It’s Doug here. I’ve just been on the most amazing adventure! My quest to tour the world has brought me to London, England. Did you know that London was founded by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago and that it covers over 600 square miles?! Today it is home to over 8 million people. That’s more people than live in all of Alberta! I decided to hit up some of the major landmarks in the area, little did I know I was in for one crazy ride…and I don’t just mean on the Underground.
I started in Trafalgar Square. This is a large concrete city park right in front of the British Art Gallery…but just because there’s no grass doesnt mean its not a beautiful place. There are important statues, spraying fountains and a large set of steps descending from the Gallery into the square for people to sit on and take a break. Right in the middle of the square is the Nelson Monument. This is a huge pillar with a statue of a man named Horatio Nelson on the top. He was a very important military leader for Britian at one point! Surrounding him are four giant lion statues. There is a legend in London that if Big Ben ever strikes 13 times in a row the lions will come to life. Some people say it’s just a myth, but I can safely say the legend speaks the truth! I had not been in Trafalgar Square more than 10 minutes (I hadn’t even had time to splash around in a fountain) when I heard the bell of Londons largest clock tower strike. It was only 9 o’clock but I found the bell kept ringing…10…11…12…13…
13! Oh no! I could see everyone’s heads turn as a great Crack! sounded, followed by 4 long, deep Roars! The lions were all rising and stretching out their great stoney legs. People seems frightened…some even screamed and ran…but I didn’t see what was so scary: they’re just big cats!? And what to cats like to play with? Yarn! Quickly gathering the hordes of tourists and Londoners, I tied all of their shoelaces together to create the worlds biggest ball of yarn. With the lions tamed they were easily persuaded back into their positions where they turned back to stone. I think London will make a statue for me next: Doug the Lion Tamer!
Crisis averted, I went on to my next stop…the Tower of London. The oldest part of the Tower was built almost 1000 years ago as a home for William the Conquerer, who was the King of England at the time. Over time each King or Queen has added to it and used it for whatever use they saw fit. Most famously it was used as a prison and execution site. King Henry the 8th kept two of his wives (he had six in the course of his life!) there when they lost their heads. I was just minding my own business exploring the exhibits when I heard a guard sound an alarm. Next thing I knew more guards were pouring through the door behind me! I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. The guards chased me past the chapel and up onto the pathway around the walls. Finally, just as I was starting to fear I might be caught and beheaded I made my escape through traitors gate. Traitors Gate is the passageway they used to bring suspected criminals through…ironic I used it to get away. I still don’t know why they were chasing me though…I don’t think anyone could mistake me for Anne Boleyn! I took refuge on the Tower Bridge and seemed to be safe. So I got into my map to find my way to my next destination.
I had heard Buckingham Palace was open for visits in the summer so hopped on the tube to get to that area. I really didnt mean to wander away from the tour route. I must have turned left when I should have gone right, or zigged when I should have zagged, but I ended up walking in on the Queen’s afternoon tea! She was very nice and offered for me to join her and her guests, the Duke & Dutchess of Cambridge…aka Will & Kate. It was a lovely visit where I learned a lot about the monarch and their lives. We ended tea with a turn about the Queens private garden. I was curious as to why the first part was so bare. She explained it was where she hosted her summer Garden Parties and assured me that next year I’d be sure to get an invitation.
Close by the Palace is Westminster Abbey. This ancient church is the final resting place of so many important people, from kings to scientists to writers. It is also where royalty is conrnated. That is the ceremony when a new King or Queen is crowned! Very cool! It’s also where a lot of members of the royal family have been married…including my new friends Will & Kate. During tea they had shown me some of their wedding photos and the place really had looked lovely! Unfortunately none of these exciting events took place while I was there, but I know my other new friend the Queen will let me know when they do. She would hate for me to miss something as important as Harry’s wedding or Will or Charlies’ coronation!
It was evening by this time so I thought I would take a walk by the river. The river Thames runns pretty much right through the middle of London and is a main reasonfor the city’s past and continued success. On the south bank for the river is the London Eye. This giant ferris wheel was built to celebrate the new millenium and has big glass bubbles that you stand in while you go around. Just as I approached the top of the wheels rotation we came to screeching halt. The wheel had started to sway! It was coming loose from its center pivot and threatening to dump us all into the Thames. I realized then what I must do. Terrifying as it was I took my first step out of the bubble. While I was perched on the thin rods holding the giant wheel together I had the most wonderful view of Big Ben & the Parliament Buildings just across the river, as well as the rest of the city! I didn’t have time to enjoy them though; there were people to save! In a flash I was in the center, tightening the wheel back into place. Balance was restored and the wheel was able to safely return all of it’s passengers (including me) to the ground.
Well, that’s all for today (luckily because I don’t know if I could take anymore excitement). I really enjoyed London & am so lucky to have got to visit here and do so many awesome things! I’ll be sure to post again soon…maybe after my next big stop!