Our third day in London was our day reserved for exploring historic iconic London -- all the things you "have" to see. We were tired of the Underground and decided to try the bus system. So worth it! In fact, I think we preferred that overall. Not as hot and it was so much fun to ride on the top deck of their double-decker busses and see London from up high. You miss all the shops and grafitti and trash and just get the beautiful buildings.
We never saw Lloyd's of London but did see plenty of branches of Lloyd's bank and he had to get a picture of one at least!
We got off the bus at Trafalgar Square. We didn't intend to stick around but realized that the National Gallery is right on the square so we decided to take a look.
As soon as we walked in and William saw that it was an art museum, he started to whine and cry and throw fits. We were able to get him through some of it but we didn't stay too long. It's too bad because the rest of us like art museums! Maybe he'll grow into it. And maybe not.
Their floors were done in wonderful mosaics with modern themes.
Some of our favorite pictures that we saw as we tried to hurry through -- this one of some lady in a fabulous dress sewing . . .
This one with a nun holding the original Monster Book of Monsters . . .
A Gustav Klimt that was a lot more traditional than some of his other work that I've seen . . .
Vincent Van Gogh of course is known for his Sunflowers (which we saw!) but Abby's favorite was his paintings of crabs. They did look delicious!
Our tour was limited but we gave it a thumbs up!
From Trafalgar Square we walked down towards Buckingham Palace. I don't even remember if it was open or not -- I think not. We decided not to do the Changing of the Guard because of the crowds and we didn't go in but it's a beautiful palace on the outside and the area around it is beautiful gardens and buildings as well.
By then it was already lunchtime and St. James park is right there so we found a Tesco and stocked up on picnic supplies and had a lunch in the park. Also, I had to take a picture with a red telephone booth! Iconic London!
Then another walk down another street looking at the surrounding buildings. We nixed the Churchill War Rooms museum (hot, a line to wait in, and we decided the kids wouldn't be too interested), and found Big Ben which for some reason I was very underwhelmed with. I don't know why I thought it would be bigger and red?
Then it was over to Westminster Abbey where we chose the shorter line in the sun and were rewarded by not having to wait very long!
There's only one room you can take pictures in -- kind of an annex or side chapel that is used for meetings and not for worship. They say you can't take pictures inside because it is a house of worship but no other church minds so I think it's to protect the tourist trade honestly. Every church we go to has "famous" people buried in it -- Bishops or other church leaders, important donors or patrons or people from the community -- but Westminster is STUFFED with statues and plaques and burial things. Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots are there as well as other nobility and royalty. You have notable politicians and poets and writers and church members and all sorts of stuff. It was crowded. Especially compare to St. Paul's -- there wasn't a lot of open space. We did explore Poet's Corner and that was fun but most of what's there are memorials to various writers of British literature, not their actual grave sites. Chaucer is buried there though. It was neat, I'm glad we saw it, but of all the churches we've been through, this one felt so much like a church dedicated to man and not to God. There was so much more of what is secularly important and not a lot that's religiously important. It didn't even really feel like a church.
These few pictures are from the side room that talks about preservation/restoration, etc.
After we left we found Abraham Lincoln! It didn't explain why there's a statue of him there.
Going over our options late in the afternoon we decided we had time for one more place and chose the Royal Mews. It was a good choice! For one thing, it was pretty much empty. It's not a high tourist hotspot. And the carriages were really neat to see and they had some good kids activities that they enjoyed so the whole thing was a plus for us.
This is a tiny carriage that would be pulled by a small pony or even a large dog to take a child over the grounds of the estate.
They had livery to try on and a horse that you could get into it's bridle and tack which Megan particularly enjoyed.
She was really interested in getting it right and William was more interested in changing it's oil apparently.
The gold state carriage -- rarely used and pretty magnificent!
As we walked back to the bus stop Chopper got a good picture with Big Ben on the right and the London Eye on the left. It was a great day exploring some of those things that London is known for and we were ready for dinner afterwards! We ate at a pub. Some of them don't allow children and some do. We decided we wanted to try all the classic foods -- it wasn't hard to start with fish and chips! But really, fried fish, french fries, and mushy peas are standard fare.
Last thing from that day -- we didn't see this picture but in the gift shop getting postcards they had this one: The Ugly Duchess. I had to send it to my artist sister-in-law because it's too funny! I just can't imagine a woman really looking like this and think that it must have been a joke of the artist! It is thought to be satirical and is rumored to be a source for the 1869 illustrations of the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland. The painting itself dates from 1514.