Saturday, February 26, 2011

22/2/11 Mom and Dad visit London: Day 3

     Mom and Dad will pose for any photo I tell them to pose for.  I will have to use this to my advantage.  Their third day here and we are so tired and sore.  So much walking and so much to see.  We had bought tickets for the open top bus tour which included a river tour and bus tickets that were valid for 48 hours.  We headed straight to Westminster where we waited for the cruise to leave while walking along the South Bank of the river.  It was a cold and gloomy day but still beautiful all in it's own.

Big Ben from the other side of the river.
Despite the haziness and lacking sun shine I
think the colors were still gorgeous.   Like
a muted gold and green...oh and brown river water. 

Mom and Dad walking along the river.  

On the boat waiting to leave. 

You got an up close view of the London Eye.
Today would not have been a good day to be up there.
You probably couldn't see much.  In fact, when we
were passing underneath it, they were emptying the
whole wheel.  Almost all the cars were empty....maybe
daily maintenance??

An old barge.  Now THAT'S an open air tour. 

View of St. Paul's dome from the river.  Some girl's
dome in the foreground. 

We passed by the Globe Theater.  A replica of the original
built close to its original spot.  Sean doesn't know it yet
but I want to drag him to see a play there this Spring. 

An old war ship (forgot the name) with Tower Bridge in the
background.  Love the colors here.  Again, that gold and green.

The very ornate Tower Bridge.  

    After our amusing river boat tour  down stream we got off at The Tower of London.  The ride was cold but the tour guide had a great sense of humor and had us all laughing.  We ate our tea biscuits and pretzels while floating along although I wish we had a thermos of hot chocolate.  
   The Tower of London was way more cooler than I had thought. In fact I had no idea what it was. I thought it was just a tower. It's not.  We walked around but opted out of the expensive tour but I think next time they come visit we'll add that to our to see list.  You would have to spend a whole day there exploring and learning it's history. I am intrigued. 

Tower of London.  You had to pay to get in so we walked the
perimeter instead.  I really want to go back here. I usually don't like
history but this sparked my curiosity.  We did however take
a good look around the gift shop. I bought Sean
a keychain: Henry VIII,
and I got one of a gold crown.  

Mom and Dad in front of Tower Bridge.
Mom clinging to her warm Starbucks Coffee.

In front of the traitor's gate.  Down below would have
been the moat. 

Tower Bridge. 

After we had our coffee and bathroom breaks
we were a little more energetic.
   After the Tower we jumped back on the tour bus to head back across the river to get a peek at the Globe and the Tate Modern.  I plugged my headphones in for the quick ride and the only thing I remembered was that along the shore they did an archeological dig and found ancient wolf bones.....
Mom pointing out something interesting. 

This is the Millenium Bridge going from the
Tate Modern to St. Paul's.  It's just a foot
St. Paul

Huge and beautiful!
Statue out front.
Mom and Dad disappointed.  We had
JUST missed the open hours for touring
the inside.  They had just closed it to prepare
for evening services.  
    So we got off the bus, looked around the Globe but saw that you couldn't really get a tour.  On the way out I grabbed a brochure for the upcoming season of shows.  Looks pretty cool.  We walked out and headed towards the Millenium Bridge where we crossed the river once again to check out St. Paul's Cathedral.  It huge and loomed over the busy streets of downtown London.  Unfortunately we had JUST missed the visiting hours and got turned away.  Bummer.  So it was back over the river once again to head to the Tate Modern where we hoped to warm up and see some cool art.  When we got there the fire alarms were going off and everyone was huddled outside.  No one was allowed back in. Forget it!  We walked on feeling defeated, cold, and tired.  On the way to the nearest tube station we passed a little water color gallery and popped in there. It was warm, free and there were gorgeous paintings on the wall.   At this point we were exhausted and our feet were throbbing.  The sun was setting and whatever warmth there was before was gone.  Now it felt like cold, damp, London.  We made our way to the tube and stopped for fish and chips on the way home.  With a little help of wine we were all zonked out in our beds before we knew it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

21/2/11 Mom and Dad Visit London: Day 2

      I am not sure how we all woke up early.  Everyone was so tired last night.  Dad was practically snoring at the dinner table.  But we did it.  We were up and out of the house around 9am and of course we took my parents out for  their first official Full English Breakfast!
Buttered toast, two eggs, grilled tomato, baked beans, bacon,
sausage, grilled mushrooms, hashbrown, and a cup of coffee
to attempt to wash it all down. 

