European Adventure Day 1 – Big Ben, Parliament

Missed the first installment? Click here.

Weather was a little brisk as we walked from the Underground to the hotel. It got more so as we wandered down Piccadilly to kill time before a room was available. So much so that killing time turned into a futile search for a heavy coat or gloves or anything to lessen the sting of the wind. And, hey, was that sleet?

We ended up at Harrod’s. Huge does not do it justice. Pricey does not do it justice. The food court was everything I read about, including crowded, but I think we’ll make a trip back for some things to take home.

Once in our room, we determined a route to Westminster Abbey. That picture in your head of the Abbey? Get rid of it. You’re probably thinking of Westminster Cathedral or St. Paul’s Cathedral. Although the Abbey holds services, it’s more of a cemetery/memorial/tourist draw than a church.

Our hotel
Queen's at home

But I’m ahead of myself. Our hotel is right off Green Park. On the other side of the park is Buckingham Palace. Our route to Westminster took us in front of the palace. That’s when I knew I was in England. The standard flying above the palace told me the Queen was in residence. She did not come out to welcome to us to London.

We didn’t spend a lot of time at the palace. Not the best weather for pictures and we wanted to get to the Abbey. No photographs allowed inside the Abbey so the following inside shots are scanned postcards.

Westminster Abbey

The number of tomb markers and memorials is overwhelming. You can’t walk without stepping on one. The walls are covered in large and small sculptures and plaques.

Tomb of Elizabeth I
Henry VII's Lady Chapel

Throughout are large tombs of royalty. Edward II. Henry III and VII. Elizabeth I and Mary I. Mary of Scots. It was pretty impressive.

Poets Corner was neat, but had more memorials than actual tombs. Laurence Olivier is buried there though.

It would be interesting to tour underneath the Abbey. With all of the tombs, it must be like a rabbit warren there.

Grave of the Unknown Warrior
Coronation Chair

While at the Abbey, we listened to the audio tour with Jeremy Irons. He was very thorough and often concerned we wouldn’t know where to go next in the tour. Mr. Irons was also concerned about our fellow tourists and constantly reminded us to move out of the traffic flow and be aware of those around us.

Mr. Irons said we could ask the green-robed volunteers questions. I did. I don’t think the gentleman Penny and I talked to gets a lot of questions because he wanted to tell us everything. We did learn where the Queen and Prince Charles or the Duke of Edinburgh sit when they attend services.

Big Ben

After the Abbey, we walked by Big Ben and Parliament. By the Thames, the wind picked up and brought sleet and cold rain. Luckily it passed quickly, but we were freezing. We warmed up at the hotel, figured out plans for Paris and grabbed a good dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Penny and I are both tired, so we’re calling it an early night. In bed by 9.

Check out the start of our Paris sidetrip.


4 thoughts on “European Adventure Day 1 – Big Ben, Parliament

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