What would be going England, with out seeing the famous sights of London?
And with a little pressure from me, I convinced Rob to spend his birthday, in London, with me!
We left early Tuesday morning, and with the bad weather and roads, we left even earlier. We got on the train in Wolverhampton and had to change in Birmingham, and just our luck, when we arrived our next train into London had been cancelled. Luckily we only had to wait 20 minutes and we could catch another train. This also gave us the chance to go into Birmingham and check it out, and it was just like another other big city! But at least I can say I was there. We finally got into London at around noon and was able to check in to our hotel right away. We hoped back on to the complex and very impressive subway trains and headed straight towards Buckingham Palace. The palace was so incredible and beautiful, even on a cloudy, snowy and windy day! This is when we found out about the riots going on in central London! The university students were rioting due to the increased tuition costs - nearly 10,000 Pound per year. We did not see much rioting, only about 100 students walking through one of the parks. We DID however see a ton of police! Not sure if I felt safer and in more danger.
The Palace was definitly a highlight of the trip, but it was one of those things that once I saw it, I was happy to move on!
We walked by Parliment house and St. Stephens tower which houses Big Ben, so I never actually got to see Big Ben. The tower is definitely a lot shorter then I expected, but the architure of the whole building by far exceded my expectations.
The weather the whole day was pretty crap. Very windy and very snowy, and of course, quite cold - not ideal touring weather, but we made the best of it. We got tickets to go on the London Eye which we went on just before sunset. The whole trip takes about 30 minutes so we got to see London in the daylight on the way up, and at night time on the way down. It was very cool to see all of London, but I wouldn't want to be on there any longer then the 30 minutes, it was quite boring by the end of it and I was happy to disembark.
After the London eye there wasn't much more time to do anything else, so we headed into Picadilly Circus, a popular area in London that houses lots of shops, restaurants and bars. It was like the Times Square of London. We ended up meeting up with 2 friends in London that I actually met in Australia and traveled with quite a bit including randomly seeing each other in Indonesia!! Gethin is Welsh and Brid is Irish, and we had a great time! Gethin always knows where the cheap drinks are and they took us to some really neat pubs.
Wednesday was another busy day, and again with not the greatest weather. We started off going to St. Paul's cathedral which was absolutly incredible! The history, the murals, the whispering wall and the crypts were all so amazing. We easily spent over 2 hours there, and I could have spent more time there. It was a very peaceful and relaxing place to be. Plus I also learning of all the events that take place at the cathedral that I never knew of - royal weddings, memorials and funerals.
Next we headed over to the London Towers - which I had no idea what they were about. In fact, I just thought it was one tower, but no, there are 19! (I think!) As in Warwick castle, there were many uses for the Towers, but mainly, and most historical, is the prison and torture of the prisoners that occurred there. Anyone and everyone was brought here in the 16th and 17th centuries, including Elizabeth I (as a prisoner) before she became queen. The other famous reason for the Towers is that the Crown Jewels are kept there. We walked through and saw them all, not sure if they are real or not, but either way, there are some impressive crowns in there!! We spent over 4 hours going through the towers and were some of the last people to leave! It is so big and just so much to see, and SO much to take in. By the end of the day I was in information overload! We did have intentions of going to the London dungeons, but did not have enough time as we had a train to catch.
This train was of course late, by over an hour, and we didn't get back to Rob's till close to 10pm. And we had to get up at 4am to take me to the airport. The weather was so bad in the UK and Europe that there were airports closed. I was delayed an hour leaving Birmingham, and an hour delayed boarding in Amsterday with a 3 hour wait on the runway at the gate due to weather, waiting for the ground crew to get everything done and waiting to get de-iced! It was a VERY long flight home, but overall, a great trip!