Tuesday, December 18, 2012

London Walking Tour - Westminister & the West End

Having thoroughly enjoyed our two walking tours in Berlin and our photo tour in Brugge, we decided to give guided tours another chance in London. Turning to London Walks and their "London Tour" we set out to explore all of the city's iconic sites in Westminster and the West End.

Statue of Richard the Lionheart outside the Palace of Westminster

Elizabeth Tower (with Big Ben inside)
Arriving at the Westminster tube station, our tour meeting place, we emerged from underground at the base of the Elizabeth Tower, renamed this year for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Often confused for Big Ben, which is actually the nickname for the bell within the clock tower, this tower is likely London's most recognizable landmark. It felt incredible to be so close to such an iconic symbol, as though we were finally experiencing the "real" London, and our guide Tom had lots of fun facts to share about the tower as well as the Houses of Parliament overall.
Westminster Abbey

Sting's house

Prying our group away from Big Ben, Tom led us through Westminster to the famous Westminster Abbey, St. James' Park, and Buckingham Palace, including numerous stops of interest in between - we even saw Sting's House.

The view towards Horse Guards - No beach volleyball this time of year

The view towards Buckingham Palace

As we made our way toward Buckingham Palace, Tom pulled us aside to point out something quite unique. It seemed that luck was on our side as we were just in time to see guests arriving for an audience with the Queen. At first this didn't make much sense, however we were quickly informed that guests of the Queen do not simply drive up to the front gates of Buckingham Palace. Instead, they are transported via horse drawn carriage from St. James' Palace to Buckingham Palace entrance one block away, complete with police escort and a trumpeter to announce their arrival. As we stood along the sidewalk, we saw not one but two processions pass by followed by the changing of the Horse Guard.
A special guest gets to meet the Queen

Changing of the Horse Guard

Although the weather was a bit cold at times, we really enjoyed our tour and the new information we left with. London Walks offers an astounding number of tours, making it next to impossible to choose just one and ensuring there is something there for everyone. 

Buckingham Palace - voted ugliest building in London

A member of the Queen's Guard in their winter uniforms

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Hey there!

Calli and Travis returned from a four month trip through Europe more excited than ever to hit the open road. Who knows where they'll end up next...

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