Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Last Day in London

 FYI: If you are ever in London and in need of some groceries, choose a TESCO. Jacob's Aunt Pam and Uncle Jim recommended them when we said we were staying in a flat. Luckily, there was one on the corner across from where we were staying. We frequented it almost every night for snacks and breakfast items. The store was always clean and everything was always yummy!

On to more important business; Tuesday was our last full day in London. As we walked across the park on our way to the tube, I noticed these local workers smoking near the dumpster. I thought that it was weird, but then I noticed they were standing within a square (painted red) designated "smoking area". Nice. I didn't take a picture until I was sure they wouldn't notice me. It just think I would stop smoking if I was only allowed to do it in designated areas near dumpsters.

Before heading out for the day, we decided to peak in at the Underground Mall attached to our local tube station(s). Jake wanted to get an English Tie.

 The Mall was so huge! Different areas had different names for crying out loud. The different areas were designated by the 4 different transit stations that were attached. They had physical maps available for the taking at each entry. We would have never found anything in particular without them.

While Jake and Dad went to look at stuff for men, Mom and I got lost in this amazing store. It had clothing and accessories for girls/women of every age, and everything was adorable and/or beautiful. It was called Monsoon and yes, they have a website!

After we spent too much money there, and Jake had purchased his tie, we spotted a busy patisserie, Paul's. (We ended up seeing many different Paul's Bouglangerie and Patisseries all over Paris.)

I can't quite remember what Dad and Jake ate, I think apple pastries. Mom had an apricot pastry, which she ended up scraping the apricots off of because she said they were too sour. I had a delicious strawberry tart. We all ordered the hot chocolate too.

It was called "Paul's Special Hot Chocolate" and it was delicious. The thickest hot chocolate I had ever had. Notice the cup? Have you ever seen hot chocolate do that to a mug before?! It was as if it was pure melted chocolate.

 Anyway, I will stop swooning over the hot chocolate. After our morning snack, elevensies if you will, we headed out to catch the train to our last sightseeing destinations.



 It was always a little more picturesque to travel above ground.

 We had to switch trains to make sure we could end up at the Tower of London.

Mom was already freezing. Jake and Dad were attempting to shield her from the wind. When I got done with this photo, I went and stood in front of her. Poor lady.

 Some of the sights across the street from the Tower.

This area is very mixed with old and modern architecture, not to mention a large amount of traffic and tourists.

 We had stopped by the Tower on Sunday. There were tons of lines of tourists even in the cold. However, it was nice to go on a week day because there were far fewer tourists, and the largest groups were field trips of students.

 The Tower.

On a side note, London is very clean. Much cleaner than Paris. It was quite the startling contrast visiting them back to back. Cleanliness just isn't up there with enjoying life and all it has to offer. So, I just wanted to share with you how clean this bathroom was in the Tower. It was cleaner than Disney. They had even won an award for it. No joke. You are looking at the Loo of the Year from 2009.

Back to the Tower....


 There is the best view of the London Bridge from the Thames. So, while we were waiting for the tour to start, we took the opportunity to take some pics!

I'm going to sidetrack one more time, see that building that looks like a chard of glass? Well, it is. It is called "The Chard" and it was only completed and opened just a few weeks before our visit. It is now the tallest building in Europe. The apartments on the highest floors went upwards of 50 million pounds. That's over 75 million dollars. Sheesh.

Now, this what was once known as "Traitor's Gate". Traitors would be brought through the gate by boat from the Thames. That would be one sobering ride.

 If I remember correctly, Bob (our beefeating tour guide) said this was known as the "White Castle". It was the original London Palace of the Royalty of England.

See that guy in the poncho and hat? That was our tour guide, Bob. He was wonderful and hilarious. He is a Beefeater. The nickname came from the King allowing his personal guard to eat whatever he left behind at his table. Beef was too expensive for common folk back then, so they were the only ones who got to eat it regularly when it was left behind by the King. Well, the townsfolk started to dislike them and their haughtiness and began to chase them around calling out, "Beef eater!" So, that is how they got their nickname, Beefeater.

