Home » Travel Blog » England and London in Two Days – Part III

Alright, literary genius is going out the window in the hopes that I can actually cover everything we did on Saturday. This might be more of a list than a recap. Here goes:

Early Saturday we pulled ourselves out of bed (still a bit sore from all of the walking about the day before) to begin our epic tour of London town. We caught the district line train to St. James Park where we exited a few blocks from Buckingham Palace. It was, unfortunately, one of the off days for the Guard so even though we were there on time, we didn’t get to see the Changing of the Guard. However we got a good look at the Palace and took some time to pop around to the Queen’s Gallery, a wonderful little museum of artifacts collected by the Royal Family over the years and now on display. The shop in the Queen’s Gallery is a great place to find some official Buckingham Palace souvenirs including replica china, linens and menus from Royal weddings.

Once we’d had our fill of the Royal Family, we made our way to London’s other seat of power, Parliament Square. On the way, we noticed a large crowd of people heading off the main road and, as I’ve discovered time and time again that following the crowds tends to lead to seeing something interesting, we followed as well. It turned out that the calvary guards were showing the horses in the horse parade ground, complete with funny hats and long red cloaks. It was quite exciting and we caught the tail end of the showcase. We were right around the corner from No. 10 Downing Street (although it was out of sight – visitors can’t walk down Downing Street) but the dominant features of the area included the heavy-hitters of any London tour, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, all situated right around the square.

We took advantage of the Big Ben photo-op to snap a few shots with the tower in the background then got in the queue for Westminster Abbey. We decided to take the full audio guided tour and it was an absolutely fantastic history lesson. Dozens of important Royal persons are buried in the Abbey while others have important memorials there. In addition, countless scientists, poets, musicians, writers and servicemen also have their final resting place in the Abbey and the sense of history in addition to the incredible architecture and ornate decoration made this an excellent place to spend a chunk of our morning.

Hunger was definitely setting in by the time we finished the Abbey tour so we made our way across the Thames to the Southbank and the London Eye were we grabbed a sandwich for lunch and enjoyed the view. Post-lunch, we made our way all the way along the Southbank, an area filled with street entertainment, shopping, cafes, parks, theatres and more. It was wonderfully sunny and not too cold even right along the Thames so there were a number of people out enjoying the riverside area. Although it was crowded, we made our way fairly quickly to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare Globe Theatre in my personal favourite area of London in Southwark.

The Millennium Bridge provided another great photo-op – the pedestrian bridge spans the river between the Tate Modern and St. Paul’s Cathedral which was an imposing backdrop along this part of our walking tour. From the centre of the Millennium Bridge, we could see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament westward down the river and the Tower Bridge to the east. With St. Pauls, the Gherkin, the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre as the landmarks on either side, it was certainly a what’s what of popular London landmarks.

While in Southwark, we detoured to the Borough Market and Southwark Cathedral. The Borough Market, which I’ve written about before, was quite busy as visitors enjoyed the local produce, meats and baked goods on display at the open air food market and locals did their food shopping. Southwark Cathedral is a slightly less well-known Cathedral almost directly across the river from St. Pauls but the building the Cathedral occupies has parts that are nearly 1000 years old and stands on top of ruins of a 1st century Roman road so it offers just as much history.

We were in view of the Tower Bridge and Tower of London by this point and we excited to see both of these monuments up close. The Tower of London was another location I hadn’t explored yet during my time in London and so none of us knew what to expect as we crossed over to the north side of the river by way of the Tower Bridge and bought our tickets for the Tower of London – famously home to the Crown Jewels and the bloody history of the Tower itself.

