bus tour and made our way to the Tower Bridge, where we exited and walked across to the Tower of London. The Tower was really a surprise for both Wendy and me. We enjoyed the Beefeater guide who made the tour as entertaining as it was educational. We got to see the crown jewels and learned about the Dutch dike engineer who made the moat around the Tower so that it turned into a festering cesspool of stagnant sewage. (The Beefeater guide seemed to think that it was a mistake. I think maybe the Dutch mafia were making the English and offer they couldn’t refuse.)
It was cloudy, windy and cold by the time we left the tower. Back on the bus, we headed to the London Eye, where we made our “flight” around the world’s largest observation wheel. Then, it was a short walk across the Thames back to our own neighborhood. We hadn’t eaten all day, so we ducked into Sherlock Holmes Pub where Wendy got fish and chips and I had a sandwich and a pint.
We were really tired by the time we got back to our flat. Wendy observed that we’d probably walked more in one day than we had in the previous six months. Nonetheless, we had a busy evening ahead so we changed and walked to the Royal Opera House to see the Royal Ballet’s production of Swan Lake. Our seats were located in what I’d call the “Sir Edmund Hillary” section, given that we were sitting in an elevation only slightly lower than Mt. Everest’s summit. Nevertheless, we could actually see pretty well. I felt like I was sitting in a Degas painting.
As for the ballet itself, I can say that I’m gald that I experienced it once in my lifetime. I won’t be running a-tip-toe to see it again. The main story line of Swan Lake could have been told in about 90 minutes, but Tchaikovsky decided to make it three hours long so that every dancer and their extended family members could have their moment dancing in the spotlight. It was a bit like baseball in that there were breathtaking moments in the midst of long periods of tedious action – but there was no beer, no hot dogs and you couldn’t talk to you neighbors and occasionaly scream at the conductor.
We were really glad to get back to our flat and get to bed. I slept nine hours, which anyone who knows me well realizes is just this side of a miracle. I found a huge surprise in my email. My Dutch cousin, John, read that we were in London and is flying over from Amsterdam this weekend to meet us. John and I have been been corresponding through email for several years and have worked together on the family tree – but we’ve not met in person.
The itinerary for Day three includes Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, a return to the National Gallery, Covent Garden, and more pubs!
Photos (top to bottom)
- Horse Guard riding to Buckingham Palace.
- New Guard marches to relieve the Old Guard.
- Wendy smiles because it’s sunny!
- New Guard reads orders at the guard change at Chuck & Camilla’s house.
- Tower Bridge.
- Beefeater at the Tower of London.
- Tom & Wendy on the Eye of London.
- Big Ben & Houses of Parliment taken from the Eye.
- Sherlock Holmes’ Pub.
- Royal Opera House taken from our cheap seats.