England 2010, Day 4: First Full Day in London
This post is part 6 of my travel series on our trip to England. You can also read about my getting to the first destination; our first evening in the Cotswolds; seeing the English countryside by bicycle; visiting Cotswold villages and local farm animals; exploring Oxford and Blenheim Palace; seeing Soho, the Tower of London, and The Mousetrap; exploring Kew Gardens, the British Library, and the British Museum; saying goodbye; and other reflections.
Wednesday, July 28—Our room at the Lynton Hotel was small, but comfortable. London hotel rooms are notoriously expensive so we were glad to find a good deal with personable owners (thanks again to Rick). We expected to have a twin room (with two twin beds) for the first night before switching to a double for our last three nights, but Mark said they did some finagling and we would have the same double room for our whole stay. This was obviously great news.
The en-suite bathroom was, well… a cultural experience. Jeff described this pre-fab bathroom pod as about the size of 1-½ phone booths. The toilet literally protruded into the shower and the sink overlapped with the toilet. I was sort of prepared for this so I really didn’t mind too much, but it was smaller than even I expected. Jeff had a couple cold to lukewarm showers, but I had a hot shower every time: before breakfast, after breakfast, if I showered first or second.
As I mentioned in the last post, we were staying near Victoria Station in the Belgravia/Victoria area. It was a relatively clean, quiet, and pleasant neighborhood convenient to the major central London sights. For those Alexander McCall Smith fans, we were one neighborhood to the north of Pimlico, the setting of Corduroy Mansions.
Our main plan for our first day in London included seeing some of the famous sights and taking the double-decker bus tour of the city. It was easy to buy our tickets and catch our first bus right outside Victoria Station. We didn’t intend to go see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham Palace as we’d heard you have to arrive quite early to get any chance of a good view. However, it was the first major stop on our bus and the tour guide said we were just in time to see the ceremony. Everyone on the bus filed off so it seemed the thing to do.
It was ridiculously crowded when we got there; we never did see the front of the palace itself.
Next up, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey:
The Union Jack flying atop Victoria Tower on the Houses of Parliament:
We ate lunch just off Trafalgar Square at Café in the Crypt, in the basement/crypt of St. Martin in the Fields Church:
Trafalgar Square was packed with people—just a little bit of a change from our quiet, pastoral experience in the countryside:
Then we spent some time just staying on the bus, getting the whirlwind tour of London:
Mom, this one is for you:
After getting off the tour we spent some time walking around Soho and perusing the shops on Oxford Street. At this point we were sort of wandering aimlessly, and stopped to rest our feet at Blackwell’s bookshop on Charing Cross Road and to figure out a plan for dinner.
Dinner ended up being takeaway from a crowded Fish and Chips shop, The Rock and Sole Plaice, which we ate on a bench in Leicester Square.
Up the street from The Rock and Sole Plaice, I found St. Mungo’s!
Okay, so it’s obviously a homeless shelter, not a hospital for magical maladies, but the description of the building still fits.