London - Day 2

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September 10th 2016
Published: October 2nd 2016
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We had tickets for another walking tour that began at 10:45am. That meant there wasn't a crazy rush to get going, but we did head out (start walking) about 9:30. At the far end of St. James Park was a food truck. Fresh brewed Americano style coffee. Our continental breakfast offered hot beverages from a machine.

We met our group on the stairs at the end of Regent Street. Our guide, Gavin, was animated and knowledgeable. We went toward Buckingham Palace along The Mall (pronounced so it rhymes with gal). Turning right onto Marlborough Road we stopped across the street from the barracks of the Queen's Life Guards. Before they march toward the palace there is an inspection and the band plays one song. The rest of the crowd followed the Guard, but our guide took us around the opposite end of the block to the main door of St. James Palace, the oldest official residence of the reigning royal family, built in the mid-1500s. Some places just have a greater sense of history.

Going back to The Mall we continued on to Buckingham Palace where our group had a reserved spot at the border rail. Everything is impressive. We watched the arrival of the Queen's Cavalry (the mounted guards) and then made our way across The Mall (with 1,000 other tourists) to St James Park. Across to Birdcage Walk we proceeded to the queue to tour Buckingham Palace.

Although getting through the gate didn't take very long (including the bag search), once inside there was a line of several hundred people ahead of us, barely shuffling forward. We agreed the tour would take too much time and asked one of the staff if we could be let out. Apparently this is not a common request, but they managed. We began walking toward our on-off Thames boat cruise starting point, across the river from the London Eye.

The day had started overcast and it started raining while we waited for the next boat. It was pleasant onboard, but all the pictures taken have raindrops showing. We went under (the third) London Bridge on our way to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, which is about a mile uphill from the river.

The site is mostly informational, set up as a museum. When built it was on the highest hill still convenient to London without city light. The tour is self-guided with an audio headset. A wooden sign marks the Prime Meridian.

Walking back to the dock was either downhill or flat and we made it onboard with four minutes to spare. (The boats arrive every 40 minutes.) We sat in the front on the ride back down the Thames. This allowed us views of places we hadn't seen on the first trip. We docked at Westminster about 5:45 and decided we'd rather take a cab than walk back to the hotel.

Our driver got us within a block of where we needed to be, which was close enough for us. We dropped our stuff in the room and went around the corner to a Thai restaurant. the food was wonderful and well complimented by the Chenin Blanc wine from South Africa. We never came across any wine from Paso Robles during the whole trip.

I went to reception and printed out our vouchers for Sunday, then we called it a day.

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