If you read about our rough start in London, you’ll be happy to hear that day two of our trip was much better. As is family tradition, we began the day by taking a self-portrait in the hotel room before heading down for breakfast.
Those jeans and jacket that Torri is wearing? Both were purchases we made on Oxford Street the night before. The good news is that Torri’s suitcase would indeed arrive at the hotel later that day, a full thirty-six hours after our flight landed.
First up on the itinerary for day two was a double-Decker bus ride into the city of Westminster to tour Westminster Abbey. Our particular bus was somewhat of a “museum on wheels” in that it was an antique bus. Isn’t it cute?
The bus ride alone was very interesting. Driving through the city, our local guide was able to point out several sights of interest, including Trafalgar Square and the BBC headquarters building. He also noted the purple banners, hung to commemorate the 60 year anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
Our destination that morning was Westminster Abbey. Our route to get there took us right past the Houses of Parliament and gave us an up-close view of the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben). I snapped this picture as we approached because I loved the shot of Union Jack waving with the Westminster tube station there in the background. Quintessential London, right?
Once we actually arrived at Westminster Abbey, neither Torri nor I were terribly excited to get off the bus; it was really cold that day (and most every day of our trip, actually). But we were nothing if not adventurers on this trip, so we buttoned our coats and headed out. One of the perks of traveling with Adventures by Disney was that they were great about giving us plenty of opportunities to take photos. Before we went in to the Abbey, we marched across the street for a prime photo spot with Big Ben in the background. Here, Torri and I are pictured with another of the three mother/daughter pairs traveling with Adventures by Disney. We didn’t know it yet, but they’d quickly become our fast friends. We spent a lot of time with these two during our trip!
If the photo looks a little shaky, it wasn’t the fault of the photographer. The wind that morning was fierce; both Torri and I struggled to stop shivering long enough to be still for a photo. Once all of the families had been photographed, we went back across the street for our tour of the Abbey. Unfortunately, photos were not permitted inside Westminster Abbey, but I have several exterior pictures to share.
Our tour of Westminster Abbey was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. Having recently watched part of Prince William’s wedding, as well as having watched Princess Diana’s funeral on TV years ago, Westminster Abbey seemed somewhat familiar. What you don’t realize when you watch royal events on TV, though, is that this place is simply gargantuan. It’s huge. There are all of these corridors and rooms and nooks off to the sides of the main chapel area. And in the very front part of the Abbey there was this room behind a glass wall that housed the throne on which kings and queens are seated during a coronation. Also interesting to me was the fact that several thousand people are buried within Westminster Abbey, including Charles Dickens. You can’t hardly take a step without passing over a grave. There are also several tombs within the Abbey, many of which feature a full scale statue of the deceased lying atop the tomb.
After we left Westminster Abbey, we walked through one of the Royal Parks. We stopped there for another photo op.
On the day we visited, the changing of the guard ceremony was somewhat super-sized. The Royal Guard was busy preparing for the Trooping of the Colours ceremony. We were able to stake out a spot along The Mall that leads to Buckingham Palace. We watched as several soldiers paraded past, many on horseback.
Our guide, Stephen, told us that we might catch a glimpse of Prince Charles himself. Sure enough, Prince Charles did indeed ride past us on a black horse. He can be identified by the blue sash he’s wearing.
After the processional passed, we walked along The Mall for a view of Buckingham Palace.
After our full morning of touring, we enjoyed a fabulous buffet lunch at Harrods. And then, in spite of the state of our stuffed bellies, Torri and I left Harrods and headed straight to The Grosvenor Hotel for our high tea reservation. We had originally booked tea for our first afternoon in London, but when our flight was delayed, this was the only time we could re-book for. Not wanting to miss proper English tea, we suffered through three-courses of supremely delicious crustless sandwiches, pastries and scones with clotted cream. It was so much fun! Excuse the blurry picture, it’s the best our server could do, apparently.
We finished the evening off with a visit to London’s Novello Theatre. Mamma Mia! was the perfect ending to our first full day in London.