Day 5 - High in the Sky

Thursday, April 02, 2009
Monday. I can't get over how fast this week is flying past me. Today is the first day where it hasn't felt fantastically summery. I actually had to wear a heavy sweater! Sure, I was still able to wear sandals but the day started off windy, slightly overcast and threatening rain later this afternoon. I LOVE IT! Finally! Real English weather. After my now usual breakfast of corn flakes, tang and toast, I headed out and braved the winds. You remember how I mentioned earlier that my boss surprised with an envelope just moments before I left? Well, today was the day. Truth be told I had openened it before I left -I hate surprises. I justified by by telling myself airport security is going to ask if I packed my suitcase etc myself and not knowing what was in the envelope made me a bit uncomfy. Not that I don't trust my boss I do. Oh hell, fine. I couldn't help myself and opened it the moment I got back to the apartment after he left. Sue me. It's my present and I could do what I want!!!

About a week before I left, a couple of us had had a conversation about what I was going to do in London and the London Eye came up. I wasn't going to spend the money (approx $25-30) to ride the big wheel and said that it didn't interest me all that much. Plus I'm ... uncomfortable with heights. Well, my fantastic boss printed off a big picture of the wheel, stapled a £20 note to it with the instructions to do something I normally wouldn't - ride the wheel, he says! And have a good time. Well, when your boss tells you to do something, you do it. I made sure to leave the B&B early since everyone had told me how crazy the lineups would be. I arrived just past 9:30 and only had one person in line for tickets ahead of me. Too easy. I then headed out to queue up for the Eye, ticket in hand. There were about 20 people in front of me, no where near how many I had expected!

I eneded up in the third car/pod with about 10 other people. I would have been in the second pod but London's mayor, Boris Johnson, and a bunch of media types were ushered into the first one. I found out later that it was to announce his plans for a St. George's Day celebration. The ride was easy peasy although our car moved every once in a while due to the wind. I also felt a bit uncomfy when looking down into the centre of the eye but looking out at the city, no problem. It took slightly longer than the half hour they suggest but that was fine. My only complaint is that there is no air circulation and the sun (when it peeped out of the clouds) made the interior of the pod very very hot. Oh! And they make you jump on and off the cars while it's still moving! Thank goodness it doesn't go very fast.

I debated whether or not to walk across Westminster bridge but given the winds, I opted for the tube. Westminster station, not surprisingly, exits right outside the Parliament buildings and around the corner from the Abbey. A few shots of Big Ben and he Parliament buildings then onto the Abbey. I had told my step mother that I had no interest in going inside but since I was in the area I figured why not and was now looking forward to it. As I crossed the street and rounded St. Margaret's church, I ran into a wall of people. The massive lineups of folks waiting to get into the abbey stretched four wide (at least) from inside the main doors out to the sidewalk and was threatening to continue growing back towards the roundabout. Egads! It had been open for just over an hour by this point and it had THIS many people already waiting to get in? Um, yeah, I'll pass thanks. I didn't want to see it THAT badly. Instead a took a few quick shots of the exterior and headed down towards Trafalgar Square, curious to see what I could see along the way and with the idea I'd take a few more shots of Nelson's Column, including the north side which I missed somehow when I was there on the weekend.

I passed by a number of momuments including the Cenotaph and a sculpture dedicated to the women who served in World War II. Caught a glimpse of 10 Downing Street but couldn't get close enough to take a decent shot. Also saw a couple of horse guards changing (not the big ceremony). After that, a quick bite to eat and picked up some souvenirs for the family and friends. By the time I reached Trafalgar Square, my thoughts of more pics of the column slipped my mind and I headed down towards the river. Milla and I had explored the other side last week so I decided to see what was on this side. Wandered through yet another park (I love London's parks), this time it was Whitehall beginning near Embankment Station (I think). Almost no one here at this time of the day which was lovely. Made a quick phone call to the Admiral and then explored the park. More beautiful flowers and a plethora of statues. Lovely. My last must do for today was to find the statue of Boudicca which was supposedly near the river here somewhere. Turns out it was back near the Parliament buildings at the start of Westminster Bridge. If only I had turned around after taking my pics of Parliament. Nuts. Oh well, the walk did me good. Sadly, the light was terrible due to the increasing clouds so it's difficult to see any detail of the statue (which is quite impressive) in my photos. Ah well. Also, there were a number of tacky souvenir vendors directly below the statue which made getting a great shot almost impossible. Grrrrr.

Home again just as the rains began.

3 comments:

* (asterisk) said...

Ah, so you missed Boadicea? If only you'd crossed Westminster Bridge (or the 28 Days Later Bridge, as I call it), it's just at the other side.

Oh well. Next time!

Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, I'm so sad you passed on Westminster Abbey! I love that place and have visited it a few times, and every time I am just in awe! But I am also into kings & queens and since many of them are buried there, I was very happy to see their places of rest. There is so much history in that one abbey...You could spend a whole day there. Anyway...I'm glad you did the eye! I wouldn't have bothered, but since someone gave you the bucks, it's one of those little bonuses that sometimes come up when travelling. Cool!-

* (asterisk) said...

Ah, I came back and see I misread that last sentence or two. I wondered where the pic came from!

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