London – Day 3

Today was the official start of our touring. Our morning started with a bus tour of London.  Our first stop was Buckingham Palace.  It was raining off and on, or drizzling with some moments without anything falling from the sky.   
Queen Victoria on one side, and if you look close you can see where they broke her nose off and tried to put it back on. A little better angle from the side.
 and the other sides –

The view from the statue.
And the front gate.

This is ER – for Elizabeth.
 A guard
The horse carriage – and behind it out of the photo was a mail delivery.  So the horse and carriage deliver the mail.

This is the mail avenue that leads to the palace.

We left the palace and headed off into the city.
I love the chimneys, though I don’t want a house that needs one.

I just had to show you some art work in front of the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square.

And the monument to Lord Nelson. 
And across the square was the Admiralty Arch.
Our drive took us around Westminster, where we saw the US Embassy, though I could not get any photos as we didn’t stop.  But here is one I did take from the bus – 
And the millennium Bridge and the River.

Wonderful flowers everywhere –

Then on to St Paul’s Cathedral.  You can’t take photos inside, so I just took some outside.

And another arch with former Kings.

Barbara and I left the tour at this point as they were heading back to the hotel, and we headed to Kensington Palace, via the tube.

Walkway to the palace.
And signs for Diana’s playground and memorial.  (We didn’t make it to the memorial as the sky opened up on us as we left the Palace.) Oh well.

Boy was Victoria tiny – it was raised off the floor and the bottom of the gown would have been a foot off the ground.  
What a bassinet – 

Now Barbara and I decide to leave and possibly go to a couple more places I wanted to photograph, but as I said the sky opened on us, so after waiting for the hop on hop off bus, we changed and took the tube and headed back to our hotel.  We were damp and tired at this point.
 The back of the Tower of London.
 The tower with the Tower Bridge in the background.
After a short rest at our hotel it was time to walk to the Shard for our view of the city.
 and the views along the way.
 Hays Galleria.
And Finally – the top of the Shard.

 Barbara Silver, Cathy Foss and Marta Morris.

And I attempted to try to get sunset which didn’t cooperate – clouds and also trying to shoot through glass which has water droplets on it.  
Time for dinner, so off we went – and then back to the hotel.  Checking out in the morning and heading off on our tour.
(Looks like I am going to be running a day behind so bear with me.)


LONDON – Day 2 – part 2

Another busy day today. But lets finish up yesterday’s post.

Barbara and I left Piccadilly Circus and headed to Covent Garden.  First we came across this British Pub.

As we entered Covent Garden –

 looked like wonderful ice cream.

Remember Punch and Judy?

 which was another pub.
The ceiling –

and lots of shops of all kinds.

And there was a street performer – 
Then we headed to Westminster.
I saw this connection between two buildings.  Very interesting.

At Westminster, we headed to see Queen Elizabeth tower – where Big Ben (the bell) is located.  Of course, you know my luck, they have stopped the ringing of Big Ben while they do repairs on the building – for the next 4 years.  Scaffolding going up the tower.  Fortunately the clock face is still visible.

And Parliament Building – 
And the London Eye –

We walked around Parliament and found a statue of Churchill.

Two police officers guarding the entrance to the Parliament building.

And looking back towards the London Eye – with Parliament and Queen Elizabeth tower.

And on to Westminster Abbey.

You could not take photos inside so this will have to do.
We walked down to the river to take the boat ride back towards our hotel and had some nice views from the boat.

including a surprise –

And a close up of the London Eye – 

and gee normal things on the river – like this little boat.

The Millennium Walkway. and other views.

And the Shard –

And of course the Tower Bridge – 
which opened up for a sail boat – 

We had our meeting and dinner with the Grand Circle Program Director – and afterwards, I went back out to take a few night shots.

the Tower of London.
And finally the view of the bridge and our hotel – off to the right at the other end of the Tower Bridge.  What a perfect spot for the hotel.



