Monday 4th June Bank Holiday for Queens' Jubilee
Well here we are in London and right in the middle of the Queen's 60th Jubilee. Totally by chance that this happened but still a great time to be there. She came to the throne when I was born and it was also my 60th Jubilee of my birthday in February. The crowds are huge!!!! All decked out in their red, white and blue and bunting makes the festivities everywhere look something like what you see when WWII ended. It is such a fun place to be even though it is wet, windy and cold a lot of the time. So many umbrella shops in London. Back to "our Local" as we are calling the Pub, for our English breakfast. Just as well we are only in London for a short time as we soon won't fit our clothes with all these English Pub Meals which are just so yummy and irrisistable. After breakfast we got the tube at Bayswater Station, just up the road and went in to the Westminster Station. That was fun but the most unfortable moment for Des and I in London, happened as we came up the stairs from the tube station at Westminster to the incredible sight before our eyes of Big Ben and the houses of Parliment surrounding it. We just were not expecting this amazing site. Here it is in all its glory and Westminster Abbey just beside it as well. OMG we just stood and gaped at the sight. The opulence! We walked around that area and then walked over Westminster Bridge to go to our Champagne trip on the London Eye which was right there also. Although it had been dull and murky, as we boarded the London Eye for our trip and Champagne experience, the sun suddenly came out for us and stayed with us through the half hour we were on the Eye. What a wonderful way to see London... sipping Champagne while looking at the amazing view of London high up. We could see most sights except London Bridge. That however, we later saw and thought Nah! that really was pretty ordinary compared to so many of the other bridges on the Thames. That was a bit of a let down. Maybe next time they build it, and it has been rebuilt a few times, they will make it have some WOW factors.
We then had a three hour trip on the "Hop on Hop off" bus which we had booked for 2 days from New Zealand. Anyone reading this blog for info on what to do in London, may I suggest you don't do that. It was cheaper and quicker to go by tube to everywhere. It was good for orientation but to do the complete circuit in Jubilee stop start traffic, was actually really time wasting, when you only have 3 days there. If we had chosen to get off at some of the cool sights we passed, we could have been waiting a long time for the next bus to take us further on. Because of this we have missed going to many places e.g. Harrods, St Pauls Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and the changing of the Guards. This just means WE HAVE TO GO BACK EH. Next time, we will spend a week in London and hopefully the Queen will be staying at home that week and there won't be so many people in town. We did pass Buckingham Palace and could see in at all the preparation for the Queen's concert in the Palace grounds that was happening that night and would be screened worldwide. We did see him and also, on a big screen, as we passed slowly by in the traffic, Sir Paul MacCartney practising right there. He always was my heart throb when I was a teenager in the 1960's. I had him plastered all over my bedroom walls in those days. I never cared much for the other Beatles. So that was pretty special to see him in the flesh, so to speak.
As we travelled around in the double decker bus, we have never seen so many Police, Policecars, People, Ambulances, Guards and Security. What a nightmare it all must be to arrange anything to do with organisation and security for Royalty. We were so impressed with our bus driver doing such a great job of manoevering through all this safely and never getting upset or stressed. Glad it wasn't us driving in London.
Next, was our boat trip up the river Thames. Both this and the London Eye were part of a great deal along with high tea at the Orangery in Kensington Gardens, Lisa had booked for us, with our accommodation in London. Well we had to do this all in our short visit to London of course. The boat trip was a nice way to see London too, although it was not long enough. On reflection, I would probably look at all the different boat trips up the Thames and all the different double decker bus trips that are available when I got to London next time so you are not STUCK with one company who may not be as good perhaps. They all do good deals and some look better than what we experienced. Just something to keep in the back of our minds for next time we think.
Back to our "local Pub" for yet another meal. How boring you may say but hell it was soooooo goood. They were so friendly too and it was soooo warm in there. Yep, summer in London is a good time to find a really warm pub to sit in away from the cold wind and rain. We Knew how to get to it and how to get back to the Hotel by then, needless to say and we had by now eaten our way through Singapore, Italy and Switzerland, always eating at different places so we needed some same same by then I think. Off to our cosy hotel to settle down and watch the concert on TV just like you all did here in NZ I am sure. For us, it was about 1 mile down the road. It absolutely brought that home to us when the fireworks went off in the show and we were watching it live and hearing them outside just as loudly. Normally we are thousands of miles away from Royal festivities and certianly do not hear the fireworks right outside. Wow that was a bit like seeing Big Ben in a way as it really brought it home to us... here we were... these little old Kiwis finally here in London!