Our first international trip after the pandemic. Great to taste freedom again!
Hanhan knows that Delta forgot to load the food onto this flight.
Buckled in and ready for London!
Gary likes the robot border guards.
Cleared customs and on the Heathrow Express. 15 minutes to downtown London.
Paddington Station, looking for Paddington Bear.
We're on the way to our hotel. It's a short walk from the train station.
Started to explore as Hyde Park was walkable, just 2-3 minutes from our hotel.
A lake in Hyde Park on a rare partly sunny day.
The Queen's swans.
The Queen, Victoria.
No need for fancy telephone booths except for pictures.
Our first (and best) breakfast. London street food.
This is the Russian Embassy gate. All blocked off but still covered with red paint. The barriers have the Ukrainian colors on them as well.
London is filled with little gardens like this one. More green space than we've seem anywhere else.
Greenhouse made from salvaged stained glass.
Every intersection has these handy hints for people from right side driving countries.
They are darn handy too!
Prince Albert's Memorial. This is the India corner.
Queen Victoria truly loved Prince Albert and built this monument for him.
Royal Albert Hall is directly across the street from the memorial.
The America corner of the memorial.
Royal Albert Hall in more detail.
Cool, old street sign. I love the finger pointing directions.
No earthly idea what this means, but who else has a rhino being lifted on their roof?
Iconic London sight, phone box and double decker bus.
Shortly after arrival, it was time to hit a pub. What a great one we found for the occasion.
Counting out the pence for my pint. Not really, you couldn't spend cash, all was tap and go.
While deciding what to order, a Londoner was waiting, so I let him order, then said I'll have what he's having. He was surprised and noticed my accent. After a short friendly chat, he bought my first pint. Great place, London!
The world's best fish & chips. I'll never order this in the US again. The chips were triple fried, whatever that means. I simply say "Best ever".
Hanhan had the other traditional UK Pub fare, steak and kidney pie with mash. Note the cup of beef dripping gravy. Delicious!
Can you see the kidney oozing out!
The outside of the Pub, a great experience.
The Queen's Guard also protects the hand sanitiser during Covid.
Finally, it's check-in time and here's our hotel.
After a short nap, we bought our Oyster cards for public transportation, mainly the London Underground better known as 'The Tube'
This is Oxford High Street, Selfridge Department store is on the right. I've never seen a store quite like it.
Our deluxe first night's dinner is courtesy Sainsbury Local.
Next moring, we took the tube to Westminster and when we hit the top of the Tube stairs, there was Big Ben in all it's glory. What a surprise and just SO cool.
Turn around and there is the London Eye, the city's big ferris wheel.
Parliament, Gary, and Big Ben.
The obligatory tourist photo, Parliament and Big Ben from across the Thames.
With Hanhan. What is tourism without the tourists?
A combo shot! Ok, we're done.
This is Britain's National Covid Memorial. Names and dates of those who have died are in the hearts. Anyone can come draw a heart and put text in it.
South Lambeth is off the tourist track, but we explored and found a great little shop with excellent curries and talks with the locals.
Hanhan got the veggie special, only 5 pounds (money not weight).
I love this sign and think it should be put up in the US immediately. The sign says 'There was no greater damage you could inflict on a state than ensure it was led by an idiot'
Hanging out in this area, wherever you look 'Picture'
Monument to the Emancipation of Slaves 1834.
Hanhan loves this photo, so we kept it. So green!
The Burghers of Calais. Six of the principle citizens of Calais made themselves hostage to save their fellow towns people. This commemorates their selflessness.
Detail, detail, detail.
So much more impressive than the concrete and glass our government has.
Winchester Abbey from the street side.
Oliver Cromwell, overthrew the monarchy, beheaded Charles I and was the ruler for a period of time.
Right across from Cromwell is a bust of Charles I. They glare at each other for eternity.
One of my heroes, Mr Churchill is the main attraction in Parliament Square.
Churchill is a hero in China as well.
Busy place on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
All the Commonwealth flags are here.
A nice sentiment.
The UK Supreme Court building. No barriers and guards here.
