Saturday, September 8, 2007

Touring London

On day 2 in London, Jennie and I were off on the Original London Sightseeing Tour on a double-decker bus! We got an excellent overview of this incredible city as there are many historical sites to see! We also had the most unbelievable weather (sunny skies and 80 degrees)!! I even got a sunburn in London....who gets a sunburn in London when the weather is traditionally gray skies and rain!!?? It was a blessed trip!

There is so much to see in London so I will only give you a quick overview. Some of the highlights included:

* Piccadilly Circus - The famous traffic intersection and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster. Built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly.

* Trafalgar Square - Square in London that commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars. The original name was to have been "King William IIII's Square", but George Ledwell Taylor suggested the name "Trafalgar Square".

* Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament - Big Ben does not refer to the whole clocktower, but to the huge 13 ton bell that strikes the hour. Unfortunately Big Ben was being serviced so we were unable to hear the bell. It was still an incredible site to see. I had no idea it was so BIG!!!

* Westminster Abbey - Benedictine monks first came to this site in the middle of the 10th century, establishing a tradition of daily worship which continues to this day. The Abbey has been the coronation church since 1066 and is the final resting place of 17 monarchs.

* Buckingham Palace

* St. Paul's Cathedral - A Cathedral dedicated to St. Paul has overlooked London since 604AD. This is also the location where Princess Diana was married.

* The London Bridge - It was the only bridge over the Thames in London until Westminster Bridge was opened in 1750. On the south side of the bridge is Southwark Cathedral and London Bridge station. On the north side is the Monument to the Great Fire of London and Monument tube station. And it is still standing! HA!

* Tower Bridge - A suspension bridge over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, which gives it its name. It has become an iconic symbol of London and is sometimes mistakenly called London Bridge, though London Bridge is in fact the next bridge upstream.

* Tower of London - Founded nearly a millennium ago and expanded upon over the centuries since, the Tower of London has protected, housed, imprisoned and been for many the last sight they saw on Earth. It has been the seat of British government and the living quarters of monarchs. The site of renown political intrigue, and the repository of the Crown Jewels. It has housed lions, bears, and (to this day) flightless ravens not to mention notorious traitors and framed members of court, lords and ministers, clergymen and knights.

Crown Jewels are kept in a Jewel House at the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels are the ceremonial treasures which have been acquired by English kings and queens, mostly since 1660. The collection includes not only the regalia used at coronations, but also crowns acquired by various monarchs, church and banqueting plate, orders, insignia, robes, a unique collection of medals and Royal christening fonts.

The Imperial State Crown:
* The London Eye - Opened in 2000, the British Airways London Eye is the world's tallest observation wheel at 135m high. Located on the banks of the River Thames it offers unrivalled views over London. It was really one of the coolest things we did on our trip to the UK! We were put in one of the 32 fully air-conditioned capsules for our 30 minute ride and spectacular panorama of the city of London! WOW!

It goes without saying that after a day like this....we needed some sleep!

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