The day after we arrived in London, we went sight-seeing with Geoff and Donna, who was visiting from NZ as well. Geoff lives right in the centre of London, so we managed to see quite a few places in one trip! We absolutely love London, and can't wait to move there once we sort out job situations.... Here is a snapshot (OK, a few) of our adventures....
First we went to Buckingham Palace, but it was somewhat closed off with the Visa 2012 Party. This was a huge concert held in the grounds (GBP40 per ticket, as I recall) at the Mall in front of the palace to celebrate the UK Olympic medal takings and the fact the Olympics will be held in the UK in 2012. Lots of patriotic statements about how awesome Britain was.... *gag*.
Here is a palace (maybe Whitehall?) on the left, and the London Eye on the right. The palace looks like a fairytale!
About 40,000 people watched the concert on free screens at various locations, so we watched for about twenty minutes as well in the palace gardens. We saw Il Diva (whom Mealz loves) singing a Mariah Carey song in Spanish, James Morrison and the band McFly.
We stopped and looked at the memorials to Florence Nightingale and Sydney Herbert, just as air force jets roared overhead with red, white and blue smoke streams.
Here is Picadilly Circus. It was hopelessly touristy, like a lot of London. The large ad billboards remind me of Times Square in New York. The fountain on the right is famous - Eros (Cupid).
Coffee at Starbucks on Oxford Street, the Lambton Quay equivalent for you Wellingtonians....
The coffee was our first introduction to London prices - the equivalent cost of US$11 for two small coffees!
Almost fluorescent flowers in Hyde Park: these are real.
We went to Wellington Arch, commemorating the Duke of Wellington I suppose! The New Zealand War Memorial is just to the left of the picture below.
Here's a London taxi - they're usually black but can be any colour with advertising. What distinguishes them is their distinctive vehicle shape. No boot (trunk), just a very large back seat area which can fit luggage.
Here is Leicester Square, where a woman in red with pursed lips and a thin face, was having her portrait drawn.
We then walked past the Prince Charles Cinema, featuring "Braindead", an early Peter Jackson movie from NZ! On to London's Chinatown, a few winding, bare streets. I get the feeling this "Chinatown" is as Chinese as Grant St in San Francisco has become.
Past the National Portrait Gallery and the church of St Martin in the Fields, to Trafalgar Square, just as the sun was setting.
Note Big Ben in the far right background...
Here is the other side - we're standing in front of Marble Arch, which is the entrance to the Mall road which leads to Buckingham Palace. The statue of Trafalgar is to the left behind us, with the National Gallery behind that.
Then we walked down past Whitehall Palace, the one we'd seen earlier. Here is 10 Downing Street where the British PM lives, well-protected. They won't even let you on that street any more!
Here is Big Ben itself, with the very ornate Parliamentary buildings.
Across the road lies Westminster Cathedral. A lot of famous people are buried here! I was pretty excited to see this!
Finally, we walked back across the bridge to Geoff's.
Now, that must be almost all of the tour of London done in one swoop! :) Just kidding, there's more to see yet!