Two guys from Illinois.
The Mall looking towards Buckingham Palace. Being kept clear in preparation for the Queen's Jubilee.
This is as close as we can get to the palace.
Look at how unsightly the palace area is.
Hanhan ran though the barrier and got this photo.
The Guards we all know and love.
Pall Mall, next to Buckingham Palace.
St. James Palace. The Queen's offices.
There are so many of these little alley/streets in London. You never know what you'll find. This is pub and someone is have a pint and a puff outside.
Trafalgar Square. You have to go here, but you'd rather not. The tall thing is Nelson's Column.
One useful this presented in the Square, the standard measure of the UK.
National Gallery and Trafalgar fountain, with an ice cream!
The whole of the UK really love the Queen and this is one of the best decorations we saw at a business.
Don't know why Switzerland is here, but there you go. A wee bit crowded for our taste.
Harry Potter is more famous than Prince Harry.
Chinatown in London.
Hanhan loves bubble tea and Chinese crepes with scallion and hot dog!
The gate to Chinatown.
Lots of decoration here, look at the lion head.
In case I have to relocate, easy to find my new address.
America be proud!
The Italian Garden at Hyde Park. Prince Albert built this for Queen Victoria.
This is as nice as any in Italy.
The sculpture is detailed and beautiful. They are being slowly restored and in person you can see the results easily.
Peter Pan and Peter Pan
The Royal College of Music. Beautiful architecture.
The Royal Albert Hall.
The Royal School of Mines.
The porcelain stairway at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Used not only for the beauty, but also because it is fireproof.
This is the first dining room in a museum. The museum was thought to be a place of learning and people would come after work, eat, and see the displays.
Stunningly beautiful setting for Hanhan's scone with jam and clotted cream.
The only scone we had in the UK, it was very good.
The quite pleasant courtyard of the V and A museum.
The facade behind Hanhan used to be the main entrance. Carvings above the entrance are Queen Victoria awarding prizes for the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Hard to see the excellent clock, but trust me, it was cool.
Main lobby of the V and A museum.
Some British royal liked this facade from Italy, so he transported it home and donated it to the museum.
If you zoom in, you'll see a lizard and snake in the caving around the door. It was a statement by the artist to show how bad conditions were during the summer. I like the quote 'Better It Is To Get Wisdom Than Gold'
This is another dining room that is decorated by mosaics and porcelain tiles.
Note the hexagonal tiles used to create this arched ceiling.
All the columns in the building used to be decorated like this. A past director removed them all so as to not distract from the displays. This is one of the few that survived.
A casting of the Trajan's Column in Rome. This has been used to restore the actual one that deteriorated with age. We have seen the real one and this is much better.
The 'cast' room. These were all created from the actual objects so Londoners could come view the famous pieces without travel.
Japanese men's purses. Each one was for a particular month. As the robes they wore had no pockets, men needed a place for important papers and things.
This a kimono worn by a young unmarried Japanese woman. The sleeves are long which denoted her single status.
The Chinese Emperor's Throne. Traded for opium during the 1840s.
Mao's cup. The characters on the top say 'Serve the people'.
This recreated Mao jacket and pants would not be seen during the Cultural Revolution. Why? They are made of silk.
We think of China as a tea drinking nation. The cups though tell a different story. They are espresso cups.
A doorway to a tomb. The British collected everything.
These items are miniatures buried with the dead for use in the afterlife.
The V and A Museum is a great place. They just have stuff. All kinds of stuff and not much detail about it.
Hanhan loves the girl's hair. Longest she's ever seen.
Hanhan is admiring the ceiling of the thrid dining room during lunch.
This is the thrid dining room, the Green Room. The entire dining room has been painstakingly cleaned and restored.
This clock is decorated with mosaic tiles, teenie tiny mosaics. Simply beautiful.
Floral bouquet made from kitchen utensils.
This is the jewel room. Just stacks and stacks of jewelry of all types. Ancient, modern, royal, gold, silver, rubies, diamonds, emeralds, etc.
Queen Victoria's crown. The big one was work before Prince Albert's death. He personally designed the crown for her. They truly loved one another. The small one afterward to fit over her veil.
