After spending much of yesterday shopping, I thought that I should take advantage of my time in London to be a tourist. I never get tired of London, no matter how many times I have visited the city, and I am only too happy to see some of the same sites over and over again.
Today's agenda was fairly busy, with Westminster Abbey, Parliament Square and St Paul's on my list. Oh, and I had to pay a visit to the Bank of England in order to exchange some old pound notes (which were taken out of circulation) for new ones. The old notes are not accepted for payment.
Right then, off we go. The National Army Museum is closed until 2016 so I had to strike that off my list, making Westminister Abbey my first destination. My hotel is near Marble Arch so I could have easily taken the Underground, but I was in a bit of a hurry to get started. Also, the taxi is a good way to do a little bit of impromptu sightseeing.
We zipped past Buckingham Palace just in time to see the changing of the guard, which was a pleasant surprise. Then, just as we turned onto Birdcage Walk, a group of four policeman on motorcycles nudged past us with their lights on, service as a motorcade for someone.
"is that for you?" asked my driver. You've got to like the sense of humor of Londan cab drivers. I'm also impressed with how well they know all of the back roads and short cuts through the city. Several vans, comprising the rest of the motorcade passed us and then my driver fell in behind them.
"We will get through this traffic a little faster if we follow them." He said.
We passed Wellington Barracks, where I could a couple platoons of Guards, in khaki service kit and bearskin hats, practicing a wheeling move in the yard. I assume that the exercise had something to do with the Trouping of the Colours, which occurs in a couple more weeks.
We soon arrived at Westminster Abbey.
I hadn't been here for quite awhile, so it was almost like seeing it for the first time. There are a lot of famous people interred here, including politicians, soldiers, artists and poets, in addition to various kings and queens. No photographing allowed inside, so I could snap pictures of the monuments for General James Wolfe, Lord Ligonier, or Major John Andre among others. I also saw Queen Elizabeth I's tomb as well as that of Mary Queen of Scots nearby. It turns out that James VI / I decided that he wanted his mother to be buried here, with equal footing with Elizabeth. So even in death, Mary continues to vex Good Queen Bess.
Next, it was time to visit Parliament Square and snap some pictures of the Big Ben clock tower for my daughter, at her request:
Actually, Big Ben is in the picture at the top of this blog.
Then I scurried over to the Underground to by transport to St Paul's and back. I bought a day pass for £12 and probably got my money's worth since I used it a number of times today. I enjoy riding the Tube because it is relatively clean, fast and keeps your feet from getting too tired.
I made a quick stop at the Bank of England to exchange the old currency and then walked to St Paul's from there
I went on the self tour of St Paul's and quickly figured out that this is where Britain's famous army and navy leaders or either buried or memorialized. So St Paul's for the military heroes and Westminster Abbey for the politicians and royals.
The church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren, which makes it newer than I had thought. The inside of the dome is very amazing to behold. I declined the opportunity to climb up into the dome as I have a healthy respect for heights. Down in the Crypt, one can see the tombs of Wellington, Admiral Nelson and Christopher Wren. I bought small white resin busts of Nelson and Wellington in the shop next to the crypt.
I was getting a bit foot sore by this time and thought it best to head back to the hotel so that I could put my feet up, munch on some crisps, and quaff a cold drink. Tomorrow I will take the train from Euston Station to Coventry, where I will meet up with Phil O. Visit the new Griffin Moulds factory and take in a little more sight seeing.