I must start my post with bad news. We have realized that “authentic” pub we had fish and chips at yesterday is actually a chain restaurant. So, our first real meal in London, was pretty much like eating at a McDonalds. Truth be told, I’m not even close to disappointed, that vegetarian fish and chips was still the bomb-diggity!
This morning we made our way to meet a hop-on hop-off bus; this involved walking very confidently for a while, and then standing on a corner confused for five minutes until a nice Londoner stopped to help us out. He let us know that we were about a block shy of where we needed to be to meet the bus.
We hopped on and got do drive past (and got crooked pictures of) many interesting sites! Including:
The Natural History Museum, where the word Dinosaur was invented.
Big Ben; although he was a little bit covered up currently.
And the Krispy Kreme of Fleet Street.
Actually, we got to drive past a lot of the landmarks of city; it’s just hard to get a good picture sometimes. But we really did spend most of our time exclaiming and poineting at different buildings. We’re total tourist!
We hopped off the bus at St. Paul’s Cathedral. So, here’s the thing about St. Paul’s- it keeps getting burnt down! First in 962 AD, and in 1087, rebuilding was delayed in 1136 because of a fire, the spire was destroyed by lighting in 1561, and finally it burned down in the Great London Fire in 1666. It was even hit by at least two bombs in the Blitz of World War 2.
The Cathedral we see now was designed by Sir Christopher Wren starting in 1668. Wren is also known for designing at least 50 city churches around London after the Great Fire. Interestingly, after it was done some people didn’t care for it, thinking it too ostentatious and not “English” enough.
After marveling at the main level for a good long while, and staring up at the dome, we headed down into the crypt. Not only do they have, you know… graves, down there, but also the cutest little gift shop, and café, and a tea room. Since we missed out on afternoon tea yesterday, we decided to have it today instead. And why not have tea in the crypt of a famous church? Pictured here is the lovely tea services, and the carnage we left behind.
After tea Melinda did what all travelers have to do at some point in their lives, and that’s climb a dome. Now, I did my dome climbing at St. Peter’s in Rome on my first trip overseas, so I feel both fulfilled and informed enough to know I don’t want to do it again. So, while Melinda did the hard work of climbing over 500 stairs, I did the less hard work of watching her stuff.
After exiting the church, we headed through some old gates into what turned out to be the financial district. The area itself is pretty straight forward so we were intrigued by the number of police they had in the area. We decided to just ask one of the officers, and he told us it was something they do around the city all the time. They will randomly set up with a lot of officers in one area, it is chance to make sure everything in that area is safe, but it also gives them a chance to talk to the people and let them know that they are around and how to reach them if they see anything happening. With all the attacks London has experience in the last few years, I think this is a really smart way to not only show what kind of force they police have, but also get involved in the community. The officer actually chatted with for quite a while, asking about our trip and what we thought of London so far. They really are lovely people, these Londoners!
From there Melinda wanted to check out a really old pub called Blackfriars; so, we walked about a half mile to the pub, only to find it completely sardined with people. Since there wasn’t really a place for us to sit and enjoy a treat we headed on our way.
We had planned to walk to the next stop to meet the bus, but were distracted when we spotted the Millennium Bridge.
From there, we were going to find the next next stop, but were again distracted by the Globe Theater.
On our way to the Globe we were distracted by a row of cute houses. (We spend a lot of time being distracted.) Okay, so here’s what’s cool. We went to check out the row of houses and discovered that the central building was once the home of Christopher Wren, the dude who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral! How crazy is that! I mean, I’m sure there are a lot of tour guides and other people who know where he lived, but we just happened upon it! I geeked out a little.
Then we visited the Globe Theater and its gift shop. We both kind of geeked out over being at the actual Globe Theater… until we realized this was just replica that had been built in the mid-nineties. We really should have realized it sooner, it was in way to good of shape to be as old as we thought it was. But it was still fun to see!
We ended up heading into a Starbucks after that to warm up and figure out our next step. We talked about going to the London Eye, but then decided that the cost was a little extravagant for a Ferris wheel. (Whew! I’m still not a fan of Ferris wheels, and I’m happy to skip it here. Although I’m sure the views are spectacular.)
What we decided to do instead was try and catch the show at Royal Albert Hall. Today they were showing Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo. This was a huge deal for me because I’ve never gotten a to see a Cirque show before, but it has always been on my wish list. And, we got to see it the Royal Albert Hall! COME ON! This was an experience of a lifetime!
The show itself was so mesmerizing! Our seats were pretty high up, because we just got the cheapest tickets we could, but it didn’t matter because we could still see the show. I spent the whole two hours with my mouth open, just staring. It was quite literally jawdropping!
It was a day that’ll I’ll never forget!