A collection of Indian musical instruments. Can you name them all?
A Turkish chimney top.
The oldest, largest Persian rug in existence.
This is an Islamic pulpit.
After the museum, time for a pint.
This is the coolest clock ever. Located across the street from Paddington Station.
Sundials at Westminster Abbey.
Westminster Abbey, lines of visitors already and its 10 AM.
While waiting to go in, here's Big Ben, Parliament Square, and the London Eye.
This entire building is just full of carvings and intricate stonework. It costs 40 million Pounds yearly for maintenance, we gave them 76.
The scars of World War II bombings.
The King above Mary and the Christ Child. Emphasises the roles of church and state.
Looking down the nave.
Famous scientists are buried here as well as royalty. Lister has a special place in my mouth.
Darwin is here. No monkeys though.
The mortal remains of Isaac Newton. Died from a incident with an apple.
Hanhan's personal hero and one of the first scientists Gary learned about.. Not buried here, that's what the Alibi Sepulti means.
Isaac Newtons memorial.
Beautiful stained glass showing Kings and Queens.
Fabulous amount of decoration everywhere you look.
The seats for the commissioners of the commonwealth countries.
The Royal Seat. This is where the Queen sits when she attends services.
The Royal butt was here. We snuck this picture before the priest/tour guide shooed us away.
The High Altar, the circle in the center of the floor is where the Coronation Throne is placed for the ceremony.
A ceiling in one room of the Abbey.
Queen Elizabeth I burial chamber.
Pretty cool having your likeness on display for eternity.
Tomb of Elizabeth I and Mary I.
These are two child princes who were killed and hidden away during some of the palace intrigue that was common in the early days of England.
This is supposed to be the most beautifully carved hand and it belongs to Elizabeth I.
Lady Chapel amazing ceiling, and has the coat of arms for various people too.
All the knights who mattered at the time.
The royal emblem again above Mary and the Christ Child.
This couple are buried together as was custom then. The added touch is their children are shown praying for the father.
We just thought the scenes decorating the sides were cool.
The stained glass commemorates all the airmen who sacrificed during WW II.
This is a chapel for the greatest commanders of WW II. Cromwell was here for a short time until he was disinterred and beheaded for killing Charles I.
Mary Queen of Scots tomb. Much more elaborate than Elizabeth I
Mother of Charles I
Mary Queen of Scots Very majestic.
Lessor royals are buried here, Dukes, Princes, Lords.
Most figures are shown praying, this one is simply resting his head. No idea why, but we thought it unique.
Look closely, these are candle holders for the Abbey. A gift from some royal person.
This stained glass is in honor of the residents of Westminster during WW II
This is alledged to be the oldest door in Britain, dating from the 1050s.
This was a Catholic refuge inside the Abbey. Eventually, the Catholics were forced out.
These stained glass windows were created after the bombings of WW II. This was the Catholic portion of the Abbey and has different architecture.
A portion of the original floor.
The treasury. This was a very secure place for the gold, jewels, and documents.
The oldest part of the Abbey, more than 1000 years old. Still in use.
This chest was like a safe when this was also the treasury room.
The old cloister for the nuns.
I'm thinking there is no trespassing allowed.
Don't just honor the WW II vets, all service people sacrifice.
The three most famous British explorers.
Lighting a candle for Cassie.
The British Grave of the Unknown Warrior. The only place nobody is allowed to step in the Abbey.
The Coronation Throne. Prince Charles would give anything to sit in it.
The British were awfully thankful for FDR.
The Queen's Horse Guard.
Hanhan really likes the uniforms, especially the helmet.
We were in London just before the Queen's 70th Jubilee. These soldiers are practicing for the Trooping of the Colors.
The Horse Guard parade grounds. The bollards are controlled like a garage door, on command, they drop into the ground.
This memorial is for the Queen's Household Division troops who died in combat. They do more than parade and take pictures with tourists.
Getting ready for the changing of the horse guard.
Hanhan didn't believe the sign. Now she does...
