London II (Day 37)

crowd to watch changing of the guard

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace: changing of the guard

This morning I went down and tried out the breakfast that comes along with my hostel stay.  Funny, to get to it, you have to walk downstairs, out the door, and around the corner and go into the pub that is connected to/run with the hostel.  It was nice, but I messed up when I poured my cereal.  I think it was oatmeal, and I definitely poured milk in it because it didn’t look like any oatmeal I’d seen, but it sure did taste like it when I ate it!  Haha, whoops.
When I was ready to leave, I went back to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard.  Pretty cool!  I didn’t know it was such a huge deal, I’m glad I noticed the sign for it when Sam and I walked by it yesterday (she flew back home this morning).  There was a band (for lack of the proper term if there is one) that came marching down the street, and guards on horses.  When I started walking away from the area, I found a spot (maybe close to the stables) where I could see the guards up close!  Cool!  HAHA!  Oh gracious, there were hardly any people in the area so I got a spot up close to the guard (there was just a chain barrier) because it looked like something was about to happen, and sure enough a group marched out and down the street toward the palace.  A minute or two later, the guard who I was maybe 10 feet from me turned and started marching towards me!  I just FROZE and was thinking “Oh my gosh he’s going to kill me what did I do?”  Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of it since I didn’t move until he turned and walked away!
From there, I decided to just walk around hoping I could make my way to Piccadilly Circus, London Bridge and the Tower of London.  Amazing, I found everything I wanted to, and without a detailed map!  It’s so nice (AHEM, Paris), the signs in London are helpful and point to things like the metro and sights.  It makes it wonderfully easy to navigate!  That and oh my gosh, there seems to be WAY less smoking here.  Thank goodness!!!  Yuck!
Fortnum & Mason window
On my way to Piccadilly Circus, I passed this shop called Fortnum & Mason and was just floored by the window displays.  They were just fantastic!!  I tried to get pictures of them but couldn’t because of the glass reflecting.  I definitely need to start saving for a polarized filter for my camera and a nice tripod; I keep trying to take pictures through reflective windows and wasting tons of time messing with my little tripod!  Anyway, I went into the store and looked around for a while.  Very neat place.
Piccadilly Circus
After that, I found Piccadilly Circus.  Hm.  Was expecting Time Square, so it felt VERY small!  There were several theaters in the area though, so it was interesting to see the shows that they have going.
From there I continued to wander.  I walked by St. Bride’s Church; often referred to as the “Journalists’ church” according to the sign outside, and also according to that sign the steeple is said to have inspired the first tiered wedding cake!  I went inside there and looked around for a few minutes, then kept walking to St. Paul’s Cathedral and went in as far as I could there; you had to buy a ticket for 14 pounds to see all of it!  Geez.
St. Paul’s cathedral and guy waving to me
Borough Market
Tower of London
From there I walked across the Thames river and found the Globe Theatre!  Fun that they made a replica close to where original was.  I continued my walk and saw Southwark Cathedral where it looked like some sort of graduation service had just let out, and to Borough Market.  I LOVED the market!  In fact, I just love all of these little markets everywhere that I go.  They’re just great and the food is SO BEAUTIFUL and interesting!  Yeah, agriculture!!
Creative map at the market
Tower Bridge
I kept on walking until I arrived at Tower Bridge, which in fact I have always thought when seeing pictures to be called London Bridge (definitely was confused when I got to London Bridge before the other and it was just a regular looking bridge).  I walked across that and went by the Tower of London.  I wanted to go inside but there were only 40 minutes left before it closed, so I’m hoping to do it on Sunday.
Advertising for a show
Cleopatra’s Needle
From there I just walked along the Thames river until I reached Big Ben, where I turned to head back to my hostel.  On my way back up the river, I passed the Cleopatra’s Needle for London!  Now I just need to see the one in New York and I will have seen all three.
I also passed a monument for The Battle of Britain (WWII).  I’ve been wondering what color of glass WWII is seen through in England after being bombed as opposed to the romanticized view that the United States takes on (remember reading about our view in The Best War Ever a few years ago).
I was curious about how much I walked today so I plugged in my hostel to Piccadilly Circus to Tower Bridge on MapQuest and it’s over 4.5 miles; and that’s not counting random other places that I wandered and the walk all the way back home!  Guess I walked around 10 miles today.  Geez.  This is why it’s good for me to go out seeing things by myself most days!  I just ate some samples of cereal that I was handed, and a container of raspberries from the market for lunch as I walked.