Dr. Chun
London, Great Britain

May, 2015

 

To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, we decided to take a trip to four countries in Western Europe.  I spent quite some time planning the semi-backpack trip, and the Internet turned out to be an incredible resource.  We flew to London first.  I think no other city has London’s astonishing cultural diversity, illustrious regal history, iconic architecture, exciting entertainment, and sheer creative energy. Hello, London! Here we come...




     
     
013We packed our carry-on and checked baggage and were ready to drive to BTR in the late afternoon.  After a long night flight, we finally arrived at London Heathrow Airport in the afternoon next day. The London Underground (i.e., subway train) is a convenient way to travel to central London. 023We checked into our hotel which is within a walking distance from the Stratford subway station. Cozy, but comfy...
 
033In the late afternoon, we wasted no time and explored the south bank of the River Thames: Borough Market, Tate Modern, and Royal National Theatre.  For dinner, we had the London's famous Fish and Chips. 043Before the trip, we had already made a reservation for "London Eye and River Cruise" combined tickets. London Eye has 32 egg-shaped capsules, which move very slowly without stopping, and in half an hour, you can take a good look at the world famous sights and landmarks of London.
 
053After the ride on London Eye, we were on board a cruse ship and passed under the iconic Tower Bridge, while discovering the history of the capital, built around the twists and turns of the River Thames. 063A visit to London is not complete without seeing an iconic landmark, Big Ben. The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
 
073In the late evening, we walked to a nearby subway station and came back to the hotel.  The Oyster Card is a quick and easy way to pay for travel on public transport in London. The first day went smoothly as I planned meticulously. 083Next morning, we headed for Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The open spaces form a "green lung" in the heart of London.
 
093The Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her beloved husband, Prince Albert. The memorial consists of an ornate canopy or pavilion, in the style of a Gothic ciborium over the high altar of a church. 103Royal Albert Hall is a world-famous concert hall on the south side of Kensington Gardens.
It is the home of the BBC Proms, which is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events.
 
113We didn't have time enough to enjoy Science Museum, Natural History Museum, and Victoria and Albert Museum.  Most world-class museums in London are free! 123We walked fast towards Buckingham Palace.  The Changing of the Guard ceremony outside the palace is a must-see in London.
 
133After the ceremony, we spent some time at St. James Park and then headed for the National Gallery.  Along the way, we saw Duke of York Column and Admiralty Arch. 143We had sandwiches for quick lunch at Trafalgar Square, and then explored the art museum.
 
153The National Gallery houses one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. You'll love seeing work by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Turner, Renoir, Cezanne, and Van Gogh at the museum for free! 163Our next stop was London's historic Covent Garden market.  We watched some street performances, sitting on the ground and cooling our heels.
173We took a local bus and headed for Tower of London, which is a historic castle and formidable royal fortress on the north bank of the River Thames.  It was too late to get inside, and we walked to the River Thames. 183Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London. The bridge crosses the River Thames close to the Tower of London and has become an iconic symbol of London.
 
193A quick stop at St. Paul Cathedral, which is an Anglican cathedral situated at the highest point of the City of London.  With its world-famous dome, it is an iconic feature of the London skyline. 203We had reserved tickets for a musical, Lion King, at Lyceum Theatre in the evening. "You will never be hungry again!"
 
213We saved the last day in London for the visit to Windsor Castle. After having a late breakfast at a sushi restaurant, we took a train at Waterloo railway station. The weather was great! 223Windsor Castle is an official residence of The Queen and the largest occupied castle in the world. A Royal home and fortress for over 900 years, the Castle remains a working palace today.
 
233I attended a boarding high school, and I wanted to take a look at Eton College, which is an English boys' boarding school located within a walking distance from Windsor Castle. "The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton." 243Back to the central London by train in the late afternoon.  My wife was fascinated to see London's iconic red phone booths on the street.
 
253Another iconic symbol of London is red double-decker buses.  We used the Oyster Card for the short ride from Waterloo station to Trafalgar Square. 263We were fortunate to enjoy a free open-air concert by London Symphony Orchestra at Trafalgar Square.  The last dinner in London was a pizza at a nearby restaurant.
 
     
 
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