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.
We’re feeling the effects of our extensive hiking about London. This morning we walked to Buckingham Palace and then on to the Royal Horseguards to watch the changing of the Horseguard.
I think this one horse knew I has dined on his cousin in Iceland
We did have some more sunshine so we walked about in the early part of the day taking in the sites.
Being tired and it being Christmas Eve we went back to the hotel. And though it was not our intention, we ended up taking a nice nap before heading out to The Grazing Goat where we had dinner reservations. From there we made our way back to the hotel and are wrapping it up for the day.
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.
Just a quick update to document the first day of our trip to London.
It has been a rather odd, disjointed journey just getting here. No real major breakdowns, but some bizarre missteps.
First was getting dropped at the wrong terminal by the Parking Spot shuttle. We quickly sorted it out and proceeded to take the tram to the correct terminal, but not before getting off one time at the wrong stop.
Once we got to the correct terminal I discovered that my suitcase was 8 pounds over the limit which would have resulted in a $200 baggage fee. We quickly shifted some of our belongings and got both bags under the limit by increasing the weight on Cynthia’s suitcase.
We got checked in and proceeded to go through security. In the mad dash to shuffle belongings I got my shaving cream into my carry on where it was immediately confiscated because terrorism.
After clearing security we found our gate. We still had plenty of time so we went and got some dinner.
After dinner we went back to the gate and waited to board our plane. Unfortunately there was a delay because the plane at the gate which was destined for Frankfurt was having some problems and had not cleared the gate. This delayed our boarding by about 45 minutes.
Once airborne things smoothed out and we arrived in London on time, cleared customs and claimed our luggage.
We made our way to the hotel and checked in. It’s a nice hotel and we are going to be quite happy using it as our base of operations for the next two weeks.
Once we were settled into the hotel we made our way to a Vodafone store to purchase a SIM card for my phone and then to the grocery store to pick up some supplies like water, snacks and so forth.
With that out of the way we went to a nearby gastro pub and had dinner which was actually kind of lunch because it was only about 3:00 PM.
The sun went down at 4:30 and even though right now it is only 5:30 it seems like it is much later in the evening.
We’re tired and we’re going to bed, even though that means we will likely be up at the crack of dawn.
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.