The last stop on our visit to Europe was London. The flight from Copenhagen was fine, except for our checked bag which decided to take an extra ½ day to get there. We weren’t worried about it, but the umbrella inside it would have been nice to have on the one day of drizzle in our entire time in London!
Our hotel was across from Hyde Park, between Paddington Station and Notting Hill, not far from Kensington Gardens. It took us a bit to find our way to the Underground (“Mind the gap!”) from the Paddington Express from Heathrow, but we found the Underground very manageable, particularly with our reloadable Oyster Cards. After getting situated in our hotel room, we walked a bit and then had a quiet Italian meal at De Amicis.
On our rainy day, we made our way over to the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square, followed by the British Museum. We had a great lunch at the Museum Tavern (a “proper” pub), then wrapped up the day walking around Buckingham Palace grounds and St. James Park.
the Museum Tavern, our table at the end of the bar
Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace
Thursday morning we set off for the Tower of London using the Hop-On-Hop-Off double decker bus tour. Our second stop was St. Paul’s Cathedral. Part of the tour inside was the large rotunda and of course the dome. 250 steps up took us to the balcony ring above the floor of the cathedral, and an additional 120 steps took us to the outside base of the dome. 150 more steps up a winding staircase brought me to the top of the dome and an outstanding view of the neighborhood and the ground below.
view from the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral dome
Later we went to Churchill’s War Room (we watched Darkest Hour before our trip, in preparation) which was a real treat. The use of multimedia with the self-guided tour throughout the exhibit was really well done, and even after 2½ hours we had more to see, but needed to leave for Westminster Abbey right nearby.
After a brief walk around the inside of Westminster Abbey, we settled in with a small crowd of worshippers and partook in the Evensong choral service. The music was outstanding, and we were sure to include Her Majesty the Queen in the prayer 😉
We left from here and went eastward out past West Ham to where my college buddy Marty lives, along with Jonathan and flatmate Cecile. Quite a few laughs were had (it’d been 34 years!!) while we enjoyed delicious homemade oyster stew followed by fish on the grill. We finally had to call it a night and got back to our hotel after midnight.
Friday morning we took the railway to Windsor Castle, with St. George’s Chapel. I wish we had been allowed to take pictures within St. George’s, because not too much later after our visit the wedding of Harry and Meghan was held there, and it was fun to see everything in that context.