A Weekend in London (Day 2)

8AM, bright and early I was woken up by a repetitive nudging and nagging.  By 930 we were setting out to enjoy a second day in the capital city.  One long tube ride later, I was back in the familiar borough of Westminster to lead my friends around and show them the sites.  We started in Trafalgar Square, and since it was not snowing this time, I actually got to relax and enjoy the atmosphere.  There was already a bit of a crowd mulling about, some who were just sitting chatting, others who were just cutting through the square on their way to work.  With about 45 minutes to pass before the changing of the guard, we took some sassy and fierce group shots with the lions.  As we started to head out, we spotted a falcon that was part of a photo shoot (for what, I have no idea) and was posing and flying about.  It scared the living daylights out of one unsuspecting little girl, but she recovered fairly quickly (unlike me, who has a slightly irrational fear of things that fly).

602164_10152605735015265_1865863976_nThe changing of the guard was basically the same as it was a few weeks ago, except this time there was a parade (I think I missed that whole part the last time I was at Buckingham Palace) and it was four times more crowded.  Some people in our group couldn’t believe how massive the crowd was and were not at all happy about not being able to see properly.  Despite the hoards of people ,they still all managed to get at least a few decent photos before we headed off for lunch.

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On our way to eat we walked through St James’ Park.  The sun was shining, the birds were out, and the flowers were starting to bloom.  It was a really nice break from the bustle beyond the pond.  We also got a bit of a laugh while watching a large pigeon chase another smaller pigeon for about five minutes.  At the end of the lower path was the Guard’s Museum.  We didn’t go in, but what we did get was a stunning view of the London Eye and Big Ben towering over the building.  If you want a great picture, I suggest stopping by.

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Eva, one of the lovely ladies in our group, had her heart set on eating at this restaurant called Lupita.  She is Mexican and had been craving decent tacos, and some of her friends who visited London a few weeks previously had suggested a great “taco stand” in Westminster.  I don’t know about you, but when I hear something referred to as a stand I assume it is a street vender, not a sit down restaurant.  Well, after searching and walking for the place for about thirty minutes, we finally found it on one of the back streets off of Strand (a continuation of The Mall after Trafalgar Square).  The place was very nice inside, and had an upstairs and downstairs.  You could watch your food be cooked, and they provided you a cute little paper place-mat that instructed you on the dos and don’ts of eating a taco.  Now, we had planned for about 30 minutes for eating because we were under the impression that this was a grab and go taco stand.  It took us about two hours to order, eat, and get our bill (which may have been the longest part unfortunately.  Don’t get me wrong, this was the best food I have eaten in London so far, but by the time we were finished eating it was nearly 15:00.  Our entire day had been eaten away by one site and one (delicious) meal.

100_0991Once we had paid, we set off for the square, stopping for pictures of the London Eye and an ice cream on the way (there is always room for ice cream).  When we had reached Big Ben I got to see my friend’s reactions, which was worth the amount of time it took to get there.  They took probably twenty minutes worth of pictures before we moved on to see Westminster Abbey (which was closed, so once again I could not go in!).  Although the abbey was closed, we were still able to go inside the chapel.  The inside was beautiful, and people were in there both praying and looking around like we were.  The windows were all stained glass, and there were paintings and historical objects covering the walls.  It’s always hard to comprehend how there can be so much beauty hidden in the center of such a busy and loud area.

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Our next stop was to the Natural History Museum in Kensington.  We arrived with just over an hour to explore, which is hardly enough time to even make a dent in the massive collections within the galleries.  I really wanted to see the dinosaur’s, so we started in that exhibit.  The line seemed like it would never end, and it continued all the way through the gallery.  I would have preferred a free range style, because having people waiting behind you to move on is slightly stressful.  That combined with our already daunting time limit was too much pressure to fully enjoy what I was looking at.  I am hoping that the next time I head out to London I will have at least a few hours to peruse the museum at my own speed.  By the time we had exited the dinosaur section most of us were too tired to continue looking around.  We ended up sitting on a bench in the whale room to rest until the museum closed at 17:50.  We left, and headed off to the underground to catch the tube back to Liverpool Street and then the train back to Norwich.

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It was a long weekend, but it was not nearly long enough to do all the things we wanted.  A few more trips are definitely needed (and one may already be in the works!).

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