|Our conquest of Great Britain began June 23rd when we arrived at London Heathrow airport, which is about 20 minutes outside the city on the tube. Our flight arrived in the evening, so after the hour and forty-five minute ride to our hostel we decided to explore our hostel's surrounds a bit. We settled on a Donner Kebap for dinner, which is a middle-Eastern fast food place that I loved to go to in Spain. We had planned to do all our tourism the following day, Saturday, so we went back to the hostel and got some rest for upcoming Saturday's adventures. This is our story.
|We got into the city and, after finding a breakfast place, began exploring the busy London streets. At this point it was still early in the day, which meant that the streets were pleasantly not super-crowded, but as a downside not a whole lot of things were open yet.
Our walk brought us back to the London metro system, locally referred to as "the Tube." All one needs is a map of the city with tube stops marked and transportation is a breeze (though going from one end of the city to the other still does take time). Our morning's destination: Buckingham Palace.
|The Tube stop we had selected brought us out on the edge of a huge park. We knew we were close, so we just started walking.
|Given that we were right next to Buckingham Palace, the real estate in the area was quite upper crust.
|Once we got through the park we found the palace right on the edge. There was a statue in front that was surrounded by pillars with (I think) titles of different former British colonies.
|All the grass was manicured to perfection, so we couldn't help taking a little stroll through the flower bed. We had to leg it when the feds showed up, leading to a four-hour hideout inside the bell tower of Big Ben and the largest manhunt Britain had seen since Jack the Ripper. That last part was a lie. The grass was all pristine, though.
|We continued along the palace and then made the "Walk of Wales," commemorating Princess Diana, which goes along a lake next the the palace. This brought us up close to the river Thames and all the yonder exciting things.
|Big Ben was found in the clock tower of the House of Parliament.
|Across the street from the Houses of Parliament was Westminster Abbey, which was a very impressive church. There was a park out front with various statues, including one of Abraham Lincoln.
|We wandered down along all the impressive buildings and then crossed the river on the Lambeth Bridge and had a walk down the other side of the river. We wandered around a bunch before deciding to move on. It was time again for the Tube.
|Our next stop was the Tower of London, which has its own Tube stop and so was easy enough to get to. The Tube stop lets you out across the street from the actual tower but with a great view. Also, located just outside the stop are the remains of a Roman wall and a statue of some emperor.
|We walked under the road separating us from the tower and got a close(r) up look. We didn't want to pay for entry (stuff in London was kind of expensive) so we just observed from without to our hearts' content. On the south side of the tower is London Bridge, which we crossed to explore more before settling for our next destination: The British Museum.
|Before going to the British Museum we actually decided to eat, so we went back to the place where we were going to eat breakfast (it had been closed) since they were supposed to have killer deals on pizza, which did not disappoint. The British Museum was within walking distance from there so we plotted our next course.
|We spent several hours in the museum, which was of course not hard to do. We spent most of our time in the Classical, Native American, Korean, and Egyptian sections.
|After being at the museum for a few hours we decided to leave so we could find a place to go to church. We settled on St. James church, located a healthy walk north and east of the museum. The church was incredible, all the more so because it was just nestled right in the center of a city block.
|After Mass we began the long search for our evening sustenance. We walked back to the nearest Tube stop (the church was located in something of a Tube stop wasteland) looking for places along the way, but nothing caught our fancy. We turned to our Let's Go guide map, which had several recommendations. We chose one and figured out how to get there, but once we found the place we realized the place wasn't actually open. There was another place nearby that turned out to be great, so we were pleased as punch..
|By the time we had finished eating it was about half past 8 and we had to get back to our hostel to arrange our checking-out since we had to leave super early the next morning. We did all of our checking out and arranged for a taxi with no problem (apart from having to get up at 4am).
And you know the rest. The following day, Sunday, we got out and found our taxi outside, who took us to the airport with plenty of time to explore a bit and make our flight, which got us home safe and sound after a connection in Chicago.