The first weekend of October was the perfect time to take a quick jet across the North Sea to visit one of the cities near the top of our list…London! Although we had a few travel difficulties (flight delayed, cancelled, then delayed again), we were able to enjoy beautiful, crisp fall weather and visit some of London’s most iconic landmarks.
As London is expensive, we tried to be travel savvy and stay in a more reasonable part of the city at Canary Wharf. Mostly a business area, it was surprisingly hopping at night and we became expert riders of the Tube. We visited the Tower Bridge on our first night, viewing the impressive structure from a neighboring bridge as well as walking across it ourselves. After treating ourselves to some of London’s fine cuisine (just kidding we chowed on Indian food and loved it), we took a stroll along the Thames and was able to capture an incredible picture of the London Eye from across the river. It’s one of our favorite travel pictures to date!
On Saturday, we packed the camera and headed back into the heart of the city for a day full of touristy sightseeing. Even though we arrived at Westminster Abbey right when it opened, there was already a huge line of people waiting to get in. The wait was worth it once we got inside as the abbey was beautiful and although they had a no picture policy in the church we were able to take a few in the arches of the courtyard. The most surprising part of Westminster was the number of famous people buried within the abbey or memorialized on the walls/floors. Along with the famed Kings and Queens of Britain, we saw the graves of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. There was also a whole section of the church dedicated as Poets Corner, memorializing the likes of Jane Austen, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens and many more. We passed by ‘Britain’s oldest door’ from the 1050’s when we took a peak into the oldest part of the abbey.
After spending a few hours in Westminster, we walked towards St. Paul’s Cathedral, stopping for lunch at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a really cool old pub that has been around for centuries. Literary greats like Tennyson, Twain, Dickens Yeats and more were known to hang out there throughout the years. We had some traditional English fare (fish n chips for Corey and steak & ale pie for Jon) and admired the basement bar before heading off to our next destination.
St. Paul’s Cathedral stands out with its impressive dome, sitting on the highest point of London. Our favorite part of the interior was standing underneath the great dome (one of the largest in the world) and staring at the tiled mosaics high above us. We also braved the 500+ steps to the top of the dome’s viewing tower to see a spectacular view of the city. We spent some time in the creepy crypt in the basement, admiring the tombs of past rulers and famous seafarers of Britain.
Our Sunday in London was dedicated to enjoying the splendor of Buckingham Palace and the surrounding gardens. After a tasty breakfast in St. James Park overlooking the pond filled with swans and other interesting birds, we followed the massive crowd to the palace. Thousands and thousands of people milled about, all jostling to get a good position to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony. We watched the incoming procession of palace guards with their tall black hats and bright red uniforms from across the palace circle. Later on we squeezed our way up to the fountain at the center of the circle directly in front of the palace to watch the guards trot back to their barracks down the street. It was a cultural wonder, filled with music and precise movements by each guard. Easily one of our favorite experiences in London! After the ceremony was over we also had a chance to visit neighboring Hyde Park to admire the rose gardens.
Although our trip to London was quick, we enjoyed the weekend and have a feeling we will be returning at some point!