Another great day of sunshine. Cynthia had said she wanted to climb to the top of St. Paul’s while in London so we made our way to the cathedral after breakfast. We explored the cathedral (no photography allowed inside} and, knowing I could never make the climb, Cynthia headed up the 528 steps to the very top while I took the opportunity to do some photography down by the river.
We had arranged to meet up on the Millennium Bridge once Cynthia had finished her climb so we could go exploring some more of London.
We made our way to see St. Bride’s Church
We also walked down Fleet Street to see the art deco buildings. I wanted to see the street that was the home of British national newspapers until the 1980s
It was an interesting walk that took us to the house where Dr. Samuel Johnson lived and where were told we could find the statue to his beloved cat, Hodge.
After walking around all day I wanted to get a photo of Battersea Station, the power station many of us know from the cover of the Pink Floyd “Animals” album. Unfortunately, the building is undergoing major restoration as it is being turned into a living and shopping space.
All in all, though, a good day.
Another bright, beautiful day in London. Temps are in the upper 30’s so it’s quite brisk. We had intended to go to St. Paul’s today, but it’s only open for services on Sunday so perhaps tomorrow.
Today we took advantage of the weather and took a spin on The London Eye. It’s a bit pricey for a 30 minute ride, but the views are spectacular.
From there we made our way to The British Library via King’s Cross Station.
No photography allowed at The British Library, sadly, as there are some very cool exhibits there including a Gutenberg Bible and some original hand-written Beatles song lyrics. We even got to see an inverted Jenny in the philately exhibit.
After that we just enjoyed some more walking about and taking in the sites before heading back to the hotel.
I should note that subway travel has been complicated as the Central and District lines are not running while they undergo maintenance.
It’s Boxing Day. Most all the museums and other sites are closed. The Tube is running a reduced schedule and it’s cold and overcast. We made the trek out to see the replica blue police box because we are somewhat nerdy about Dr. Who and on our way back we took a peek at the Harrods window displays. After a nice Indian meal for lunch we decided to take it pack it on and take it easy for the rest of the day so we could catch up on some photo editing and post card writing.
If we get inspired we may go out tonight, but I am not counting on it.
Today was Christmas day and we had a very low key agenda planned. The hotel is minimally staffed so the breakfast was continental rather than full English. The tables in the breakfast room had Christmas crackers placed at each of the seats so we got to experience that English Christmas tradition. You pull the cracker like like a wishbone and it pops and inside is a small toy, a Christmas crown and a bad joke.
After breakfast we decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful day with bright sunshine and blue skies so we wandered around Hyde Park.
From there we found our way to The Grazing Goat where we had reservations for a traditional Christmas dinner. It was a very festive and delicious experience. I had Venison Wellington and Cynthia has a more traditional turkey dish. Again we had crackers and we decided to wear our Christmas hats for the entire meal.
We met a lovely couple from Edinburgh who were in London for the holidays and we had a very nice time sharing travel stories and generally carrying on. At the end of the dinner we had a traditional Christmas pudding for dessert and then found our way back to the hotel. Unfortunately the subways don’t run on Christmas so we had to walk. Fortunately the weather was still fantastic so it was fine.
We wrapped up the day by watching the Queen’s speech on BBC 1 and the Dr. Who Christmas Special. All in all, a very merry Christmas.
Today was the end of our glorious sunshine. Clouds have rolled in, but fortunately no rain to speak of. We took The Tube to South Kensington to visit the Natural History Museum with the intention of also visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Natural History Museum is a fantastic building with an amazing collection of animal specimens ranging from insects to dinosaurs. I think the dinosaur exhibit is the most popular, especially with the kids.
I was struck by the beauty of the building itself. No tripods allowed, but I found a railing where I could perch my camera and shoot some longer exposure shots which yielded some good results.
When we left the Natural History Museum it was out intention to go to the Victoria Albert Museum, but we noticed that the Science Museum was right next door so we popped in there for a visit. I was curious to see the newly opened information age exhibit.
There were some very cool displays featuring technology that I was happy to see.
I will say it is odd going to a museum and seeing technology like the Tandy TRS-80 that I used when it was new as a museum exhibit behind protective glass.
After we were done with the Science Museum we determined that we were a little too beat to try and tackle the Victoria Albert Museum so we headed back to the hotel to rest after having a late lunch. After we rested up a bit we caught The Tube out to Westminster to get some long exposure night shots.
We walked around and took in the sites and then made our way back to the hotel for some snacks and now for some sleep.
We were so tired after arriving in London and that, combined with the sun going down by 4:00 pm we could not manage to stay awake after about 5:30 pm. We knew going to sleep that early might result in some problems, but interestingly enough we managed to pretty much sleep through to 7:30 the next morning. It was still dark outside so we both thought it must be like 2 am or so. We were very relieved that was not the case.
We got dressed and had breakfast and were greeted by a sunny day with big blue skies.
