You don't think you have heard the last about this trip do you?
We had a 7-1/2 hour layover in London on the way back from Africa. Before we left John and I were researching the possibility that we could run into London for a few hours during our layover. While many people who had been there said it couldn't be done the internet assured us it could be and we would not be detered. We aren't world travelers, we won't be getting back to London for many years if ever, this was our chance. I didn't necessarily want to go tour a museum I just wanted to get into town, breath the London air, eat some food and get back to the airport.
Ultimately we decided that we would make Westminster our main priority. One other family on our team also went into town. They had lived there previously and said London has great signs and it was easy to get around and hard to get lost. After getting to Westminster together we decided to part. They wanted to go inside, we just wanted to look around they city. Already in the train ride to town we had spent about half of what we spent during the 2 weeks in Kenya and the cost to get inside Westminster is pretty high. The outside was very impressive. Actually Westminster Abbey which is next to it was impressive and until we got around the corner we thought that was the main attraction. The abbey was free to go into so we did get a little peak at what it might be like.
After parting from the other part of our group I saw a sign for Buckingham Palace and thought it would be a great second stop on the tour. It turned out to be quit a long walk but a great one. We made a few wrong turns sending us down charming streets that are just what your London dreams are made of, cute shops, brick roads, flowers and beautiful architecture. Of course we were thrilled to see a familiar sight in Starbucks and couldn't pass by without getting a little morning treat. It was a good thing. Everywhere we turned there was another fabulous thing beatiful scenery, gardens, statues and architecture, we finally had to take the camera from Jake because he couldn't stop snapping pictures of everything he saw.
We arrived from the back of the Palace and I saw a gift shop. I went in intending to just get a little $5 trinket but then I saw it. The royal china. I HAD to have a tea cup. Didn't I? Can you imagine a reason why I would not spend what turned out to be almost $60 after the exchange rate was calculated on a tea cup in London? Neither could I! Fabulous. My biggest regret is that I didn't buy 2. Isabelle was asleep in the backpack when I bought it but claimed it as her own as soon as she woke up and discovered it. Around the corner from the gift shop was the main gate to Buckingham Palace. Beautiful, exciting, thrilling. Breathing the air, pinching myself that on top of everything else we have just experienced we are now in London seeing all its amazing sights. Trying not to dwell on the extreme differences in locations.
I thought we might feel like crazy tourists walking with a camera around our neck and a child on John's back but on a Saturday morning in London apparently Everyone is a tourist. We were not alone with a camera around our neck walking the streets, I think we actually would have been out of place without one. If we had another 30 minutes I might have tried to drag my family another 1/2 mile to Harrod's but we decided it was just too far to risk missing our flight. We walked back through St. James Park. It was, again, a perfect English experience. We got back to our train station which was across the street from the big Museum there, forget the name, and the big ferris wheel they call "the London Eye". We grabbed a bite to eat at Quiznos (not exactly the pub food I was hoping for) and made it back to the gate moments before they started boarding. The best way to spend a 7-1/2 hour layover if you ever get a chance.
The pictures are in reverse order of our experience so if you really want to re-live it with us you have to start at the bottom. I forget Blogger does that and always download in order. Silly me.
This is actually a second Starbucks we saw on the way back to the train station. Note Isabelle has taken over possesion of my fabulous tea cup.