Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Day 2: My Trip to London and Ireland

In front of the famous Eros Statue in Picadilly Square

Lisa and I woke up refreshed and ready for a full day of sightseeing.  After a continental breakfast, Job One was finding out exactly where to get on the Hop-On Hop-Off bus.

That done, we set out in a light mist. (The very light rain didn't last very long, although the skies remained mostly overcast that day.)  I loved how the guide filled us in on important sights we were seeing on the way to St. Paul's Cathedral, where we would exit the bus.

(By the way, I STRONGLY recommend the Hop On Hop Off bus! It's definitely the best way to see a big city when you have limited time.  We enjoyed our experiences on the buses in both London and Dublin.)

St. Paul's Cathedral

On the steps of St Paul's Cathedral

The iconic dome of St Paul's
This iconic London church, designed by renowned architect Christopher Wren in the late 16-hundreds and early to mid 17-hundreds, had long been on my bucket list.

I had read many books in which St. Paul's featured prominently, including Connie Willis' fantastic time-travel books, Blackout and All Clear (read my review here.)

The building has served as a timeless reminder of the courage and resilience of Brits.  Parts of it were even bombed twice by the Germans in World War 2, but it still stands, full of dignity and historical significance.

We were taken around the cathedral by an informative, humorous guide.  Pictures aren't allowed inside the sanctuary, as it is still a place of worship to this day, but our tour was truly fascinating.

St Paul's Cathedral

Our first fish and chips

After a fairly lengthy tour of the cathedral and some souvenir-shopping, we were ready for lunch.  Remember I told you about our bad eating experience the day before?  We weren't sure what to expect when we sat down at Joe's Kitchen near St. Paul's.  But we were more than pleased.

This was our first experience of eating fish and chips in London, and it was delicious! In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we ended up eating fish and chips two more times during our trip.

The Tower of London

The Tower was another landmark that I had always longed to see.  What an experience! One of the amazing things for an American visiting Europe is the sheer age of everything.  America is comparatively a very young nation.  But in London, you are surrounded by things that were functioning as far back as the 1000s, some even earlier.

Parts of the  Tower of London were built as far back as 1078.  It also features prominently is many historical novels I've read.  Just about anybody who was anybody in British history was imprisoned there, including wives of Henry the 8th.

We were given a tour by Billy the Beefeater, a guide who is a member of the Yeoman Warders.  Apparently they were called Beefeaters because at one time, they were paid in beef.

Bill was hilarious, energetic and very informative...he helped make the tour a truly amazing experience.

One part of the tour that I can't show you, because photos weren't allowed, was the Crown Jewels.  The room full of incredible sparkle and shine was awe-inspiring!

The tour ended up in a small chapel in which services are still held today.  Once again, we were awed by the historical significance of this place.

River Thames Tour

Just after our tour of the Tower, we stepped onto a boat for a tour of the River Thames.  Another informative guide kept us informed about all the sights we were seeing....the Shard, the Globe Theater, the Tower Bridge and several other bridges, the London Eye (the huge ferris wheel), and much more.

Aboard the Thames River cruise

The Tower Bridge from our Thames River cruise

Seeing the sights of London from a boat on the River Thames was a truly memorable experience that I highly recommend.

I'm ending my recounting of Day 2 in London with this picture.  I literally have dreamed of having this very picture taken...standing by a red London phone booth with Big Ben in the background.  A dream come true!

After a very long day of sightseeing, most of it on our feet, we headed back to the hotel for a much-needed night's sleep.

To Be Continued

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