We took today to go to the National Portrait Gallery as Cynthia wanted to see the Tudor and Elizabethan portraits. You see these paintings all the time in various context but seeing them in person is quite remarkable.
From there we decided to go to Fortnam and Mason to have high tea. When we got there it was still closed and they would not open till noon. We did notice that there were barricades up for the New Years Day parade so we decided to watch part of that as it was only about an hour away.
Interestingly enough, most of the marching bands were from Texas.
There were bands from Austin and Dallas as well.
There were also some London specific entries to the parade
We stayed and watched the parade for about an hour before deciding it was too cold and headed inside of Fortnam and Mason to experience high tea.
We enjoyed a nice tea and a tray of finger sandwiches and made our way back to the hotel to pack. Tonight we had our going away dinner and are preparing to come home.
It has been a wonderful trip to London.
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.
Museums, museums, museums. We hit the British Museum and the National Gallery. A full day exercise. Both museums are fantastic.
I even had the opportunity to add another shot to my “Camera On The Floor” series. This is the National Gallery Dome.
We also strolled about Trafalgar Square. Great to finally see it. They do need to flush out some, if not all, of the buskers. So tacky.
We also made the trek out to see the Christmas lights at Oxford Street this evening. Not worth the effort if you ask me. Too crowded and the lights are not all that great.
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Things should be calming down for us for the next few days.
Christmas is in the air in London, that’s for sure. Carolers in various places as we move about the city. It’s quite festive and fun.
Today we made our way to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It’s cheesy, as you might expect, but you can’t go to London and NOT visit 221B Baker Street.
Even William The Sheepie got in on the fun.
We walked around the neighborhood and found our way to The Windsor Castle Pub which is the meeting place of the London Handlebar Club.
From there we found our way to the Victoria Albert Museum to make up for missing it yesterday.
It is a fantastic place but as usual, not my cup of tea for photography. But I did enjoy seeing it. And I made my best effort to get an interesting photo of the ‘Rotunda Chandelier’ sculpture using my circular fisheye.
After running around town during the day we made our way back to the neighborhood near our hotel for a late lunch/early dinner. From there it was back to the hotel to freshen up and then we made our way back to the Tower Bridge and had a nice photo walk down the Thames to the Millennium Bridge.
A great, but tiring day.
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.
After yesterday’s adventures we slept good. Woke up, had breakfast and with another sunny day stretching out in front of us we decided to make our way to Greenwich to see the sites. This starts with a quick Tube ride to Westminster
Then a walk past the London Eye to get to the ferry
And then it’s a 45 minutes ferry ride down the Thames to get to Greenwich.
Along the way we spotted a dazzle ship. Apparently these are part of an art installation where the ship is painted in specially-commissioned ‘dazzle’ designs to pay homage to artists’ wartime contribution.
We visited the Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College which was really interesting to see.
This gave me the opportunity to take some wide angle shots using the technique of setting a timer on the camera and placing it on the floor facing up. It’s the best way I have found to get some of the amazing details present in ceiling paintings.
From there we made our way up to the observatory so we could stand on the Prime Meridian
Then we went down to the Maritime Museum which was interesting, but no photography allowed. But there was a large ship in a bottle on display in front of the museum
We grabbed a late lunch and then headed back to our hotel. We’re taking it easy tonight as we have run ourselves just a little ragged. Tomorrow should be a good day for hitting some of the museums.
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.
There are so many good color photos of Iceland that decided it might be interesting to process a few of my long exposure waterfall images in black and white. These are the results.
Today we took the rental car for our last drive in Iceland. We drove out to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa to swim in the warm, mineral rich waters. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 98–102 °F.
And let me tell you, it sure feels good!
The Blue Lagoon pretty much just another overpriced tourist trap and a lot of people will say that you should not waste your time or money with it, but I wouldn’t listen to them. Cynthia and I had a very good time soaking in the lagoon and would not have missed it for the world. It’s a very good way to unwind after our epic journey around Iceland.
After leaving the lagoon we drove out to see Perlan (The Pearl), an interesting building on the outskirts of Reykjavik.
I was glad to see it. There’s a restaurant at the top which is expensive and supposed to be very good, but we decided not to eat there.
After this we headed back to town to return the rental car. We tallied up the mileage and the grand total was just under 2,000 miles driven during our epic journey. Cynthia commented that many of those miles should count double due to the road conditions in some parts of the country. I would have to agree.
It was kind of sad walking away from Thor (Cynthia named the car “Thor”). That car served us well and was our home away from home as we traversed those those winding, up and down and sometimes wretchedly bumpy roads of Iceland.
We’re winding down now. We have one more day in Reykjavik before we fly home. It’s bittersweet. We have had a great time, but we are tired and ready to come home.
It’s also worth noting that Reykjavik is a bit of a disappointment after all that we have seen and done in Iceland. We hope to wring a little more joy out of the trip tomorrow, but it might just be a day of rest and getting our luggage sorted and ready for the flight home.