Monday, August 17, 2009

London Day 2--Buckingham Palace

We got an earlier start to the day and went to the gym in the hotel. They have beautiful state-of-the-art equipment, not a lot of it, but nice.

The breakfast in the hotel is exceptional. We mostly stick to muesli and yummy yoghurt. There is no low-fat stuff here! Lots of fresh fruit and then a whole area of hot items if you wish.

We brought some laundry to the place across the street where they have a wash-dry-fold service. We really need some clean stuff!

From there it was over to Buckingham Palace to visit Betty Two (as our Ireland bus driver, Joe would say). We opted to tour the state rooms only; it was a self-guided audio tour, and very well done.


The Palace was originally known as Buckingham House, a large townhouse built in 1703. In 1761 it was acquired by King George III for his wife, Queen Charlotte. During the 19th century, it was enlarged forming three wings around a central courtyard. It is currently the only working palace, serving as the Queen's residence and the location of all the offices of the palace.


The line-up waiting to buy tickets...it was like the United Nations...all you heard was a buzz of voices in every different language. The line moved pretty quickly (it was out onto the street when we came out).


Betty Two at work....

You're not allowed to take pictures in the palace. The paintings in the Picture Gallery are beautiful. There was one in particular by Rembrandt that made you realize why they are called the Masters. It was so real...just amazing.

There were several of these birds with white faces on the lawns...not sure what they are. Jim says "black ducks." Is he pulling my leg?? (We've since learned that they are coots.)

We didn't get around to taking pictures at the front of the palace at the gates. The awnings at the back of the castle are the cafe and gift shop. Kinda spoils the look a little, but Betty Two has to bring in some bucks.

The gift shop...they actually had some really nice things (other than the usual touristy stuff). I bought a Buckingham Palace hand towel. Not sure why...but I had to have it!

The gardens surrounding the palace...

If the spikes don't get you going in, the barbed wire on top of them will!


The Wellington Arch, planned in 1825 by George IV to commemorate Britain's victories in the Napoleonic Wars. It was also to provide a grand entrance to Buckingham Palace. Much of the elaborate decoration planned for it was omitted after the King's overspending on the refurbishment of the palace.

We've been killing our eyes trying to figure out what gate this is on the teeny, tiny map. After googling many arches and gates, we still don't know.

After all that hard work, we stopped at the restaurant across from the hotel for a beverage, which then turned into several beverages and a Turkish meal. We weren't really sure what we were eating, but it was good! Reminded me more of Lebanese food, but the waiter said "No! Turkish!" Well, alrighty then...

We're looking pretty pleased with ourselves...

I am clutching my newly purchased touristy bag...neither my big purse nor the knapsack were cutting it. Oh and it's touristy all right...even says City of London!

Lots of double decker buses...

And all sorts of taxis...

This one's for you, Sissy!

A little bit of this, and a little bit of that....

This is an ambulance bike...

Also saw lots of these small wheeled bikes. They seem to be quite popular...

It was a good day! Picked up our laundry and went back to the hotel before heading out to the theatre. "We Will Rock You" is doing the Mamma Mia thing of making a play out of a band's best songs. Now you know with Queen songs, the show would have to be way out there!

Going to visit cousin Ann in Needham Market near Ispwich tomorrow...

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