Today we planned a day trip to London, where Silke and I met up with Emillee, one of my travel companions from my trip to Australia. It was so great to see her again and catch up after nearly 2 years. You never know how it will go when you bring two friends together, but I must say, once again it went exceptionally well!
The actual plan for the day was to walk around London and see some sights but also to just be together and chat. I must admit, aside from London being an unfamiliar city, I don’t necessarily feel like I am in a different country, and I think that helps to be surrounded by familiar faces.
Once we arrived and met up, we walked over to Buckingham Palace. The Queen was not in and being off-peak they were not doing the Changing of the Guard that day. I was able to get a shot of the Guardsmen in front of the Palace. It was great practice switching lenses and using my zoom lens to get in close.
As we were leaving, we witnesses the Household Cavalry headed down the Mall. It was quite an unexpected surprise but what a sight it was!
We continued our journey through St. James’s Park where we saw a lot of water fowl. There were these three pelicans that looked to be patrolling the lake, with what we guessed to be the senior at the head. We also observed coot with their chicks, a couple of heron as well as the great crested grebe. They were so fun to watch as they dove under water for fish, with their butts up in the air!
We rounded out being a tourist with the red phone box, pictures with the Bobbies (which unfortunately did not come out), the London Eye, the Elizabeth Tower at noon to hear Big Ben, the Tower of London, and the Tower Bridge, which to me looked straight out of a fairy tail.
With all this sight seeing, we needed to eat so we walked over to a outdoor market to grab lunch. As it turned out, the theme was Africa, so almost all the food vendors were African inspired dishes… which made me more nervous of how much I may not be eating in Africa.
The last activity was going up to the Sky Garden, located on the 35th floor of the Walkie Talkie Building. Unfortunately with the rain, we were not allowed out of the viewing deck, but we did have quite a 360 degree view of London. This is where we had the best view of the Gherkin, the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge!
For doing London in a day, I think we did pretty well! It really was so great to see friends that I never get to see and explore a city while doing it.
The one thing that surprised me, was the rifles that most of the guards were holding. I was under the impression that London police did not carry gun, and some did not, but the guards in and around some of the buildings were all carrying some powerful rifles. It makes sense, but I was not expecting it.
The fun fact of the day, Big Ben is the bell inside the clock in the Elizabeth Tower, so unless you go inside you do not see Big Ben, you just can hear him. Big Ben is responsible for the “bong” of each hour only, and not the chimes that happen prior or on every 15 minutes.
Funniest sight of the day, was what we could only assume was a Bachelor party, where all the men where Mariachi and the bachelor was the bull.