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London Calling Part III

Please read the Part I and Part II of my experience if you haven’t already. This is a continuation of that experience.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London. It is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of statues and sculptures in the square, with one plinth displaying changing pieces of contemporary art. The square is also used for political demonstrations and community gatherings, such as the celebration of New Year’s Eve.

Trafalgar Square is in the centre of London. Here you can walk along the famous Strand and go past The Savoy Hotel, or go the opposite direction and the Ancient Saint Martin-in The Field Church. Beneath it, is located a nice Coffee bar/ cafeteria/art shop set among original Tomb stones. The statues and fountains in it are beautiful.

There are lots of people sitting everywhere. Despite the number of people, it never felt crowded or overwhelming in any way, rather I found the square to have an oddly calming effect.

When you were there, the Olympic countdown clock was in display .

Covent Garden

Covent Garden is a popular shopping and tourist site, and the Royal Opera House. It’s beautiful, vibrant, and there are a lot of talents—opera, rock and roll singers, magicians, street performers, etc. very fun. There are so many things to see and do, eat and taste. We ate Paella and it was so yummy.

The little market at one end of Covent Garden is full of souvenir and little gifts. The shops themselves are more up market and you can find some more interesting stuff.

Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben 

While we were in London, we were there every day. I think we spent so much time on Westminster Bridge that I have hundreds of photos with backdrop of Big Ben, Parliament house and London eye. 🙂

 The House of Parliament looks so stunning. We got so many photos in front of it as well. The building is beautiful, inside and out with a very rich history to add character to the whole experience.

Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and is generally extended to refer to the clock and the clock tower as well. The clock tower holds the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world and is the third-tallest free-standing clock tower.

 Westminster Abbey

I was really looking forward to seeing the Abbey since I really liked it when I saw in during Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.

As we had a London Pass, we had free entry to the Abbey but normally you need to pay to get in. The architecture is impressive on both exterior and interior. It is a beautiful building.

The Abby was founded in AD 960 as a Benedictine monastery and is now part of the Church of England. Each visitor is given a map and audio device at the Information Desk in the north transept. Each room is numbered to correspond with the device so visitors can meander at their own pace.

It has the tombs of so many famous royals like Mary and Elizabeth’s tomb, Mary of Scot’s Tomb, Longshank’s Tomb as well as famous poets and writers like T.S. Eliot, William Wordsworth, D.H. Lawrence. Before I went there I had no idea that it was the final resting place for so many people; I had thought it was like a church where people go to pray.

One cannot help but step on memorials as they’re laid out on the floor. Apparently Winston Churchill refused to be buried there saying “I’ve had people walk all over me in life, why have it done in death”.

We also viewed the coronation chair which is the oldest piece of furniture in Britain still in use for its original purpose. There is a little coffee bar next to the Cloisters where we enjoyed coffee and cake.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence and principal workplace of the British monarch.

As we were there just before the Golden Jubilee celebration, there were lots of construction going on but I still really liked the palace. We didn’t get the opportunity to go in but the Palace is spectacular, opulent, historical and a pleasure to see.

Thames River Cruise

As part of the London Pass., we could hop on and off as many times as we wanted in one day in the Thames River Cruise boats.

We took a cruise from Westminster pier to the Tower Bridge pier. It was a nice sunny day so we had lots of fun. Along the way we saw many popular sites like 30 St Mary’s Axe (informally known as The Gerkin) and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre. The guide was funny and full of useful information.  The boat was full so it was not possible to move around but we were in the front of the boat so we managed to take lots of photos.

I really liked London and England overall and hope to go back to see more of England one day. Scotland is hot in my list for the next trip there. 🙂

Please click here for more photos.

Bath, Somerset – England

The days we did our driving trip, we went to Bath as well. It is a city in the county of Somerset in the south west of England. It took us more than 3 hours to get from Brighton to Bath and the drive was very pleasant through green fields of English country towns. When we were getting close to Bath, we saw rows and rows of terraced houses, they looked so beautiful that I almost lost control of the car in the excitement.

As we got closer to Bath, the only thing that worried me was narrow roads there. They were so tiny that I thought I couldn’t pass through with the small Volkswagen Polo we were on. Then I saw these big tours buses going from both direction and that made me even more sacred. Once we reached Bath, after wandering around for a while, we finally managed to get paid parking and were ready to start our Bath adventures.

 Bath has elegant Georgian architecture and the major attraction in Bath is the Roman baths. The ancient Romans built huge Roman Baths because of the natural thermal springs, leaving behind traces of the largest Roman baths outside of Italy. The Roman Baths are below the modern street level. There are four main attractions in Bath: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century.

From Roman Bath, we then went to Bath Abbey which is a Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The work on the church made me think of Westminster Abbey (which I had only seen on TV but was going to see in London the next day). It was a really nice building both from the outside as well as the inside.

From there we went to the Royal Crescent via the Royal Avenue. The Royal Crescent was really impressive and looked so beautiful with its Georgian architecture. It is a residential row of 30 houses laid out in a crescent. From the convex side the whole complex looks like one long building shaped like a crescent. It was designed by the architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774 and it is among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture. The houses in the Crescent are a mixture of tenures — most are privately owned but a substantial minority of the property is owned by a housing association.

Number 1 Royal Crescent is a museum, which was then being renovated, is maintained by the Bath Preservation Trust. It illustrates how wealthy owners of the period might have furnished such a house.

I really loved the idea of so many houses looking the same. When we went closer to these houses, we saw that they had different coloured door but apart from that everything else looked the same. Even after 300 years they looked solid and beautiful and definitely well preserved. In front of the Royal Crescent, there is a big park and there were hundreds of people basking in the sun. Most of them seemed to be young and having fun with BBQ and Frisbees while others were just lying around soaking up the sun and enjoying the sunny English day.

From there we walked towards the Royal Circus. It is also a place surrounded by large townhouses build in a circle divided into three segments of equal length, each of the curved segments faces one of the three entrances, ensuring that whichever way a visitor enters there is a classical facade straight ahead.

In Bath, everywhere I looked, there was a house or shops so rich with history that it made me wonder how the people who lived there must feel. Even the cobble stoned roads still had a classical look. You could see flowers decorating the road sides and in lots of small cafes and restaurants. We stopped at one of the cafés, called The Bridge Coffee Shop, to have some coffee and cake and were very surprised to see the prices. It was £ 2.50 for a coffee and £3.50 for a cake to take away while £3.50 for a coffee and £4.50 for a cake to eat in. We decide to get a take away and then went to a park in front of the Bath Abbey.

After our coffee break we passed through the famous Pulteney Bridge that crosses the River Avon. The bridge had a flower shop, an antique map shop, and a juice bar. In the river below there was a cruise boat and along the river bank, there was a walking track and beautiful gardens.

After walking around Bath for a while, it was time for us to get back to Brighton as it was a 3 hour drive. This time we took a freeway via Oxford and Reading. The sun was setting by the time we reached Brighton and AS took some beautiful shots of the setting sun.

Please click here for more photos.