We eventually went into this building after Bob's short tour, and saw the Royal jewels.

These trees reminded me of the Whompping Willow in Harry Potter. 
I saw them all over London.

People who work at the Tower can actually live on the property. Weird, huh?

Quite honestly, I loved the tour and the jewels we saw. I hate we missed out on seeing the Royal Quarters, but we were low on time. Cathedrals were going to close!

In to see the jewels we went!

It was a very well done exhibit. Very sparkly.

We saw so many gold and bejeweled pieces!

However, my favorite was the 530.2 carat rock in the center of the Queen's septer. That is not a typo people. Five hundred and thirty point two carats. 
Very sparkly.

They had these weird wire sculptures of vicious animals sporadically placed around the Tower property. It took me awhile to realize they were to represent the many animals that had at one time lived there; probably to torture people.

By Tower! See you next time!

Back into the Underground where I read a startling statistic, and it is not exaggerated. We saw a very angry person one night upset with a tube employee who was not helping him find his phone on whatever line he had left it on. Cry me a river brother.

Westminster and Parliament is all right next to each other.

Up and down, up and down, always winding our way through the tube system. 

Hello Eye!

Jacob could only see the outside of Parliament. Taking a tour of Parliament was Jacob's only real request for our London trip. Due to the flight delays at the beginning, we missed our chance. They only run tours on Saturdays. He was pouting. We are going to send this picture to Delta and see if they take some pity on him. 

That's how Zac manipulates people.

Big Ben!

Another exceptionally busy area, even with the brutal wind.

Then onto Westminster.

The following pictures were taken illegally. No photography was to take place inside the Cathedral. Whoopsies.

The ceiling below is from the Lady Chapel in Westminster. It was the most beautiful and delicate architecture I have ever seen.

Photo provided by the Internet.

Mom loves to find misspellings. 
There had better be no misspellings on my tombstone.

After Westminster, Jake and I headed off to find food while Mom and Dad made their way to St. Paul's Cathedral. It is where Princess Diana was married. Mom loves her and wanted to go see it. Dad indulged her like the good man he is... no matter how starving he was.

Back across the street past Big Ben we went.

Past Parliament.

Past the Eye.

 Down a side street where we found, Troia. A Mediterranean restaurant... where we ended up ordering fish and chips. I know. Whatev.


 It was really pretty. I loved the lighting! And the company!

To start, I had red lentil soup, because I was basically a walking ice cube after having taken pictures of Parliament from the bridge for over 15 minutes. Jake had the most delicious calamari ever! Mom and Dad went to eat there for dinner on our recommendation but didn't like it as much as we did. Mom said the calamari wasn't crispy enough to hide the fact that she was eating squid. I tried the olives. I normally hate olives, but I thought since I was eating at a Mediterranean place and they brought olives with the bread... bleh. I have officially confirmed I am not an olive person.  


 Our fish and chips were good. Nothing to shout about.

The baklava on the other hand, definitely worth shouting about. Delicious!

We then went to meet up with my parents at the Eye.

Parliament again.

Originally, we were planning on riding the Eye. However, tickets were 30 pounds per person, and the view from our flat is phenomenal... so we decided to forgo it. 

Jake and I headed home while Mom and Dad headed to dinner. 
We passed some more Whompping Willows. 

And a carousel.

On our way to the tube we passed another really cool store and popped in.

It turns out we were in a really cool, hip area. Lots of young professionals around going to dinner, meeting friends, cooling off after work.

And at the end of the day we went home and packed for France. 
The Champs Elysees and the Eiffel Tower tomorrow!

1 comment:

Salinda said...

It's amazing that I learn things from your entries that I missed Rachel. Royal Quarters?! We missed the Royal Quarters at the Tower of London? Boo! we gotta go back. On a Saturday, so Jacob can see Parliament.