LONDON – DAY 2 – part 1

Its late and I have only looked at maybe half of what I took. So I will make this a two parter.
Today was a busy day.  First after breakfast, Barbara and I met with the Grand Circle Program Director – David Sherring.  This was just to get any new information on our tour and to find out what time the meet and greet and first dinner was to happen.  After that, Barbara and I went our separate ways to satisfy our interests, with a plan to meet at lunchtime.

Off I went in search of Leadenhall Market.  Of course, I didn’t have the address only a general sense of where it should be – about a 18 minute walk from our hotel – sort of north and west.  The problem came when I tried to go using some streets that I had looked up before hand, but as I walked up I would check my progress against the street map guides posted throughout the city.  Well of course the street names that I knew – I could not find on the map.  As it turns out, the name of the street changes at some point.  Great.  So I walked about half hour only to find that I was
way north and not far enough west yet.  Great.  But in the mean time, I did find some neat British pubs and other things to photograph, so it was all good.  Here is some of those.

This is Saint Helens Bishopgate.   This ancient Church dates back to the 12th century. It is a twin-naved church with a Jacobean pulpit.  Many famous people have spoken from that pulpit.  It was restored in 1995 following damage from terrorist bombings in 1992 and 1993.

One of the places I stumbled upon – Lloyds.  Yes that Lloyds.  All the plumbing is on the outside of the building.  Not what I expected for such an institution in the insurance industry.

Then around the corner is Leadenhall Market and it was everything I expected.

Now it was time to head out to the Natural History Museum, but I am now running out of time to get there, take photos and come back to meet Barbara. So off on the Underground.  I was apprehensive about it prior to coming, but it was so easy to find my way – hop on this one – get off at x, hop on to another and whoosh – there I am. Well the underground or tube took me right to the museum. But of course, school kids are there by the dozens, so there is  a wait to get in.  No problem.  In less than 10 minutes I was in.  Now this was going to have to be quick – so 10 min in images taken, lots of people so not exactly the shots I wanted, but, what you going to do.  Love this building.

Now it is time to dash to Piccadilly Circus to meet up with Barbara.

Ahh a phone booth – then off to grab a bite of lunch.

Part 2 hopefully tomorrow.



London – Day 1

Barbara and I spent the evening flying to London.  While I didn’t get any sleep, as usual, Barbara grabbed a little bit.  We navigated the airport and took a train to Victoria Station.  From there we took a cab to our hotel.  We didn’t want to waste the day,  and we took the tube to Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanical Garden on the west side of London.  We stopped for  a bite of lunch – fish and chips at a small shop near the Kew Gardens station.  That was some piece of cod.  Notice Barbara is wearing “The Walk for the Cure” shirt from the Valencia Lakes Women’s Club.

Now full of wonderful fish, we headed towards the gardens walking by little shops like this.

Then we entered the gardens – 

This is the Palm House – An iconic Victorian glasshouse, the rainforest climate inside supports a unique collection of tropical plants from some of the most threatened environments on Earth.

The Princess of Wales Conservancy.

Amazing flowers from stones – They called them “living stones” from the Aizoaceae family.

 Beautiful water lily

Barbara in front of “The Hive”, rising   55 feet, the Hive was commissioned by the UK Government and created by artist Wolfgang Buttress. It was so unusual.  This is to help children understand the importance of the Bee Hives.

Purple flowers and wisps – I have no idea what they were – but the purple color offset by the cream colored wisps were an eye catcher.

And Bear jumped in to say HI –

We are staying in The Tower hotel – on the river right next to the Tower Bridge.  Behind our hotel was this golden boat.

The Tower Bridge opened up for the Lord Nelson sailing ship.  Unfortunately, it started to rain, later so I could not get the night shots of the Bridge.  Hopefully, tomorrow.
Exhaustion is running high.  So sleep tonight, and more adventures tomorrow.  Our tour with Grand Circle Tours really starts in two days.  Tomorrow the rest of the people on the tour will arrive, and we will meet everyone at the dinner.