…Michele and I arrived in London yesterday, where we will stay for 3 nights and then head to Ireland for the balance of our 2 week trip abroad!! We flew through the night and arrived at our hotel about 2 pm, so the first item on our list was a nap, amd it was spectacular!!! One activity completed! After the nap, we decided to take a walk to check out Picadilly Circus, which is about a 20 minute walk from our hotel. We weren’t all that impressed (though first impressions are sometimes wrong), especially after hearing that it was similar to Times Square in New York, which I loved. After Picadilly , we walked back towards the hotel and stopped at an English pub for fish and chips, which I thought were good but Michele was just meh. Then it was back to the hotel, where I was exhausted and wanted to go to bed (it was 6:30 London time) and Michele wanted to go explore more. We both got what we wanted, though I did stay up until 7:30, when she got back and then I was out like a light. The alarm was set for 6:15 the next morning as we had a big day planned!
Sunday morning alarm came and I felt great as I slept like a rock but Michele didn’t sleep well so she got to snooze while I showered. Today our plan was to go on a guided tour to see the Changing of the Guards and then later in the day, do a self tour of Buckingham Palace. We had debated whether to do a guided tour of the Changing of the Guards or not but we are so glad we did. We ended up seeing (and learning) so much more than if we would have just headed to Buckingham Palace to see them. For anyone coming here to see that, spend the money on a tour. This will rank, easily, in the top 5 events I have seen in my time. It’s hard to describe exactly how spectacular it was but hopefully a couple of pictures below will at least show some of what we saw. That tour took a couple of hours and it ended at Buckingham Palace so we decided to walk a little farther to see Westminster Abbey and that was another awesome sight. We couldn’t go inside as it was Sunday and my allergy to church services was acting up, but just from the outside you could see and feel how grand this church was. Well worth the extra steps. After that, we headed back to the hotel for our afternoon nap as we still had the tour of Buckingham Palace ahead of us.
Our tour of the Palace was scheduled for 4 pm and we got there a bit early to take some pictures. Earlier in the day we were at the Palace for the Changing of the Guards but didn’t get up to close to the gates. This time we were standing right by the gates that we’ve all seen on tv many times. As the flag on top was flying the British flag, that was the indication that the Queen was not home. When she is there, another flag flies above. The tour inside the Palace was of the State rooms and was a self guided walk with audio players. After the first couple of rooms, we ditched the audio players and just walked through the rooms. It was pretty neat to see some of the rooms that I have seen portrayed in movies or tv shows. All in all, Buckingham Palace is the one place I have always wanted to see in person and it didn’t disappoint. The Changing of the Guards was something else I really wanted to see and it not only didn’t disappoint, it WOW’d me.
After this tour, we were hungry as all we had ate today was breakfast so we headed back to the hotel to make dinner plans. The one thing that the British are known for is their roast beef dinners with all of the trimmings – Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes, and gravy – and the one thing Jeffy is known for is his delight in eating roast beef dinners with all of the trimmings. So it seemed like another match was made in heaven! We found a restaurant that was rated very highly for its beef dinners – Simpsons In The Strand – and Uber’d our way there. (just a side note – this was our first Uber also and we love it). Well, let me tell you about the British roast beef dinners at Simpson’s – it will be getting a full 5 star review, even though it cost more than what we pay for a week’s worth of groceries back home. Nonetheless, it was worth it and I was very happy to actually walk the half hour back to our hotel.
So, our day was a total success and I ended up with just over 20,000 steps (Michele had over 25,000 steps because of her short legs). AND, we found out our first impression of Piccadilly was wrong, which I will write about more next time!