HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!|
I didn't even realize it was Halloween until I started to write this email. I didn't see anyone here in London dressed up for the holiday. My flight from Dallas left last night at 9:20. Here is a picture of the plane from American's Admiralty Club at sunset.
It was a little over 9 hour flight. It was a pretty bumpy flight. I don't know if it had anything to do with Hurricane Sandy or not, but we rocked and rolled for a couple of hours. We landed at Heathrow Airport at 11:30AM local time. We are five hours ahead of the east coast. I got to my hotel just down the street from Buckingham Palace at about 1:30. It is a very nice classic old hotel just inches from Victoria Station. Which makes it very easy for hopping on the subway. After getting settled I walked down the street to Buckingham Palace.
A motorcade of vehicles passed by here just before this was shot. I couldn't tell if the Queen was in any of the vehicles. From Buckingham Palace I walked down the Mall.
St. James Park was on the right as I was walking down the mall.
At the end of the Mall I walked through Horse Guard's Parade.
The picture below was taken on the other side of this building.
Next I walked down the street to Trafalgar Square. I'm sure those British phone booths are just there for the tourists. No one uses phone booths anymore.
Just across from Trafalgar Square is Admiralty Arch. The Mall that I just walked across is on the other side of the arch.
On the other side of the arch is Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. It is in the borough of the City of Westminster. At its center is Nelson's Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. If you look close in the picture below you can see Big Ben peeking up just right of the column.
The sun sets at 4:30 here which was just about the time I left Trafalgar Square. I hopped on the subway and got off at Piccadilly Circus.
My shot of the lights on the square didn't come out well. I bought a new professional camcorder for my videos which is much larger and I no longer have room to carry my nice SLR camera with its multiple lenses. So I am now taking my still images with a small Canon PowerShot that easily slips in my pocket. It's convenient but doesn't take as good pictures. It was back on the subway after snapping my pictures here.
I love riding the subway in London. The station isn't deserted as it would appear in the picture above. The doors just closed on that train and it's about to pull out.
I got off the subway at the Embankment. By this time it was completely dark. I snapped some pictures of the Thames. None of them came out with the little camera either. Below is a screen grab from the video.
Below is the London Eye.
By this time it started to mist rain so I headed back to the hotel. The weather today was nicer than I expected. As we were landing today there were some sunny breaks while we were in a holding pattern over London. We got a couple nice views of the city from the air as we were circling. And as I was walking around today it was cool, gloomy and windy but it didn't rain like I was expecting.
I will write more tomorrow,
Hello again folks,|
I started my day with breakfast at the hotel and then headed out for the day. We had quite a bit of rain overnight but as I was leaving London this morning the sun was shining. Today I journeyed out into the English countryside.Our first stop was Bath which is a 2+ hour drive from London. It did start raining about an hour out of London. But as we pulled into Bath the skies cleared and it was a beautiful day. Our first stop was at the Roman Baths.
Inside the baths I walked around the steaming pool on the ancient stone pavement. It was quite an impressive place.
After I left the baths I walked around the beautiful town. I visited the Abbey next to the baths.
One of the six River Avons runs through Bath. Below is a great view with the Pulteney Bridge up ahead and beautiful fall foliage all around.
As we were climbing out of Bath we got a nice view from the bus looking back on the city. Not the best picture but the best I could do from the bus. If you look close you can see the Abbey dead center.
It was a beautiful drive through the English countryside between Bath and Stonehenge. Lots of sheep and cows grazing on the green hills. The next stop was Stonehenge, one of the oldest constructions on Earth. Built 5000 years ago.
After Stonehenge it was a short drive to our final stop of the day, Salisbury. Here we visited the most beautiful cathedral in England. The sun was starting to set by the time we got here.
The interior of the cathedral is as impressive as the exterior. In the picture below is a baptismal font in the shape of a Greek cross. You can see the reflection of the cathedral in the water.
As we left Salisbury Cathedral the sun had just set as I looked back on the cathedral for the last time.
