Somewhere between my leaving the hotel and arriving in Trafalgar square, it turned into a sunny day in London I was not prepared! Where was the rainy, foggy English weather I had been expecting?
The square was another busy place. There seemed to be a lot of school aged kids, either on field trips or school trips from further abroad.
Nelson's column is the centrepiece....
....flanked by four massive black lions and several (currently waterless) fountains.
Interesting fact: Apparently the original intention behind installing the fountains was less for esthetics than it was to limit the space available for protests.
On the north side of the square is the National Gallery.
Leaving Trafalgar Square, I headed for the Embankment along the Thames. Before crossing the river, I had lunch in this garden...and tried not to get sunburnt. The change in weather meant I hadn't brought my sunscreen...and I'm pale. It's not a great combination! :)
The office workers decided it was a good idea to have lunch in the park as well. I was probably lucky to have a bench to sit on at all, as everyone was out catching some much welcome sun.
I crossed over the Golden Jubilee Bridge to the other side of the river...
...halfway across you could already hear the music!
The band was having a rolicking good time and there was quite a crowd gathered. The balding man in the upper left corner of the photo wasn't part of the band....but he was part of the entertainment! He was quite drunk. And dancing. Badly. Funny to watch, except I think the band was slightly annoyed with him getting in the way of their show! :)
There was very much a festival feeling to the day. Lots of people out and about, the sun shining, a nice breeze blowing. Street entertainers scattered about everywhere. Kids running around eating ice cream. Music playing.
And this was only a Wednesday!
There was a lonely, blue musician...
A painter, reproducing some famous paintings...
I really love this next one!
And then there was a troup of guys juggling, limboing (if that's a word) and dancing.
Next to all of this, was the London Eye. Biggest ferris wheel I've ever seen! I didn't go up...you should have seen the line!...but it looked pretty amazing, and on a day like this one, I bet you would have an amazing view too!
And a view of Big Ben and the Parliament buildings, with Westminster Bridge in the foreground.
And closer up....way up!
Plus a way-up view of the front of Westminster Abbey, below...this is the Great West Door, or at least the part of the building above it! I was way too close to get the whole thing in. :)
I did pay to go inside Westminster Abbey, and they have this fabulous audio tour included in it. It was one of my favourite parts about the entire trip hands down. I wasn't allowed to take photos inside, and it's so hard to describe the interior, but I thought the building itself was incredible, not to mention the history involved. Behind the altar, there were all these little chapels filled with monuments and statues and tombs in memory of people who are buried there or memoralized in the abbey, as well as the stones on the floors are inscribed with messages and names and dates. Also in that area are the steps leading to Henry VII's Lady Chapel which is incredibly beautiful.
The sobering part of the Abbey for me, was the memorial for Unknown Warrior. I suppose because it pertains to something more recent than the rest of the history of the Abbey, with the trials of long ago kings and queens. It's a black engraved tablet, lying in the floor inside the west door, surrounded by red flowers.
Above is the Great North Door, where we entered, and below, some detail of the arch above the entrance.
It could be great fun and very interesting, to stop and actually look closely at the decorations on the churches. I have some really interesting pictures later on in the trip...sometimes you have to wonder what exactly the meaning was behind some things. On the other hand this dragon/gargoyle is just plain cute! (In my opinion anyways.)
Below, is a courtyard in part of the Abbey. Some of the staff of the Abbey have entrances into their homes from around this grassy area. I figured that this wasn't inside the Abbey...so I could take pictures. :)
It really was a fabulous place to visit, even without being able to record it. And also really neat with recently watching the royal wedding on tv, to the place where I had just been, and to see it all dressed up.
By the time I left the Abbey, it was getting later, so I headed back towards the hotel to find a place for dinner. This last shot is heading down the escalator into the tube station. And I wasn't even at the top of it. Some of those tube stations were a long, long way down. And of course, I had to find a station where the up escalator wasn't working. Let me tell you, that was a long, long way up!
The stop nearest my hotel has a sign, warning people that there are 175 steps to the top, and to take the lift if at all possible. Needless to say, I took the lift!
And yes, I ended the day with a sunburn. Yippee! :)