England: Lovely London

By Wednesday, November 16, 2016 , , , ,

I think I might have delayed this last official post about my England adventures because, after all, how am I supposed to follow the Downton Abbey visit? Hard to top, right? But honestly, though it was a definite highlight, afterwards, it was nice to have a few days to focus on our immediate surroundings after so many train rides both in Derbyshire and for traveling out to Jane Austen’s house, Oxford, and Highclere Castle. And London was delightful with so much to see. We spent two full days there, crammed in as much of the typical touristy stuff as possible, and it was beyond worth it. For your first time in London, just accept the tourist label and enjoy yourself. It’s a beautiful city with an unbelievable amount of history – soak it all in to the fullest! Here are the highlights in pictures of lovely London for me.

Is it even London without a red phone booth picture? Having Big Ben in the background was such a bonus.

I never got tired of staring at this ornate old clock tower. It just begs to be looked at and photographed from every possible angle.
 The scaffolding was rather a shame, but I still thoroughly enjoyed staring at Parliament as well. It was such a dream to stand on the Westminster Bridge snapping these pictures!

The London Eye looked pretty picturesque against the skyline as well. We had to skip riding it this trip, but next time for sure! 

The Cabinet War Rooms were quite fascinating! They've been so well preserved since their daily use during WWII that it was like stepping into a time capsule.

We took a ride down the Thames River to the Tower of London! It looks pretty formidable as it comes into view!

The famous Tower Bridge over the Thames

Gotta keep it authentic inside the Tower grounds!

It's SO, SO big. Took my breath away!

As a new Harry Potter fan, I was tickled to see Platform 9 3/4! And on September 1st, no less! I'm coming for you, Harry! :)

Hello, Lord Nelson! This pillar to his memory famously marks Trafalgar Square, one of the most iconic locations in London. It was certainly one of my favorite spots! It has such a quintessentially British view with Big Ben in the distance and is constantly bustling with businessmen, talented street musicians, and awestruck tourists (Exhibit A: me).

The lions at the base of the Lord Nelson column are also an iconic part of Trafalgar Square. They are MASSIVE and so impressive!

The red buses always added such a nice London-ish touch to the pictures!

This is the beautiful St. James's Park! It was such a soothing, colorful area to walk when we had a bit of time to relax.

Piccadilly Circus behind us!
Yes, lucky us, we got to see inside Her Majesty's "London Office" as she calls it! It was absolutely stunning. And also lucky for us was the fashion exhibit that was running at the time: a collection of Queen Elizabeth's dresses from throughout her reign all on display! Her coronation dress and wedding dress were unbelievable. 
Watching the guard change was such a thoroughly British treat.

 Photo courtesy of our fantastic tour guide, Josh. 

I've saved the churches for last because they're my favorites. First was Westminster Abbey. It's one of the most well-known sites in London and consistently makes the lists of top tourist attractions. It's the place where Prince William and Kate Middleton were wed and has served as the coronation site for British royals for hundreds of years. Multitudes of famous scholars, royals, politicians, and arts experts now lie buried there. I knew I would find the place fascinating, but I was quickly overwhelmed and awed by the history contained in it and the beauty of it all. I'd begun to notice earlier in the week that the British take their churches very seriously. The architecture is breathtaking, careful thought is clearly put into every bit of them, and the inscriptions and art evoke such reverence. Every church I entered in England commanded respect almost instantly, and Westminster Abbey gave that vibe many times over. What's more, so many of the people buried there have influenced me personally, which heightened my sense of gravity immensely. William Wilberforce, David Livingstone, William Pitt, George Frideric Handel, and countless others all lie there, and it was incredible to see. I might have cried.

This is the side entrance, known as the west side, I believe. Hard to decide which I like better, but I usually lean toward this one.

The front, or north, entrance, where Kate Middleton entered on her wedding day.

Just couldn't stop taking pictures. So beautiful.

See what I mean by thoughtful, meaningful inscriptions? I just love it.

Now for St. Paul's Cathedral. Where Westminster Abbey is classic and reverent, St. Paul's is bold and enchanting. The architecture draws heavily from Roman influences rather than the Gothic style seen in Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, and it was awe-inspiring to look at. I think I stood stock-still in the main foyer for good minute or two just gazing at the huge ceilings, colossal pillars, and intricate carvings. Everything about it is so big, audacious, and captivating. I had to stand way across the street for many of these pictures in order to get any of the green dome within the camera frame. And the view from the top of the dome is supposedly the best in London! We had to skip that part this time, but it'll be a priority next time, without a doubt!

This statue of Queen Anne was sufficiently imposing, making her fit in well with the rest of the atmosphere.

London, you're a new favorite. England, I love you more than ever and shall return. Thank you, readers, for following my adventures in this land so dear to my heart! I'm sure there will be flashbacks in future posts. :)

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