Tuesday ended up being a very busy day for us here in London-town. We got a fairly late start to the day (oh well, we needed the sleep!) making it to Westminster Abbey by around noon. We took the tube to our stop, got out and bustled along with other crowds and finally got out into the sun…our first sight was a close up of The Eye – London’s “ferris wheel” observatory. Adam and I oooed and aahhed for about five minutes, snapping pictures etc. We finally decide to turn around and head to our site only to be confronted with the huge sight of Big Ben! I even think I jumped back a bit when we first saw it, it was such a surprise! Well, of course, we continued our picture snapping for a few more minutes before heading toward the entry way for Westminster Abbey.
The Abbey is gorgeous, well worth the small fortune (Adam may be missing an arm…) to get in. It was remarkable seeing the place where so much history happened – coronations, weddings, and funerals. The height of the space was something to marvel at, much like Notre Dame, leaving us wondering if we ‘modern humans’ would be capable of such things today without modern machinery. The surrounding gardens and cloisters were also beautiful, the sky was a bit overcast but it made for pretty pictures – in my mind at least – because the green seemed that much more colorful. We were quite lucky at the end of our tour because we were among the last few let in to the nave where Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are entombed. Everyone else was left out due to a rehearsal taking place, we made sure to stick our tongues out at them and talk about how awesome the nave was upon exiting.
After Westminster Abbey we walked over to Buckingham Palace which, I hate to say, was not that awesome! Even though I have seen pictures of Buckingham, I thought it would be much nicer and more “queenly” in person but really it was just a big big house with gilded gates, huge fountain in front and, of course, a ton of people. We decided to not take the tour through the Palace and, instead, walked through St. James park stopping to eat in a quiet spot surrounded by beautiful trees and greenery.
After St. James we continued our walk into Hyde Park intending to walk around to Kensington Gardens…this however is a huge undertaking (thank goodness for the map at the entrance!) and we decided to hold off for another time.
Feeling adventurous and having plenty of time (or so we thought…ooh foreshadowing…) we decided to find a Burberry outlet store in Hackney. Well, we grabbed a tube to the nearest neighborhood on our maps (that’s right, the factory outlet was not even on our maps!) called Bethnel Green. Exiting the underground we quickly discover that the so called “New York Meat packing district of London” is a rough and shady place to be. Luckily for us our need for adventure had not been quashed (yet…) so we continued on, walking under graffiti (urban-art) covered overpasses, into the city of Hackney (emphasis “hack”). We ended up on a small street filled with houses and finally had to stop a nice looking 11 year old school girl (probably a drug dealer in disguise) to ask for directions which she, thankfully, was able to give.
Long story short (Adam is cutting in here…) Burberry = Fail. Do not attempt to recreate our journey. You will be tired, cranky, and in desperate need of a pint.
*Side note: Hackney is an up and coming area which, in Adam’s adventurous words “isn’t that bad”. (Mandy’s note – it was voted worst place to live in the UK in 2006) 😉
This entire journey left us about 20 minutes to get back to the hotel, grab a quick bite from the free canapes hour, and head out to meet our Pub Walk Tour. This ended up being a great time despite how tired we were, and we met some great folks during the excursion. Our tour-guide was fun and entertaining regaling us with tales of London’s famous “Fleet Street” (think Sweeney Todd) and the various pubs in the immediate area. The ones we visited for a pint were: The Devereux, “The Bank” (we can’t remember the actual name, but it was inside an old bank), and ended the night at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese where the likes of Dickens, Twain, Tennyson frequented.
That about sums up our Tuesday…we’ve been having a wonderful Wednesday and are saving all the details (The Tower! The London Eye!) for another post. Cheers!