It's been a long time since my last post but for good reason. Logan and I just returned from a 12 day, adult only, trip to London and Paris. We did 6 full days in London and 3 days in Paris, and then a few travel days. While in London we stayed with my friend Alley and her significant other Adam, and they were wonderful hosts.
Today's post is a bit lengthy but here are my top five events, in no particular order, from London.
#1 London’s Parks (St. Mary’s Gardens & Kensington Park)
If you love the outdoors and beautifully manicured open spaces, London will not disappoint. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many beautiful parks in my life and they are literally EVERYWHERE. There are so many to choose from, St. James Park, Hyde Park, Victoria Park, etc. My two favorite parks were Regent’s Park, specifically the rose gardens and the boating lake, and Kensington park. As we strolled through Regeant’s Park on a Sunday afternoon we witnessed numerous children and families picnicking, as well as structured sport practices taking places. The London Zoo is also located nearby but we didn’t check it out but it sounds like a great place to visit.
My second favorite park, in which we spent at least 2.5 hours in, was Kensington Park/Gardens. This is a HUGE park and not only does it house Kensington Palace, but has numerous playgrounds including Princess Dianna’s playground which we weren’t allowed to checkout because we didn’t have children with us. You will find several gardens, two lakes, row boats, picnicking areas, walking paths, etc. It also has the Peter Pan statue and Princess Diana’s Memorial fountain, which is more like a large paddling pool that children of all ages were playing in.
#2 Buckingham Palace & The Royal Mews
We did watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace but honestly it was not something that stands out in my mind at all. Truth be told it was kind of a waist of time but it’s what you are supposed to take in and do while in London so we did.
Afterwards we wondered over to the Royal Mews where they keep all the horses and the carriages used by the queen, and all the previous royals. We did a walking tour with a guide and really enjoyed our time there.
This carriage is mostly used by the queen for state affairs.
This is the gold state coach and it is massive. It’s the oldest coach, mid-18th century. It is so heavy that it takes them two days to prepare it and get it out of it’s holding facility. This has been used for every coronation since the mid-18th century and also for the jubilee celebration. The heavy coach needs 8 horses to pull and 4 riders to pull it. It is heavy due to it’s wooden frame as well as the luxurious gold decor.
This is me practicing my royal wave.
The Royal Mews also has a daycare area to drop of your children if you are visiting with them. I know my girls would have loved seeing all the carriages though.
3) Live Theater
We were fortunate enough to see two different shows while in London. The first was at the Shakespeare Globe Theater, which also included a tour with the guide of the actual theater and learning about Shakespearean times. I have always appreciated Shakespeare, though I don’t always understand it all, and have read/seen quite a few of his plays. What I grew to appreciate even more is how talented he truly was. His plays are written so that both the rich and the peasants would be able to identify with the story. As you can imagine this would be very difficult as the two classes were leading such extraordinarily different daily lives. In watching The Taming of the Shrew, which I didn’t know much about except that it was a comedy and 10 Things I Hate About You is loosely based on it, I recognized how the play is actually very tragic. It depicts and questions women’s roles in society. I was devastated by the fact that the “Shrew”, the young woman with her own view of the world, what being a women men’s, and a strong will, gets tamed by a man. Sure Shakespeare made it funny but I wonder how many people left the play years ago, and thought that’s not right.
The second performance we went to has been on my wish list for some time, Les Miserables . We didn’t purchased tickets ahead of time, so we were super fortunate to get standing tickets for our last evening in London. The show was completely sold out but when we went to Lancaster metro station to buy daily discounted priced tickets the gentleman saw how disappointed I was that he told that us that if we went straight to the box office they sell a few standing only seats if the show is sold out. We both got tickets for $30 pounds!!!!! The show did not disappoint! The stage, the actors, the singing, the story, all blew my expectations out of the water. It’s such a beautiful story of love, human devotion, kindness, empathy, overcoming obstacles, and also a time piece representing the class system that once existed and how that impacted human character. If you get a chance, it’s a must see!!!!
4) Tower of London
We spent 4.5 hours here!!!!! Honestly there was so much to see and learn at this place that we could have spent more time but we were meeting up with our friends for drinks so we scooted out of there. One thing we didn’t do, but wished we had, was get the audio tower for the towers. We did however enjoy a enactment of the peasants charging the tower and a tour of the white tower. Anytime we could we joined a tour because you learn so much and they always add so many antidotes that make the place come to life. We saw the crown jewels, totally worth the 45-minute wait, and even purchased a broche for my grandmother from the gift shop. We saw the etchings of prisoners who were kept captive in the ‘prison’ tower. Some of the prisoners were held for their whole lives, others were kept until they were beheaded, while others still had lush accommodations if they were of royalty and were just kept until a ransom was paid.
What we found interesting about this location is that it was where the London Zoo actually originated! When the wealthy would come to see visit the king they would bring exotic animals as a gift, which came to be known as the Royal Beasts. The tower saw an elephant, snakes, lion (this is were the lions found in Trafalgar Square were sketched), ostrich, monkeys, etc. At the time the guards did not know how to take care of the animals so they were left to roam around the tower and they struggled to feed them as they didn’t understand their diet. They fed the elephant wine daily, stray dogs to the lion, and nails to the ostrich because they were told it needed ‘iron’. People began visiting the tower to see the exotic animals but after several attacks on humans they realized that they needed to contain the animals and they were relocated to what is now the London Zoo!!!!
Abby was worth the visit and it’s absolutely stunning in it’s architecture as
well as it’s history of people who have come to worship, carnations, wedding,
baptisms, and the ones who are laid to rest there. We took the audio guide and it provided us
with a wealth of information. As we
walked through the abbey its difficult to take all that it’s made up of, the
art, stain glass ceilings, the tombs and the statues that represent the ones
laid to rest there, the architecture of the church itself, etc. The coronation chair is also seen at the end
of the tour and I have to say was not grand as I had envisioned it but then
again it’s 720 years old!!!!!
There are so many things to see and do in
London and of course we didn’t get to it all.
We did go down to the famous Borough
Market but after a
half an hour we wandered off into Notting Hill and enjoyed the quite
neighborhood rather than the jam packed busy street filled with vendors. We ate and drank in fancier and local pubs. We took in a roof top movie with the locals. . I did a little bit, very little, shopping on
Oxford street and found a new store that I absolutely loved, M & S (Mark
& Spencer) and I just found that they do ship to Canada but haven’t
explored it yet.
Thanks for stopping by.