Well, it looks like I'll (Lily) be responsible for blogging about the trip Mom and I took to England. Before I start, a little word about the picture quality- Mom and I make no pretentions to being good photographers and we felt the absence of our family expert (Dad) and someone who knew how to use all the settings (Dad or Gretel). Maybe next time we should have a lesson before we leave the country... ;-)
We left O'Hare airport on Thurs. evening and were able to get a direct flight to Heathrow. We flew with British Airways and wow! we really like them! :-) If you haven't flown before, don't use British Airways for your first flight. You'll be spoiled for everything else! We didn't sleep on the flight (as anticipated), but we got safely into Heathrow, got our bags, and breezed through Customs. Our flight arrived 1 hour before the rest of the group, so we got a nice caffeinated latte while we waited. :-) We met up with a few of the ladies who had come earlier and got to chat with them. When the rest of the group arrived, we left on our coach (not bus!) tour of London with our friendly and very informable guide Nigel.
This picture was taken as we were heading into London. There were so many quaint houses on the way in. And yes, I realize that there is a giant arrow in the middle, but you get the idea!
Our first stop was the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall.
Then Buckingham Palace.
And then St. Paul's Cathedral.
By the end of the 2 hour tour, several of us were beginning to drag, but thankfully Mom and I felt fine. So after checking in to the hotel and getting a quick bite of lunch, we headed out to the Tower of London.
The Tower of London is actually a conglomeration of over 20 towers! We started out on a Yeoman Warder (or Beefeater) tour which took us around the premises and gave and overview of it's history.
Just inside the second gate, there is this charming half-timbered building.
After the tour, we went to see the Crown Jewels (housed in the building below). While they were very big and shiny, Mom and I found them kind of lacking in prettiness... One hates to turn up one's nose at huge jewels encrusting crowns, etc., but some seemed to be lacking in good taste. And while watching the video of Elizabeth II's coronation, I couldn't help but notice that her coronation robe looked very stiff and unbecoming, and even kind of ugly. Well, it's the same in real life! Oh well, I guess I'll never have to wear it, anyway! ;-)
Here is St. Thomas' Tower. It was an architectural marvel of its time because it has no keystone. Oh, and Traitor's Gate is underneath, but I guess we didn't get a picture of that. Too interested in the keystone-less bridge instead! Above it is the Medieval Palace, which is furnished as it would have been.
And there's Tower Bridge!
The White Tower. The centrally located tower, and home for the medieval kings.
After that, we went back to our hotel, found a nearby grocery store and found some bread and cheese for dinner. (our favorite English dinner!) It's a good thing that Hyacinth Gibson wasn't traveling with us! :-)