10 Downing Street, residence of the British Prime Minister.
Ping Pong tables in a London park. They have so many parks and green spaces to enjoy.
A footbridge across the Thames.
This is the abutment for an old bridge that has been demolished.
London city center skyline.
We, for some reason, went to a modern art museum. This is why we don''t go. The sweeping is 'art'
My favorite painting of all time. A classic.
It's up to you to interpret the meaning, if any.
Millennium Bridge heading toward St Peter's Cathedral. Nicknamed the 'wobbly bridge' due to its design error. Later fixes solved the problem.
London has fewer bridges than Peoria, Il. However, the ones they have are way cooler.
St Paul's Cathedral
A drinking fountain. None of these are in working order though.
This little cafe's owner/chef creates these happy faces when it's not busy. Nice touch.
This is inside the Royal Science Institute. They found 10 new elements here.
Faraday's original magnetic lab. All the instruments are genuine. The guy in the picture is a visiting Harvard professor who is trying to recreate Faraday's experiments. A really enthusiastic guy.
Faraday is on the 20 Pound note.
Science lives in Hanhan, and especially this place. Without Faraday, there would be no electric generator.
Replacing Stalin at the Yalta Conference.
Carnaby Street in Soho
British Museum. A wonderful place indeed.
Even the roof is spectacular.
The actual Rosetta Stone
Hieroglyphs like these were finally readable thanks to the Rosetta Stone.
Ramesses the Great.
Finally understand where nose piercing come from. Thank the Egyptians and their cats.
An Egyptian sarcophagus. If you can read, it tells a story.
Inside of the sarcophagus.
From the Palace of Sargon.
Greek story tiles from the Temple of Athena at the Parthenon.
More from Greece
One of the few remaining Moai from Easter Island.
Performance art. Actually, window cleaners for the roof.
The earliest jade objects ever found. One has no known function but was clearly valued.
Chinese cave painting.
An emperor's jade seal.
Tang Dynasty funeral figures. These take you to the afterworld.
The bottle and bowl are 6000 years old. 6000!
One pipe for tobacco, one for opium. Which do you think ended the Dynasties?
A rubbing of Empress Cixi's painting.
These two vases are the best known Chinese porcelain in the world. Dated to 1351.
Single colored porcelain from the Chinese capital of porcelain making.
Hanhan with totmes.
Banana with crown needs ridden.
This is the Seven Dials area. Seven streets all meet here. GPS' nightmare.
Covent Garden Market. Great places to shop, eat, drink, just mess about.
A world famous noodle shop. We're not sure what it's famous for, but you don't know without trying.
The London Fire monument.
The Tower of London. Not actually a tower, it's a castle that was extended and added on to many times over the years.
Superbloom 2022 for the Queen's Jubilee.
The Tower Bridge from the Tower grounds.
London Financial District.
Traitor's Gate. An entry from the Thames where high value prisoners were brought in for execution away from the publics view.
There are many cannon around the Tower grounds. This one was recovered from a sunken ship and shows the effects of 130 years in seawater.
This is a Chinese cannon captured by the British 1840s.
This fancy cannon has a highly decorated carriage.
The entrance to the main attraction at the Tower, the Crown Jewels.
The round dome used to house the Royal Observatory until London grew too big and too bright.
Luckily we went straight to the Crown Jewels at opening. This is about 45 minutes later and the tourists are queued up.
The Tower was a castle after all with many excellent defensive positions like this one.
The poster guy for the Yeoman Warders, also known as The Beefeaters.
A Roman wall from 50 BC. This spot on the Thames has always been a great place for a fortification. The blue roof in the background is the raven cage. Ravens are kept here because a King said if at least 6 ravens are not present the Tower will fall then England will fall. 7 ravens are always kept, fed, housed here. Six and a spare.
Gurkha Guards. Different regiments from around the Commonwealth are chosen for duty at the Tower. These guards are Gurkhas.
The symbol of the Royal Ordinance department.
Queen Elizabeth I created a mint in the Tower. The coin of the realm was not trusted and she restored faith in the money.