We found our way to the Tower Of London
We didn’t take the tour as we wanted to fully exploit the sunny day. We moved on from the Tower Of London to the Tower Bridge.
Here we decided to take the tour. We were especially keen to see the new glass floor in the upper walkways of the bridge that had just recently opened.
After touring the bridge we took a rather leisurely stroll down the Thames just to take in the sites.
Later that afternoon we had plans to meet up with some friends for dinner. We set The Shard as our meeting point.
From there we all moved on to have dinner at Rabot 1745, an amazing restaurant where everything on the menu is cocoa-centric. Basically using either sweet chocolate or cacao in the making of the dish. Even my martini had cacao flavored vodka.
After a fantastic dinner we walked with our friends and explored the riverside after dark. It was then we noticed that The Shard was treating the city of London to a light show.
All in all, a very successful first day if our utter exhaustion and blistered feet are any indication.
We’re off to spend the holidays in London, England! So much to see and do. We’ll be updating here frequently !
Cynthia has a low mileage (50,000) 1994 Toyota Hilux Xtra Cab and it has been sitting up in the garage, unused, for 9 years. She bought the truck new, but never really enjoyed it and eventually bought a Mazda Miata for her daily driver.
We finally got around to getting it pulled from our garage towed to a mechanic to get it back up and running. The truck needed a bit of work to get it running again, but now it has been resurrected. Cynthia has a new affection for the truck now and we will be keeping it as a utility vehicle as well as a classic collectible.
The Golden Circle
After the somewhat disappointing rain and gloominess of yesterday we were quite happy to see blue skies punctuated with fluffy white clouds. We’ve had more sun than rain on this trip and today was just tipping the weather scales that much more in our favor.
Today we made our way back to Reykjavik as we wind down our Icelandic adventure. On the way we drove what is referred to as the “Golden Circle” to see the sites.
Included on the Golden Circle is Kerið, a volcanic crater lake. I would have shot this from the top of the back, but it was a bit too windy for me. I opted for this lower angle.
From there we made our way to Geysir The Great Geyser to see the original Geyser for which all Geysers are named.
Sadly, Geysir is not very active. However, it’s little brother Strokkur will go off every few minutes.
From there we drive to Gullfoss which is one of the most striking and beautiful waterfalls in all of Iceland. And if the sun is shining you get treated to a rainbow along with the majestic waterfall. Fortunately for us, it was a beautiful sunny day.
After visiting Gullfoss we made our way to Þingvellir National Park. The dramatic Þingvellir landscape was formed as a result of sitting along the border between the North American and European tectonic plates. It’s really something to see.
Þingvellir is where the parliament of Iceland was first founded around the year 930 and where it continued to meet until 1798.
A flag marks the spot where the speaker of parliament stood. The speaker of parliament would stand atop the Logberg, or Law Rock, to read the law to the members of parliament in the valley below. It really is a magical place.
By the time we finished exploring the park it was getting pretty late so we set our GPS for our hotel in Reykjavik. We drove in to town just as the Icelandic gay pride festivities were breaking up. The streets were a bit crowded with rainbow wearing/waiving revellers so it was slow going to get to the hotel.
Now we are checked in and resting up for a day at the Blue Lagoon tomorrow. I think it will be very relaxing and just what we need before we wrap this Iceland trip up.
Egilsstaðir to a guest house a few miles north of Hofn – 166 miles
Today we would be driving through the scenic East Fjords of Iceland.
This morning it looked like our weather luck might have run out. It rained all last night and was raining when we hit the road. Once we made our way a little to the east things started clearing up and we were left with dramatic skies full of interesting clouds.
We took every opportunity to stop. Sometimes to meet animals
Sometimes just to take photos of interesting road signs.
I had thought we were done with tunnels in Iceland, but it turns out we had two more in store for us. The first was Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng which was 3 1/2 miles long and the second was Almannaskarðsgöng which is a little less than a mile long.
Cynthia has gotten pretty used to them by now. She still hates them, but she keeps her good humor.
We made good time toward our final destination and stopped in Djúpivogur for some lunch before driving the final hour to our hotel.
Tomorrow we’re scheduled to drive on to the west along the south coast, a route that will take us past the glacial lagoon at Jökulsárlón. Since the weather was so good today and it wasn’t all that far to get to Jökulsárlón I decided to go out there this evening. Just in case the weather tomorrow isn’t so good. I would hate to miss it.
The place is fantastic. The glacier has partially melted and retreated and this has created a glacial lagoon. When ice from the glacier breaks off it forms icebergs in the lagoon.
These icebergs then make their way out to sea.
Many pieces of the icebergs wash up on the shores of the black sand beach and are ghostly to behold.
We hung out for a few hours taking photos and then made our way back to the hotel.
Tomorrow we push further west and suspect we’ll drop in on the glacier lagoon for another visit.