Greetings from London!
We had a pretty packed afternoon with seeing some of the major sights of London today. Already it is obvious that having the extra time will be a great blessing for us. After sleeping off the jet lag, we got into the apartment we are staying at in Chelsea around noon. We rented the apartment through homefromhome.co.uk, and I would highly recommend this company. We got settled in a bit, and then my aunt Lisa showed us the basics including how to use the subway/bus system. She then escorted us to the various things we saw today. It is extremely nice having someone who knows her way around so we don’t have to spend too much time figuring that out on our own. Here is a breakdown of the sights we saw:
First up was Westminster Abbey. One of the hallmarks of London, this was a pretty amazing church to walk through. All I really new about Westminster was that it was the church where coronations and royal weddings took place. Before we even started, I knew I was going to love learning about the history of the church. We did an audio tour to learn about the history of the church. I was amazed at how many people were buried in the church and at the amount of memorials (ranging from a simple plaque to an intricate statue). We saw the tombs of the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Queen Elizabeth I and Henry III. The building itself was a sight to behold, as the elaborate architecture and numerous chapels are striking. Most notable was the Lady Chapel built by King Henry III, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Next on the tour was Big Ben. This was near the top of my list of things to do in London, and really the start of my London obsession. I’ve had a picture hanging in my room of a red telephone booth with Big Ben in the background since I was 10, and ever since I have wanted to get that exact picture. Well, as you can see, my dream came true today 🙂 As an aside, one of my favorite parts of the picture is the girl walking by giving me that look of “how stereotypical tourist can you get?” Yes, I realize it is touristy, I realize it is stereotypical, but I don’t care. It was more than worth it.
After Big Ben, we walked through Horse Park and St. James Park to get to Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace was cool seeing in person, as I had only ever seen it as the finale of sorts in the royal wedding of William and Kate. We got to see the guards with their bearskin hats not moving an inch. I’m amazed at how they are able to do that.
I was sure hoping that the Queen would invite us in for tea, but alas, she did not. Therefore, we had to “settle” for our afternoon tea. I say “settle” with quotations because this was also a bucket list item I wanted to do: have an afternoon tea. The place we stopped had nothing to complain about. It is called Caffe Concerto, a rather upscale little restaurant and bar. My aunt and I had tea while Kate had a Mocha. My mom (she wasn’t thrilled to be in this picture, but she was sitting in the perfect spot for one so I took it anyway), though, was the winner with the best hot chocolate we have ever had. Definitely would recommend this place. Check it out here: caffeconcerto.co.uk
Once we were done with our afternoon break, we started walking toward the restaurant we were going to be eating at for dinner. Along the way, we walked around Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of London. We also saw Regents Road, beautifully lit up. I didn’t think we would be able to see Piccadilly Circus so that was a great surprise.
We ate dinner at La Porchetta Pollo Italian Restaurant in Soho. This was a great little mom and pop type Italian restaurant. The food was delicious and the portions were good. The prices were also reasonable, and the staff was very welcoming and friendly. Check them out at: laporchetta.net
Being a huge Harry Potter fan, we happened to come across the Harry Potter Theater. So naturally I had to take a picture at it since we can’t see a show while here. I also got to ride my first double decker bus, another must-do London item on the list.
Here are other random pics from throughout the day.
All-in-all, this was a fantastic day of sight seeing. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!