Wednesday, October 19, 2011

London, England

Not long after sunrise we began our descent towards Gatwick Airport, south of London, North of Crawley. Over a never ending patchwork quilt of rolling green fields we flew, over little villages tucked in between sheets of white fog, over country roads winding between pastures, each unique in shape, fitted together like pieces of a puzzle and each bordered by tall hedging trees, all so timelessly picture perfect that I couldn't help but imagine a fictional Mr. Darcy strolling over those very fields in the early morning dew. So peaceful and quaint it was nearly impossible to imagine the sights, sounds and terror of the all too real Blitz of WWII. History came alive for me before I had even touched the ground. As it would continue to do so, without fail, ever day of my journey through Europe.

I have already described my excitement in those first moments upon landing so I wont do so again. After dropping my bags at the hotel I headed to the airport train station and purchased a ticket on the Gatwick Express (a direct 35 minute train ride from Gatwick Airport to Victoria Station in the heart of London) which was more expensive than I had expected at 17.90 pounds (nearly $30 canadian or US) one way! The first of many expenses I hadnt really anticipated.

When I arrived in Victoria station and stepped out in to London for the first time I met head on a handful of British cliches:, red double decker buses, Cornish pastie stands, pubs, and little black taxi's so cute they looked like toys. I decided to walk around rather than take the traditional red bus tour. I wanted to feel the city beneath my feet.... had I known that three hours and God-knows-how-many-miles later, somewhere between Buckingham Palace and St. Pauls Cathedral, my feet would actually fall off, I might have taken the damn bus:)

I didn't come close to seeing all the sites, or even as many as I would have on the bus but I'm glad, now that the memory of those painful blisters has faded, to have seen a little of London between the monuments. I would love to go back and give the city the time it deserves. I went through it so quickly and was so tired, it feels more like I flipped through a picture book of London- I have little snippets of a beautiful city on a beautiful day, filled with terrifically beautiful sites but no distinct memory of what it was to stand before them. The last I remember of London was of trying to keep my eyes open on the train back to my hotel... I didnt fall asleep thankfully, but I wasnt really awake either, not until the next morning when I flew in to Rome...

A recommendation for future travellers: Look in to buying a London Pass. I had no idea how expensive the admission prices were going to be for the different sites (not just in London but in Rome and other cities as well). For example: Westminster Abby 16 pounds ($25) St. Pauls 14.50 pounds ($23) Buckingham Palace (where Kate's dress is displayed) 17.50 pounds ($29)

Below are my photos of some of the historical sites I visited (or the ones I took pictures of anyways!) It seems that blogger has this new (to me) option where if you doublt click the picture it opens a slideshow format for larger viewing)

A noble looking King Richard I statue outside of Parliament.

Oliver Cromwell statue with Big Ben in background

Walking up the street towards St. Pauls

St. Pauls (the upper facade) sorry I got a little carried away editing this one, I didnt like the originals as there were many buses, sign posts and people below.

I cant remember where I took this one, but it is Elizabeth I

Big Ben

Trafalgar Square

Somerset House Courtyard

Westminster Abby

GIANT arena behind The Guards Museum... wouldnt you love to lope some circles in there!?!

The Guards Museum

Buckingham Palace

Statue outside of Buckingham Palace

Horse poo outside Buckingham Palace! :)

Horses and Guards at the Gaurds Museum (above and below)

Statue behind The Guards Museum (can you tell that I liked the Guards Museum?!?)

Douglas Haig statue- I will quote here from wikipedia an interesting fact about this statue:

-"Unveiled 10 November 1937. The statue aroused great controversy, comparable even with the reaction to Epstein's early works. The depiction of the horse was deemed to be unnatural; Country Life noted that its legs were in the position for urinating. Haig's widow did not attend the unveiling."

While I did find the stance of this horse unusual it didn't strike me as offensive... if anything I found it beautiful and the pose regal.... I guess Tennesse Walkers, Arabians, Morgans and Saddlebreds were not popular (or didnt exist) at this time! I'm used to looking past horses being arranged in unnatural ways for statues and figurines... someone should have pointed out to those who took issue that a better argument would be for the unlikeliness of Haig's horse to have pointed like a bird dog... just a thought...


  1. I love London and have had the good fortune to have visited there often - it's one of the world's great cities and a source of endless exploration and delight. One time when I was in Hyde Park I encountered a man riding a beautiful Friesian - it was one of the Harrod's carriage horses and was being exercised under saddle - a great London horse moment!

  2. London has such a cool vibe - your description of landing and then taking the train into the city is very similar to my experience there.

    I was there for about 36 hours when I was in university and have been longing to go back and really get to know the city... I've been back to England since, but wasn't able to fit in a trip to the city.

    Can't wait to hear about Italy - I've never been there!

  3. Did you get a chance to watch the Changing of the Guard? Super beautiful! Yup - do remember being stunned at how expensive everything was - even the food!

  4. Wow sounds amazing! I would love to see Buckingham Palace, but even more so Westminister Abbey. It just looks so pretty!!

  5. Beautiful photos and post! Definitely done London proud! I love the Queen's Guards!

  6. Gorgeous photography there girlie. Can't wait to see the rest of your trip. Probably the closest I'll ever get to ever seeing those places. :-)

  7. London looks beautiful!! I hope on going one day!