Thursday, July 30, 2015

Off to Will and Kate's House!

Tuesday, June -3-15

      We had the good fortune of our flat being a mere 20 minutes walking distance from Kensington Palace. Yep, that's right, William and Kate were practically our neighbors, or rather, would have been, had they not recently moved from  KP in favor of new digs of their own north of London. Still, KP has been the home of (among others who date way back) Charles and Diana, and their sons William and Harry (Harry supposedly lives nearby on the property in a "cottage", which I'm sure isn't a cottage as we are like to think!), Sarah Ferguson, Queen Victoria, her Prince Albert and her many children.     

     I really liked the architecture of Kensingtion; it's homey and inviting and a tad more "modern" in appearance  than other royal palaces. The grounds are beautifully maintained with gardens, an orangery, hedge maze and a sunken garden. (And that's just the east side, where the tourists are allowed.) Kensington Palace also sits at the far end of Hyde Park, a lovely place to stroll, sit with a book or just reflect in the English sun as you hang out by the palace. There's a peaceful feel to Kensington, and even though the tour isn't as grand as at the other palaces', it's still a lovely experience to visit.

    The most difficult part of our day was finding the gate that actually let you in to the palace. It's not that it's hidden, it's just not marked. We weren't the only tourists walking aimlessly around the building, but once 10am came around, the ticket takers appeared and we were in! (For those of you going, it's on the East side of the building.)

    The tour is divided into four sections..the King's State Apartments, The Queen's State Apartments, Victoria Revealed and finally, "The Royal Moderns" which frankly contained only two to three small rooms with cases of the dresses that Queen Elizabeth I, her sister, Margaret and Princess Diana wore. Still, I was thrilled to see Diana's dresses especially. Now, I knew she was tall and thin, but I never realized how thin she was until I saw the size of those dresses. I think you can see for yourself in the pics, but I was shocked at how tiny in girth she actually was.

     Pictures are below:

We've Arrived!
Matt and I in front of the gate that saw the tribute to Princess Diana many years ago.

We found the visitors' entrance!
Palace Gift Shop which we will return to in a few days.

Old time piano inside Queen's State Rooms

At least the wearer of this dress always has a place to set her drink!
Table and Chairs in Queen Sate Rooms
View of gardens from Queen's Rooms.
Queen Anne's writing desk.

Queen's Gallery where she'd walk for exercise.
Queen Anne's Bed where she gave birth to the next heir.
Gambling Tables in King's State Rooms
Queen Victoria's Dominoes
Diana's Actual Dresses
Maze Garden on East Side of the Palace


Aren't these A-MAZE-ING?

View looking out the entrance

The Sunken Garden

Arched walkway around Sunken Garden
Statue of Queen Victoria
Bye, bye Kensington!

 Stay tuned for the next blog, when we continue on with more activities from today, including visiting Diana's Memorial Pool!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Go West! (Minster) Part II

June 29th, Continued...

     So, this turned out to be our busiest day in London...

     Having spent a wonderful morning at Westminster Abbey, we proceeded to find somewhere for lunch,all the while taking in the sites of Big Ben and the House of Parliament.  I'll skip the sordid details, but the conclusion was that Dan and I will never go on The Amazing Race together, or if we did, we'd be the most entertaining couple on there, and not in a good way. Suffice to say that after much walking and getting lost, we finally found a recommended pub on our list to eat lunch at (thank you Rick Steves for producing amazing travel books with superb recommendations!).  We ate at the Red Lion Tavern where Matt enjoyed fish and chips, and Dan and I had ham sandwiches...he liked his better than I did. But, the tavern was adorable, and we loved how the locals were sipping summer shandies at lunchtime.

   After lunch, and refreshed, happy and rejuvenated, we walked the road along St. James Park to Buckingham Palace, which is much more glamorous in real life than photographs. Where the edging along the building looks dark and black in pictures, it's truly gold and stunning. The Queen was in residence during the week we were in London and therefore BP is not open for tours, but it was still fun to actually stand at the gates and admire.

  After BP, we walked back on the other side of St. James Park, leading us to Trafalgar Square in all it's magnificence, and then we completed our walk back to the Tube and passed The Horse Guards Arch and Parades where the royal horses are readied for events. We also passed the Churchill War Rooms (which we did not go in, but I would have liked to.) For some reason, and this was the source of our frustration earlier in the day, we could not find Downing St, and therefore could not find the Prime Minister's digs, but we'll just put it on the list for next time.

Big Ben

House of Parliament

Pub we had lunch at.

Downstairs in the pub.

That beer was not as big as it appears.

St. James Park

Buckingham Palace

Ditto (where it appears black on the building, it's actually gold!)

Another view.

Seriously, can we get a photo without other tourists running into it?

BP Gardens

St. James Park and Big Ben

Statue outside BP

A shot from the road
Archways to Trafalgar Square Area

Trafalgar Square and more tourists!

View of street from Traf. Sqaure

Statue in Trafalgar Square
Matt at statue in T. Square

More from T. Square

Read and see below

Beautiful monument in memory of those lost in Bali Terrorist Attack

Horse Guard Palace


Next Blog: Kensington Palace and Diana's Memorial Wading Pool