We got to Buckingham Palace nice and early and received a time when we could enter the Palace. While waiting we wandered to the front and took numerous pictures of the Palace and the guards.
During the summer the Queen opens up her State Rooms for public viewing. These State Rooms included a music room, a gallery and many random extravagant rooms for entertaining guests. One of the coolest ones has a secret passageway that apparently goes straight to the Queens private quarters. The highlight was the Throne Room. Here is the actual throne of the Queen of England! This is also where Will & Kate had their wedding photos taken. Another highlight was the Ball Room. Here Kate’s dress is on display for the summer. It was showcased in the center of the room and the dress and detail on it was gorgeous up close. The tour of Buckingham Palace ended in the Queens private gardens out back. They started with a big flat, empty lawn. The Queen holds garden parties in this area early in the summer. Kristin wants to know what she has to do to get an invite…a garden party sounds like a smashing good time 😉 We almost found out the answer when Kristin was eavesdropping on the ladies behind us. One of them was saying she had been to one of the garden parties; to which another replied “Why were you here again? Oh yes, skating.” Bean will be on researching that one tonight!
That last photo is not of a wall to Jurassic Park, but we will not judge you for thinking so…it was our first guess too. It’s actually the fence around the Queens garden!
We left the palace at a very convient time. It was right in the middle of the changing of the guards…not so convient for catching more than a glimpse of the hoppla but extremely beneficial when we arrived at Westminster Abbey. The line was about half as long a it had been at that time the day before (and of what it was later that day) so we got in with very little wait time. Entering the abbey was a bit of a shock. You can’t really prepare yourself for how big and historic the place is. A royal church has been on these grounds for many years. Edward the Confessor build an abbey here in 1042! The Abbey here today was built by Henry III in 1245. Since then the Abbey has been the home of every coronation of the English crown. Princess Diana’s funeral was held here as well as many royal weddings. These include Queen Elizabeth II & Prince Phillip and of course Will & Kate. There are so many nooks & crannies scattered about. Everywhere you turn there is another memorial or statue or plaque. It’s amazing they’ve managed to fit some many people in! Buried within the chapel are many English monarchs. Elizabeth I, Mary I and Mary Queen of Scots were some of the ones we found most interesting. The Abbey is also the home of many English literary legends, including Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, Charles Dickens and a memorial for William Shakespeare (we’ll see his actual grave in a couple weeks). Finally there were many scientific greats within the Abbey, including Sir Issac Newton and Charles Darwin. On the way out was the grave of the Unknown Soldier. This was a particularly powerful grave marker. It talked of how all of the soldiers deserved to be buried among the kings.
We made sure to work in a break and lunch next. There was a handy stone wall right across from the Westminster Abbey entrance that we parked ourselves on. After some fruit, crackers & biscuits (or cookies if you’re not down with the British lingo) and a bit of a stretch we were rested and rejuvenated for our afternoon.
Kensington Palace has been a residence of the royal family since the 17th century. The palace was often the home of young princesses, most notably a young Queen Victoria. After the wedding of Charles and Diana, Diana lived in the Palace for the remainder of her live. Right now it is under construction so they have set up a really neat interactive exhibit throughout the unobstructed parts of the house. The goal was to find out about each of the princesses who had once resided there through displays, stories and poems. Each room was set up in a crazy “Tim Burton does Alice in Wonderland” kind of way with flashing lights and haunting voices and bodiless dresses floating about. The effect was awesome, creating an educational and yet really fun experience. Our favorite was the room for Princess Charlotte, who we had previously never heard of but now find quite intriguing…mission accomplished for the exhibit makers I guess!
We were such super tourists today that at this point we were ahead of schedule! Apparently we really have superior planning and time management skills. To fill our time Justine wanted to go to Trafalgar Square. Kristin wanted to skip right to supper. So we made the obvious choice: supper in Trafalgar Square! There is a chain of sort of healthy fast-food sandwich shops here called Pret a Manger. We stopped in the one right off the square and grabbed a couple of sandwiches and a delicious salad and ate on the steps.
Last super-sightseer-stop of the day was the British Museum. We followed a Rick Steves audio tour…we heart Rick Steves. The best part of the tour was that there was an elderly couple who was obviously also listening to Rick & ended up basically making the loop with us. It was really helpful at getting us through the sections we most wanted to see: Egypt, Assyria & Greece. We thought the stuff we had been seeing all week was old, well this just blew it all away…we’re taking BC dates now! There were many neat things in the Ancient Egypt exhibit. One of the most well known and significant things in the museum is the Rosetta Stone. This stone (about the size of medium sized TV) was discovered in the 1970’s and was used to finally translate the hieroglyphs the Egyptians used over 5000 years ago. The best part was the Ancient Greek collection from the Parthenon. Lord Elign stole all the sculptures from the Parthenon in the 1800’s and moved them to the British Museum (the Greeks are still not happy about it). Basically, in summary, there were a lot of really old things!
– London is more touristy on a Friday, but less touristy on a Friday night!
What we learned:
– We saw Faberge eggs today and did you know they are named as such because they were made by Faberge…like he was a person!
– Kristin learned how the game of crickets works (kinda)…it was one of her goals to learn this from an actual British person (not just Wikipedia)…it sounds like an awful game
Highlights of the Day:
1. Walking into Buckingham Palace & Westminster Abbey and being like “Whoa I’m in Buckingham Palace/Westminster Abbey”
2. Supper in Trafalgar Square…because we love it there!
So we wrote the first half of this wonderful post in Trafalgar Square tonight, but then Kristin got distracted making a friend in the boy who was sitting beside her on the steps so we are finishing it sitting on the stairs in the hostel (where we have wifi access). As a side note, Kristins new friend is named Jordan and he was very nice (teaching her about cricket, explaining that they do play American Football in the UK and call it just that ‘American Football’ and hatching a plan to be accomplices in stealing a helicopter).
We will finish up with an original poem by KAPadget entitled “Ode to Big Ben”
Oh Big Ben
It has been a slice
I will miss thee
Your really nice
The lemurs live in a pen
(the last line was originally ‘We will be here again’ but Justine thought it was a little anticlimactic so it was rewritten)
Love, Luck & Lemurs