The next morning we set out to take London.
After another trek through the Tube, we arrived close to Trafalgar Square and awed at the massive lion statues. In the distance through the towering buildings, Mama spied Big Ben. “Look!” she said out of excitement! The rest of us turned and in Griswold fashion said, “Big Ben!” We had our bags over our bodies and cameras at the ready as we wandered through the city admiring the hustle and bustle of London.
We moseyed our way to the River Thames where we boarded a City Cruise ship. The man with the microphone pointed out buildings of interest and kept us laughing with vulgar jokes and British slang.
The temperature continued to drop on the water and shivers slowly took over our bodies. The weather called for Sunday to be the best weather day of the trip. Well, the weatherman lied. With the wind blowing in our hair and cold river water spraying occasionally, our once sunny outlook on London slowly turned grey. I packed a cardigan to cover my bare shoulders and nothing on my feet except a pair of sandals. That’s the thing about English/Irish/Scottish weather, whatever the weather man tells you, do not believe him. My parents and sister learned that the hard way. Poor Payton was in shorts and my parents only had a raincoat as a jacket!
Weather you tricky temptress.
That entire afternoon was spent in the Tower of London. I mean, the ENTIRE afternoon. The four of us went from building to building looking at the exhibits and taking in the medieval structure. Daddy and I are the history buffs and I specifically studied English history in college; the Tower of London was a little heaven for us. Room after room, knight after armored knight, horses and crown jewels and a model of an old zoo later, we were exhausted. We looked at just about every exhibit possible in the Tower of London and loved every minute of it.
As the day in the city came to a close, we took the ferry back to the Westminster stop to get a good look at the surrounding area. We were able to get pictures with the iconic clock tower and then fight our way back to the hotel. Unlucky for us, one of the underground stops that we needed to get on was closed, so we had to walk a ways. The day ended ok with us a little tired and ready for bed.
Monday morning our family wandered to out into London looking to see/do as much as humanly possible. On the menu for the day was Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Baker Street, and Platform 9 3/4. But first thing that morning was Westminster Abbey.
With all of our bags on our backs, we trekked over to the area we had been in the night before. Because we invested in the London Pass, we didn’t have to wait in the super long line to get into the Abbey. If you are going to be doing LOTS of stuff in London, I recommend the London Pass! It gets you through lines faster and gets you discounts on most of the main attractions!! We were walking through the Abbey looking at the grand architecture and reading everything when a blonde headed boy said, “Payton?!”
It turned out to be one of the kids from church that had moved away! How crazy is that?! In the middle of Westminster Abbey in London freaking England, we ran into old family friends. They were on a family vacation to England and decided to start their day in the Abbey like we had.
It is a small world after all.
After Westminster Abbey, we made our way to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. Everything was going great; we had a front row view! Trumpets blared, drums pounded, and guards marched all moving towards Buckingham Palace. Like countless other tourists in the area, I was filming the show. About that time, a bee flew in and landed on my hand. Panic overcame my body. Countless people stood in very close proximity to me, so if I swatted the bee off, someone would have been stung. I chose to stay motionless. I could feel the bee’s legs tickle my palm and wrist as it moved across my hand. The moment was so crazy that I was laughing and crying at the same time. People around us began to turn and stare wondering why this American girl was crying at the changing of the guards. Because of a bee, that’s why. In the end, no one was stung, but it made for an amazing story.
We practically ran from Buckingham Palace after that fiasco. We headed towards Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The first part of the afternoon was spent wandering through flower gardens and walking past fountains. The four of us walked and walked and walked some more. There was talk of mutiny we were walking so much! That doesn’t mean that we didn’t see some beautiful things though.
To finish our time in London, Payton and I had to be fan girls. Payton and I looked on the tube map and devised a plan to get us back to Victoria Station all the while hitting Baker Street and King’s Cross Station.
She and I may or may not be in love with Sherlock, so the first stop was 221B Baker St. We didn’t exactly tell our parents why we wanted to get off on Baker Street so bad. I just kept telling them, “We have to go there ok?” Eventually she and I broke down and told our parents that we wanted to go find Sherlock’s house. They sighed and agreed to let us go. Payton and I ran from the Baker Street stop down Baker Street looking for the wonderful 221B. We looked around the shop, took a picture, and left happy.
After Sherlock, we headed to King’s Cross to find Platform 9 3/4. She and I have both read and seen all the Harry Potters. A trip to London is not complete without imagining for one second that you actually are a witch or wizard! Payton and I even got into a spell battle for a moment! 😉
Our trip to London came to an end. Aside from a few hick-ups, our trip was incredible. Much like the Griswold’s, our family has a tendency to find ourselves in interesting situations. I hope Daddy, Mama, and Payton enjoyed the Cantrell Family European vacation, and I cannot wait for many more.