Sunday, January 24, 2016

More London Fun

Since we were all up and at 'em a little earlier this morning, and since we are now pros at using London's public transportation systems, we made it into the city a little earlier this morning than we did yesterday morning. We had hopes of joining a walking tour, using our hop-on, hop-off tour ticket, but at the last minute, we changed our plans and decided to stop at King's Cross station, instead of the one nearest the meeting place of the walking tour. There, we followed the signs for platforms 9 and 10, and found ourselves at Platform 9 3/4, where we saw Harry Potter's trolley, right outside the Harry Potter store. The kids were so thrilled with this stop, and we got them each a little souvenir. The older boys chose Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, which provided entertainment for most of the rest of the day. Clay chose a chocolate lollipop, and Ruth opted for a Gryffindor ink pen. (None of that will mean anything to you, though, if you haven't read the Harry Potter books or at least seen the movies, so I apologize if you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

After that fun stop, we hustled back on the train and headed to Buckingham Palace to see the Changing of the Guard. It was fun to see all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the ceremony. Plus, it was nice to get a good look at the palace, since commercial vehicles, like our tour bus, aren't allowed to drive in front of it.

From there, we walked through Green Park and Hyde Park, taking advantage, once again, of the surprisingly sunny weather. We decided to picnic in Hyde Park, next to The Serpentine Lake, where the swans, geese, and ducks entertained us while we ate. Our last act in the park was to visit Speaker's Corner, where, on Sundays, the public is invited to speak about whatever might be on its mind. The only caveat is that an individual who wishes to speak must be at least six inches off royal soil, so you need to bring your "soapbox," which is where, we were told, the saying "On your (my) soapbox" comes from.

We spent the rest of the afternoon aboard the hop-on, hop-off bus, seeing the interesting sights of the city and being thankful that we weren't seeing it on foot with the millions of other people wandering around. We are big fans of the hop-on, hop-off bus tour and will likely try it again sometime in another city.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in London, but we'll wrap it up tomorrow with a trip to Real Russia (the travel agency we are working with to book our Trans-Mongolian train trip), finalizing our visa applications for Russia and China, before heading to the coast for a few days, while they process everything.

Platform 9 3/4

A sweet treat for a sweet boy

Bertie Bott's Every Flavored Beans

Some of the flavors are truly disgusting,
but that is part of the appeal to boys, I think.

Buckingham Palace

The royal pipers during the Changing of the Guard

More Changing of the Guard pageantry

A walk in the royal park

Swan Love

A man on his "soapbox" in Speaker's Corner

Harrod's Department Store
(I personally think this building is prettier than Buckingham Palace!)

Piccadilly Circus:
London's answer to Times Square

You can't see it very well because of the fish decor,
but this is a conveyor belt sushi restaurant.
We were so tempted to hop off the bus and go it to try it,
but Jeff and Weston already had big plans to hit the sports bar
in our hotel to watch real American football.

It was a full, fun, and fatiguing day!

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