Continuing on from Part 1 of London (which was written aaages ago. Sorry…), the next morning I took the tube over to Buckingham Palace, inadvertently arriving during the changing of the guard. The place was PACKED! Police were stationed all over the place to keep the crowd organised and back from the road. Arriving late as I did, I was a few rows back from the action, but managed to stick my camera high above my head to catch the procession.
Walking swiftly away from the crowds once the parade was over, I made my way down a side street towards Westminster. When I got there I noticed the court building and decided to pop in for a look. You can visit all three court rooms as long as they are not in use and it’s free to enter. It’s not all that interesting though. 🙂
I went in search of food next, instead of heading straight in to Westminster Abbey. I wandered past the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament) and Big Ben, over the bridge, taking copious amounts of photos as I went, and wound up at Subway (hey, it’s cheap and healthy! Don’t judge). The line was out the door! Londoners love Subway I guess. Walked back the way I came, lunch in hand, and camped out on the grass opposite Westminster and people-watched before heading into the Abbey.
I love, love, love Westminster Abbey! This was my second visit as unfortunately my memory of the first visit had begun to fade. You can’t take pictures inside the Abbey, which is a real shame as the interior is exquisite. Kings, Queens, nobles and famous figures from history are all buried within its walls – Queen Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scots, Isaac Newton and Shakespeare among many others.
Included in the admission is an audioguide, narrated by Jeremy Irons. There’s not a whole lot of info included in the guide, but it’s worth a listen. The frailest part of the Abbey is the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, as the floor has buckled after so many pilgrim visits. It’s closed off for general visitation, but while I was there they held a small prayer session which you can join and see the area. I felt a little bit guilty in doing so, as I’m not religious, but it was a really nice session nonetheless.
St Paul’s Cathedral
After spending a good few hours at the Abbey, there was just enough time for a quick dash across town to St Paul’s Cathedral to join in Evensong. Evensong is a choral prayer session held at 5pm every weeknight and 1pm on weekends. It lasts for 45 minutes and the choral singers are a delight to listen to so I highly recommend it. It’s also a great way to see St Paul’s for free as unlike Evensong at Westminster Abbey, you’re free to wander around before it starts. St Paul’s is less interesting than Westminster in my humble opinion, so my advice is to pay for a long in-depth tour of Westminster Abbey and visit St Paul’s for Evensong to get a glimpse of the place for free. This advice could be morally questionable to some. Do what you feel is right.
Walked around “The City”
After Evensong, I took a twilight walk along the thames through London City area. Saw the Globe Theatre across the river – still haven’t visited. Gotta save something for future visits right? Passed Monument – the area was packed with Londoners enjoying an after-work drink. Took the tube to St James’s park and walked back towards Buckingham Palace as it got dark, watching the ducks and swans in the water. Buckingham Palace was much more pleasant without the crowds. Took a few evening shots and wandered over to Westminster for night shots of the Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye.
Afterwards it was back onto the tube at Westminster and off to the hostel to bed to prepare for another long day of museum hopping.