It was a two hour drive back to London from Salisbury. It was a very enjoyable day. As we drove back into London there was this huge almost full orange moon hanging over the city. The picture doesn't do it justice but it was a spectacular site.
I spent all day today in London. After breakfast at the hotel I started my day at Westminster Abbey when they opened at 9:30. Unfortunately there was no photography allowed inside. For what they charge to walk through the place you should be able to chip off a piece of the altar as a souvenir. It was beautiful inside though. Lots of tombs inside of former Kings and Queens and other famous people like Sir Isaac Newton. Here's a picture from the outside.|
After leaving the abbey I walked around Big Ben.
I then walked across the Westminster Bridge. You get a nice view of Parliament from the center of the bridge.
Next I walked over to the London Eye. I had hoped to be able to get on the thing. But as I expected the lines were so long that if I did it would have taken the rest of the day. Since I already did it the last time I was here in 2005, I decided to skip it today.
My next stop was St. Paul's Cathedral. The last time I was here I climbed the 500 steps to the top of the dome. I'm now too old and feeble to do that so I settled for views from the ground. No photos were allowed inside here either.
After leaving St. Paul's I walked back down to the Thames and walked along the north bank to the Tower of London. This is where the crown jewels are kept. It's not possible to photograph the whole place unless you're in a helicopter. Pictured below is the entrance, again no pictures were allowed inside.
From here I walked over the Tower Bridge, my favorite sight in London.
I walked along the exposition at the top of the bridge between the two towers. I was finally allowed to take a picture. The first picture is looking east and the second looking west from the top of the Tower Bridge.
I exited the bridge and started walking along the Queen's Walk on the South Bank. The sun was in good position here for a nice picture of the Tower Bridge.
Next I walked past the HMS Belfast. This is when we had a very brief shower. You can see a rainbow in the picture below.
Daylight was starting to run out at this point. I made one more stop before heading back to the hotel. I took the subway over to Wellington Arch and Hyde Park which are seen in the pictures below.
After leaving Hyde Park I came back to the hotel and had dinner. Then at 7:30 this evening I took a night tour of London to see it all lit up. We drove all around the city. The prettiest sight was Harrods department store which was already decorated for Christmas.
Below is the Tower Bridge at night.
My time in London is almost over. I transfer to Southampton tomorrow morning to board the Grand Princess for my cruise home. I wish now that I had left earlier, I would have loved to had more time here. I didn't think November would be a very nice time to spend a lot of time here, but the weather has actually been quite nice. A little cool but I prefer that to being too hot.
My next mail will be from the high seas.
I've only been gone a few days and I am already heading for home. The only thing that I did today was get myself to Southampton which is a two hour drive from London. I had breakfast at the hotel this morning and then checked out at 11:00. Below is a picture of my London hotel, the Grosvenor. It was very nice.
I had to walk about three blocks to the Victoria coach station to catch my bus to Southampton. The Princess transfers were all going through one small gate and there were about a million people there going to the ship. At about 12:15 my bus finally pulled away and I arrived at the pier at about 2:15.
The check-in process was quick and easy. I don't have to wait in any of the lines since I'm an elite member with Princess. Below is a picture of Southampton from the ship before it got dark.
This is going to be a 14-day cruise. Our first port it Le Havre, France which is just across the English Channel from Southampton. The Captain is going to have to drive real slow tonight, it's not very far away. We sailed away at 5:00. Below is a picture of the sailaway. We had the life jacket drill just before sailaway. I found it interesting how much more thorough it was since the last time I sailed. I assume the Costa Concordia had a lot to do with that.
I didn't spend much time on deck during the sailaway, it was bitterly cold out there. Most people on the ship will probably be going into Paris tomorrow. Since I was just there last summer, I'm going to Normandy instead. I will write more tomorrow assuming the ship's internet is working. It's all satellite based and if there are heavy clouds or storms it can be interupted.
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