It was clear that we could have easily spent a half day or more at the Tower – which was less of a tower and more of a small village situated within ancient castle walls. There were dozens of buildings, all with historical importance, period recreated rooms, even a cafe and restaurant within the stone buildings. Of course we made our way fairly quickly to the Crown Jewels which are literally kept in a vault on the grounds (we walked through a large vault door – the kind you might see in movies – to get to where the jewels were kept). The orbs, sceptres, rings and crowns as well as the numerous other ornate memorabilia used at various royal coronations we absolutely exquisite, in particular the Sceptre with the Cross which includes the Star of Africa, the world’s second largest cut diamond and the largest cut white diamond. Fortunately, it wasn’t very crowded so we got to take our time enjoying the view of these priceless artifacts that are still used in modern coronations, the most recent being that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

We also got a look into the more bloody history of the Tower from the parts that served as prisons for serious offenders and political prisoners. The most famous cases were of course members of the royal family who were held or even killed in the tower including Anne Boleyn, Jane Grey and the two missing Princes who, evidence suggests, may have been put to death at the order of their uncle Richard II who would have been next in line for the throne.

By this point we had walked at least nine miles and were desperately in need of a pint, a seat, and a large plate of fish and chips. Fortunately, we had discovered just the place early on our walk along the South Bank, Horniman at Hays, a casual pub with a restaurant upstairs and very reasonably priced fish and chips platters. We ended up spending nearly two hours relaxing after our day, having drinks and snacks and finally ordering our dinner.

It was dark by the time we left and although it had been a long day and it was well into the evening, we weren’t quite ready to end our London day so took the Tube back toward the Top Floor Flat to visit a local pub nearer to home. In a much quieter, cozier corner of the local pub, we looked back at our pictures, and thought about all the things we had managed to cover in just two days in London.

The final list of places we visited for the entire two days included:

  • Windsor Castle
  • Windsor Town
  • Hyde Park
  • Kensington Palace
  • Albert Memorial
  • Royal Albert Hall
  • Exhibition Road
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Science Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • Harrods
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Nelson’s Column
  • Trafalgar Square
  • The Mall
  • National Gallery
  • Covent Garden
  • Lamb and Flag Pub
  • Leicester Square
  • Lilywhites
  • Fortnum and Masons
  • Kensington Church
  • Notting Hill
  • Churchill Arms Pub
  • St. James Park
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Queen’s Gallery
  • Parliament Square
  • Horse Parade Grounds
  • Downing Street
  • Big Ben
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Westminster Abbey
  • London Eye
  • Thames Walk
  • London South bank
  • Tate Modern
  • Millennium Bridge
  • Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
  • St. Pauls Cathedral
  • Borough Market
  • Southwark Cathedral
  • City Hall
  • London Bridge
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • Horniman at Hays Pub
  • Gherkin
  • H.M.S. Belfast

Not bad for England and London in two days!

Take a look at the places we visited on Saturday! Click for a Google map with pinpoints marking all the places we visited.

8 thoughts on “England and London in Two Days – Part III

  1. […] England and London in Two Days – Part III | The Top Floor Flat […]

  2. Sujeet says:

    WOW! That is a lot of stamina for a lot of walking. Kudos to y’all for your motivation! Hope y’all have a lot of pictures and fond memories!

    Later,
    Sujeet

  3. […] I will be updating the strong class=keywordGoogle/strong Cash System blog shortly so stay tuned! England and London in Two Days – Part III – thetopfloorflat.com 03/17/2009 Alright, literary genius is going out the window in the hopes that […]

  4. Rosemary says:

    A wonderful read, thank you. What a lot you crammed into the time, living up to the American ‘doing Europe’ stereotype . Your friends were fortunate to have such an informed guide.

    The Parade Grounds you write of are, I think, Horse Guards Parade where the annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony marks the Queen’s official birthday in June. The Queen uses a carriage rather than riding these days but other royals are mounted. You can view the parade from The Mall if you can’t get onto Horse Guards itself.

  5. Rosemary says:

    PS I put a ‘grin’ after the word stereotype but it hasn’t appeared – so here’s another :-)

  6. Meaghan says:

    @Rosemary

    Thanks so much! I was a bit nervous about my ability to showcase the whole city but I think we did alright!

    Yeah, we saw all the horses and I made a guess as to where we were and that makes sense! It was quite exciting to see them all there :)

    Hope you’re doing well!!

    Meg

  7. […] was in London for a few days between Oxford and Cambridge jaunts. Selecting some favourites from my London in 48 Hours tour, we raced around the city on her first day, then took advantage of the sunny weather to head out to […]

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