Dad enjoyed it. 
    The meal was cheap, filling and exactly what we needed before our busy day in London.  We all took the tube down to central London where we headed for the start of the open top bus tour.  It was quite chilly out, only 41 degrees and cloudy but we decided to brave it and sit up on top.  It.Was.Cold.  I bet this tour is fabulous in the summer with the sun shining down and the wind in your hair. But boy oh boy! I was so cold.  We did a loop around and listened in to the tour on our headsets.  After a while we decided to bail and hop off the bus at the stop near Big Ben. I was so cold that I was getting really antsy and uncomfortable.  Time to walk and get the blood flowing.

On top of the bus joking about how cold it's going to be
and how silly we were for sitting up there.


      We got off the bus after it crossed the bridge and the walk back over was even colder.  Great views but still a little windy and cold.  Dad and Mom really wanted to check out Westminster Abbey so after checking out Big Ben and Parliament we crossed the street and headed over.

Mom: "It's cold, I'm frozen, wow this is cool"

Mom:  "The line is a mile long and I can't tell if we have to
pay to get in or if it's just a donation.  Will we burn in hell if we
don't pay? At least it'll be warm."

You get a good idea of the scale here.

   We thought we could get in and get a tour but the line was a mile long and we were all too cold and in need of a bathroom to stand in that line.  Someone had the brilliant idea to head to the National Gallery to warm up, look at some art and use the bathroom.  It wasn't too far of a walk but of course there was so much to see between Westminster and Trafalgar Square.

Dad sees the horse, the horse sees Dad.  The sign
says to beware.  Sideways stare. 

Zoom zoom scooter!

The sun ALMOST came out at this point but
at least we were shielded from the wind!

The Queen and King in their secret garden castle, waiting
for their tea time guests. 

Trafalgar Square.  Lions, buses, Big Ben Oh My!

    We spent a long time in the National Gallery.  There were so many great paintings and so much to look at.  (My favorite was Gaugin's still life of mangos...I may have to replicate it for our wall) It really got me excited to think about coming back here with my sketchbook and doing some studies of these artworks.  Mom was impressed with all the little kids walking around the museum that were just rattling off artists' names.  We could have spent the whole day in that place but by that time our English Breakfast had been totally digested and we needed a late lunch.  Sean lead the way to our next stop.

Hey you all know that look of Dad's....

We were having fun with my camera and taking
low light action shots.  I think this was take number
32. "no no ma, let's move our hands slower. no no you
have to smile and stop concentrating so much. no I know,
let's try moving the candle to adjust the take no we weren't ready......." etc etc etc

"I've got my eye on the bottle..."

We destroyed this cheese. 

A cave. 

Dad is saying "ANOTHER photo?
Mom is saying "Are you sure you want to leave? Should we get another bottle?"
     This was a pretty awesome place.  It was a little wine bar/pub in this old basement that was pretty much a cave.  The walls were drippy and it was dark and super cozy.  We drank a bottle of wine, devoured some cheese and listened to the underground trains rattle by, somewhere close to our heads.  It wasn't a full meal but enough to stop our rumbling tummies and hold us over for one more site before heading home.  Again, Sean navigated us back onto the tube, a couple stops and a line over to Buckingham Palace.  The queen was waiting for us, dinner would be served soon.

This is right before they went inside for dinner. 
  It was getting dark quick and our feet were throbbing.  Almost done!  We walked down a really long and really straight road (Sean's description) to an arch then to the tube and headed home.

Zoom zoom bike!

Zoom zoom black cab! (keeping myself occupied while waiting
to cross the street)
   The exhausted Americans crawled onto the packed train and headed home.  We saw so much,  walked so much and we were all starving.  I took my parents to the grocery store and got ingredients for homemade pizza.  Mom was awestruck by the three aisles of chocolate, cakes, and tea biscuits.  Sean prepared us some dough while Dad rambled off the schedule for tomorrow.  Then, we all crashed.
    Can't wait for tomorrow!