Monday, June 13, 2011

Lovin' London

With our fun filled weekend in Barcelona followed by our girlie getaway in Bath we realised that Lisa and Josh really only had two and a half days in London which isn’t much when you consider that one day is taken up with Royal Wedding festivities. I decided that on the Thursday before hand I would take them on my own special walking tour which meant they got to see most of the sights.

We started over at the London Eye which Lisa and Josh went on while I sat and waiting since I had done it before. Luckily for them it was a sunny(ish) day and they got to see quite good views across the city. Following that we walked along the water, over the Westminster Bridge were we took the classic photos of Big Ben with the houses of Parliament in the background. We then charged on to check out Westminster Abbey before the big day.

The crowds around the Abbey weren’t as busy as I thought there would be but since it was closed off for preparations we couldn’t go in. We still got to check out the outside and wonder over all the people who had been camping out there for days.
The next stop on the tour was Pall Mall and the Horse Guards (which to be honest I walked past by complete fluke!) and we wandered up to Trafalgar Square. The square was full of media and screens and posters for the royal wedding so Lisa didn’t really get to see much of what it is like usually but it definitely had to be ticked off the list. From there we wandered down to 10 Downing Street (where the Prime Minister lives) via the Northumberland Arms (where Sherlock Homes and Watson first met) and up to Covent Garden.

On Thursday Covent Garden has a fresh food market similar to the Borough Markets so we stopped there and picked up a yummy lunch and a quick sit down. Lisa grabbed a polish lunch box that included a sausage, potatoes and coleslaw and I had the most massive food envy even though I had just completely demolished a fresh beef burger. After that pit stop we wandered through the Piazza up to Leicester Square and the theatre district and along to Piccadilly Circus where we saw the statue and got the must have photo.

From there we walked along Regent Street which couldn’t have been more perfect as it was full of British flags for the royal wedding and the streets were buzzing. We wandered down until we reached Oxford Circus where Josh left us to the shopping while he bummed around and read his book. We hit the shops along Oxford Circus picking up a few bargains while I showed Lisa the craziness that is Primark before meeting Josh at the Marble Arch side of Hyde Park.

From there we hired Boris Bikes (the ones you rent for a little while and dock at points around the city) and rode from one side of Hyde Park to the other, via the Serpentine Lake all the way down to Buckingham Palace. We docked our bikes and wandered through the crowds to the palace. As it was the day before the Royal Wedding the place was packed with both tourists, people camping out and the media. They had set up a two story mini TV station filled with cameras and lights and reporters. It was something to see especially since the atmosphere around the Palace is usually subdued. By this stage we were exhausted from walking around so much over the past few days and lots of late nights drinking and eating and catching up so we headed home to chill out on the couch in front of the TV.

The next morning was Royal Wedding Day so we were up bright and early and out of the house at 8am so we could make our way to Hyde Park to meet my friends Laura and Doug and get a spot in front of the big screens. We hadn't wanted to waste time in London lining the streets so we thought the best way to see the whole thing but still be out in the atmosphere was to watch it from the park. We got a place in a decent spot in front of the screen and set up our picnic rugs and food and drink. We had all bought some nibbles and alcoholic drinks (after all it was a wedding). I had picked up a few British flags and had dressed in red, white and navy to get into the spirit of the day.

Photo by Laura Havill

The atmosphere in the park was great as we watched the lead up to the wedding and there were so many gasps and squeals when we first saw the Princes in their uniforms and especially when we saw Kate in her dress. I even admit to having a few tears and sniffles when they said I do. Followed by the popping of the Champers. We all waves our flags and cheered when they walked out and the whole atmosphere was electric. While we waited for the procession and for 'the kiss' on the balcony we were entertained by an MC on stage in the park. They had a band that played and we all sung along and danced. After the big kiss where more champers was popped and even more cheering we danced around in the park to the band. It was a bit like a festival atmosphere and so much fun.

It was such a great event to be in London for and something that I will always remember. I am hoping that I will be here for the christening of the first little prince or princess or Harry's wedding (who knows he could fall in love with me?). I was never a Royalist but I have a new found love of the Royal Family. After the wedding I went to a bbq at Laura and Dougs before Josh, Lisa and I went to dinner and out to my favourite bar in London. It was a long day of drinking and eating and hanging out but it was definately one of my favourite things that I have experienced while I am here.

The next day was Lisa and Josh's final day before they took the Eurostar to Paris so we had the morning to hang out. We went up to Camden Markets which is great for shopping, eating and people watching (all our favourite things). We were lucky that it was a sunny day so we had fun wandering the markets, grabbing food at the street vendors and sitting in the sun by the canal. It was a great end to a fun trip and I was happy that I got a chance to show these guys around the city that I love so much because Spring in London is fantastic.

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