We thought this was weird. The Brittish countermarked (stamped a symbol into) other countries coins then called them a crown, one pound. This was done during a time of crisis in the English money supply, they just didn't have enough coins.
Isaac Newton, among all his other talents, was the Master of the Mint.
A King's bedroom that was used when he was travelling.
The King's private chapel off the bedroom.
The throne and a huge fireplace.
Henry VI was killed at this spot.
Walking the Tower's battlements.
The White Tower. The center of the Tower complex. It wasn't white until a King ordered it to be whitened inside and out.
This is what happens at the Tower. Gary was caught vaping and there is harsh punishment for it.
The Tower was a prison as well. Catholics were held here before being tortured and killed. They left lots of graffiti like this.
The last executions at the Tower were wartime spies. Eleven during WW I and a single spy during WW II. Taken right below this spot to the rifle range and shot by firing squad.
Lights have crowns too.
A cell door, the little grill is the only way to speak or to catch a glimpse of the outside.
The Twoer used to have exotic animals roaming around. The public would come to see the odd creatures and have an outing. Then, a boy had his arm ripped off by a chimp and the animals were moved to an actual zoo.
Highlander playing in the square.
The kings' armor. Lots of armor, shields, helmets, chain mail gloves, horse armor. Just incredible the amount of stuff they had.
The kings' horses. These have been on display since the 1600s. A big attraction to the crowds of the day.
A younger, slimmer Henry VIII. Look at the one to the rear.
A giant and dwarf. Lots of royals had a dwarf for amusement.
Not a lot of sanitation here. The toilet was open to the wall of the tower and everything just fell along the walls.
These guns were used as patterns to make parts to assemble new guns. Pretty ingenious, real pieces instead of drawings.
This just shows off the military weaponry available. Pretty good advertising for the ordinance folks.
This is the actual ax and block used for executions. There are nicks in the top of the block.
This is a memorial to those executed right at this spot.
This gate was so heavy that it took 30 men to raise and lower it. Then, machinery was invented and it only took 6 men to secure it.
Moat and drawbridge, typical of every castle.
Odd igloos for dining. Must be a leftover from Covid.
Going up the stairs at the Tower Bridge.
It was an engineering marvel when it was built. I say it is still a marvel.
The bridge is still used as a bridge.
Just so you know where you are, there is a handy sign.
On the opposite shore, the Tower and Tower Bridge.
This was just a really cool street we found while walking around London.
No idea why the cranes are needed on residential apartments.
The other side of Plymouth Rock. The Mayflower Pub is where the journey started.
Ordering a pint in honor of the Pilgrims.
Not sure how big the flys are here, but you're not allowed to tip them.
At a Palestinian restaurant, the language barrier resulted in us being served two, 2 person meals. The food was just as delicious the next day...
Dessert was baklava and melted cheese with red shredded wheat on top. Both were excellent.
We loved the little places with outdoor seating.
Our hotel was preparing to welcome visitors for the Jubilee.
These bike racks will prevent wheels and things being stolen. Keeps them dry too.
Cutty Sark, in Greenwich.
The Uber boats on the Thames. They have all forms of public transport here.
The Royal Greenwich Observatory. This was the center of the universe for the British Empire.
One of the earliest electrically driven clocks. It's a 24 hour clock that is accurate to 1/2 second. Not bad for something made in 1852!
This is the best view of the London skyline.
Hanhan being bisected by the Prime Meridian. Left foot is in the Western Hemisphere. This is the secret free to be here line. The other part of it is inside the observatory grounds and cost 16 pounds.
Big kid waiting for storytime in Greenwich Park.
This is the biggest ship in a bottle I've ever seen. At the National Maritime Museum.
A Titanic memorial.
The breezeway at the Queen's House.
This park, like most the Royal parks, is huge and beautiful. On a rare fine day, people are taking advantage to picnic and have fun.
At the Queen's house going to head in and see the art on display here.
On the front porch looking toward London. The buildings in the background are the Royal Naval College and Chapel. They are separated by 40 yards by order of the Queen. She didn't want her view spoiled.
