Day 2 - More Sightseeing In London
After a VERY busy first day, we stepped out into the slightly misty morning for a jog around Hyde Park. About 10 minutes into the run, we noticed some soldiers on horseback practicing formations...which reminded us that we were about to miss the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace! So we quickly headed back to the hotel to change and hopped into a taxi. We arrived about 10 minutes before it kicked off and fought through a crowd to get a good spot along the Palace gates. We were able to see most of the ceremony and get some pictures:
This is how you can tell the different units apart - different plumes in their covers and different button patterns along their red coats (which we couldn't see because of their jackets)
It was a great ceremony, and longer than we expected with a few songs played by the bagpipers and then more music played by another musical element, but a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, our time at Marine Barracks Washington made us somewhat critical of their marching:)
After the Changing of the Guard, we went to Ye Olde London Shop for lunch. I had a chicken and mushroom pie with chips and Jason enjoyed a sausage platter.
Then we headed to do a bit more exploring, but decided to stop by the train station and purchase our tickets for the next few days. (We had departed Dulles with round trip tickets and our first night's hotel reservation. The rest we made up on the fly.) When we arrived at the ticket window, we encountered a very strange man who did his best to convince us that we were idiots. Thank goodness cooler heads prevailed and after about an hour, we were set with train tickets for the following day to Cheltenham, the day after to Newcastle, and the third day to Edinburgh, Scotland. The guy who sold us the tickets kept saying, "You MUST get there ON TIME or your tickets will not be refunded," as if we have more flexible rules in America for such things. I was impressed that Jason didn't jump through the plexiglass and punch this guy!
After that, we were in desperate need of another pint, so we stopped at The Hung, Drawn and Quartered.
While we wandered the streets, we saw Occupy London at the base of St. Paul's Cathedral...just as disorganized and random as Occupy DC:
We ended up at the Tower of London and walked around snapping photos of the outside. Unfortunately, we arrived just before they closed, so we were unable to go inside for a tour:
On the other side of the Tower of London, we came to the Tower Bridge, so we decided to check it out. We were able to walk between the towers (4 stories up) and take some pictures through the glass:
By the time we left the Tower Bridge, it was dark, so we walked along the river and stopped in The Horniman's at Hays pub for another pint:
We hopped on the Underground and headed to Green Park to find The Rugby Store on Carnaby Street (a great outdoor mall area). We were using an old guide book that Jason's Uncle Gary Mike loaned us and he had written a small note inside the front cover about this place. We were amazed to find it! And Jason scored a cool shirt!
Having worked up a good appetite (and having been sucked into the amazing area called Chinatown from our exploration the previous night), we decided to go get Peking Duck for Jason and then hit a different restaurant, a Korean place, for me! Hey, we were on vacation...it's allowed:)
We were totally stuffed after that, so we walked around and came across Ripley's Believe It or Not. We wandered around the five different floors looking at all the crazy stuff and ended up doing a great mirror maze and crawling through a laser maze. Here are a couple things we found interesting:
Finally, with black forest cake in hand (purchased pre-Ripley's tour from a cute bakery), we headed back to the hotel via the Underground and drank some champagne in the hotel lounge. Another great day on the books!