Friday, August 3, 2007

Trip to London

My trip to London yielded many excellent photos as I dashed about trying to take in as much as I could in the short amount of time available for sightseeing (mostly Monday afternoon). I rode a double decker tour bus, the tube (underground), trains, and a narrated river boat. I rode the London Eye (world's largest observation wheel that can hold up to a total of 800 people at a time within its glass pods) and walked about central London, viewing the parliament buildings, Big Ben, St. Margaret's Chapel, Westminster Abbey and a brief walk in Piccadilly Square.

I tried the famous fish & chips, which also came with "mushy peas" (which were not very mushy). The box is half the size of the typical packages in the U.S (so the fish was a little larger than my hand). Everything there seems to cost twice as much as it does in the U.S. A bottle of brand name shampoo that you typically buy at Walmart for $2-3 will cost roughly $6 there. Was it like that during the days of Ebenezer Scrooge? Maybe he wasn't completely without reason. A typical lunch cost ~$16. That's about as cheap as you're going to find it. Every site had centuries of history associated with it. London Bridge. St. Margaret's had people buried beneath the floor. You walk upon their epitaph. Inscriptions on the walls in memory to people from centuries before. There was a house one of Henry the 8th's wives designed for them to live in, but he did not allow her to live to see it finished. The street Mozart wrote such and such symphony. The French can ride an underground train under the channel between Britain and France; however when they arrive and first set foot in England, it is in a train terminal called Waterloo - the site where the British defeated the French in battle. St. Thomas Hospital had seven separate buildings (wards), each one accepted admits for each day of the week; but all the weekday buildings were bombed in WWII. Westminster Abbey. The London drawbrige and a ship form WWII on the Thames river (pronounced "Tim's"). It takes 90 seconds to raise. It allows ships in, but they have to pay a toll to leave. Lomdon Bridge. The original London Bridge was dismantled, moved and reassembled somewhere in Arizona. This is some ship that has sailed around the world, perhaps "The Hind". Sorry, there were so many details available and I could only take in so much so fast.
The Parliament Buildings with Big Ben (clock actually named after a short, bell shaped construction worker named Ben that helped to install it).
This is just to the left (upriver) of the parliament buildings. Whenever an official was convicted and condemned, he was escorted out of the building and down to this site on the river to take perhaps his last boat ride down the Thames to the infamous Tower of London.
The tower of London looks more like a castle.
I did not get to see much of Buckingham Palace. Apparently it is considered a major occurrence for one of the bus tour guides to spot royalty over the walls from the double decker bus (he said another operator had seen the princes playing tennis but he had never been able to catch sight of them on a tour).
One of the gates leading to Buckingham Palace.
There are old buildings and churches everywhere.
I heard someone say that 2 million people live in London; however, on any given day, there are 8 million people in the city. You know why? International visitors - tourists or on business. Whenever I went out, I was not surrounded by British people with British accents; but rather, people from a multitude of nations. Customs at Heathrow airport had longer lines than any other I've seen, and Americans were a definite minority among the Asians, Middle Easterners, and Africans in the non-European Union line. Believe it or not, after walking about London for most of the day, I slept pretty good that night.

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