These were done by sailors to pass the time at sea. They are needlepoint and made with material found onboard a ship. How can they be so good? Sailors at the time had to sew many things from uniforms to sails so were handy with a needle.
When the Queen was using this place, the smaller circles held statues, now, just the tile remains.
The King’s Presence Chamber
The famous Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I Her Navy is seen through the window while she has her hand on the globe below a crown. It covers the Americas. Kind of a pointed message to all comers.
Even the ceilings were really cool. This is in the Queen's Presence Chamber.
The engraving reads "England Expects Every Man To Do His Duty" This is inside the Chapel.
The chapel is impressive. All the detail on the ceiling is plaster and paint. The pipe organ is one of a kind.
Walking under the River Thames. This was built in 1902 for the public to use an island as a park.
These sections were installed as part of a repair after bomb damage during WW II.
Looking back at the Royal Naval College and Chapel after crossing the Thames via foot tunnel. The Queen's house is in the background and if you look close, the Observatory is there too.
Hanhan is the occupant. A fully automated public toilet. After use, it locks the doors and fully cleans everything including the floor.
Taking the train to Dover. Just taking in the British countryside.
Gary loves a ham and cheese toasty. Hanhan hit the jackpot with her goat cheese, beet, and walnut salad.
Dover Castle. Look at the thickness of the walls.
Gary styling his fancy sunhat. Didn't do any good, terrible sunburn.
Waiting on the tunnel tour. The evacuation of the British Army from France was run from right here.
You can easily imagine the activity during the war. There are 4 miles of tunnels carved into the White Cliffs of Dover.
Giving a salute to those who died during the fight for France in the early days of WW II.
The source of power for the installation. During bombings and naval shelling, it was not ultra reliable as you can imagine.
Here is a view of an exposed part of the complex showing how deep in the cliffs it is. You can also see shell pockmarks from the constant bombing and shelling they went through.
A section of the tunnel leading to the underground hospital.
These stairs are so cool. They are designed so that each side is separated from the other but climb at the same rate. It's a typical British class thing. Officers used one path, enlisted used the other.
A tile map of the Strait of Dover shows just how close Dover and Calais are. Less than 30 miles apart, you can see France on a clear day.
This Admiral ran the show here and came up with many innovative ways of evacuating the trapped troops.
Gary searching for German U-boats offshore.
As we had seen other castles, we didn't go inside the castle.
Nature has almost completely reclaimed the wartime structures.
Public footpath to the top of the cliffs.
A ferry terminal at Dover. You can go to Ireland, France, Belgium then onward to the Continent from here.
Sometime the footpath is just the clifftop itself.
This what you think of when you think of the White Cliffs of Dover.
Discovered a short, horseshoe tunnel along the way. Hanhan was intrepid enough to explore it.
Just for perspective.
Imagine you are one of the troops who were being evacuated. Suddenly, you spot the White Cliffs looming off the bow. "Home".
It's pretty windy on top of the cliffs. Sadly Gary saw London, but didn't see France. You know the rest...
Hanhan has a piece of the cliff. She's hoping the chalk will cover the coffee stain.
In places, black flint is just below the chalk. The cliff is made of chalk, but nature being nature, impurities crept in.
Could've fooled me.
We sat on a bench and soon had beggars. We flicked nuts into the air and sometimes, they'd be caught midair.
Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn? Not just a Pink Floyd song, Vera Lynn was the musical voice of wartime Britain.
I guess they just didn't want to have a white house here.
Shockingly, Gary finds he's a Muggle!
Little boys are very disappointed when the Harry Potter store closed just they arrived.
Meat pie! One of the best ever is served at the Kings Cross train station. Supposed to be a snack, but it was so good we got a second and made dinner from them.
St Pancras train station and hotel. Right across from Kings Cross train station.
This business is happy that the Biden administration required US citizens to be tested 24 hours in advance of flying back to the US.
London has canals all around and these neat canal boats have bars, restaurants, and sightseeing. Plenty of private ones as well.
St Mary's Hospital has a connection to Peoria, IL. Fleming discovered Penicillin here, but manufacturing it needed the US lab in Peoria.