Great Britain Part One (first day in London)

This is the first part of several highlighting some of the special times that I got to experience in Great Britain. With over 3000 photos that I and my sister took, it takes a while to go through and pick out the ones to put in these journals. My sister Bonnie and I arrived at London Heathrow Airport midday on September 14 after a very long overnight flight. After getting our bags and going through customs we jumped on the train which would take us downtown to the hotel we had booked for the first four nights. All the while we were in London we use the subway system to get around (nicknamed the tube because of the round shapes of the tunnels zigzagging beneath London). It only took us about a day and a half to understand it and be very comfortable using the subway to get around all over the city and it is quite reasonably priced. Overall we found it to be very clean and well organized, it was a little crowded at rush hours in the morning and late afternoon but it’s the most efficient and inexpensive way to get around the city. Here’s a couple pictures of the approaches going down into the subway.

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We did not want to waste any of our time that we had in the city, and we also wanted to get into our Great Britain sleeping habits (with the fact that London is seven hours ahead of our time zone) so we stayed up and after checking into our hotel we headed out downtown to check out the London Eye and other parts of the city. The Coca-Cola London eye as it is now called was built in 1999 to celebrate the millennium. Is a giant Ferris wheel that stands 443 feet tall alongside the River Thames and from it you have great views of the city. Here’s a photo of it as we approached with the afternoon sun highlighting it.

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The wheel has 32 sealed compartments that are air-conditioned and will hold up to 25 people each, but when we were there, there probably were only a dozen or so in each pod. The Ferris wheel doesn’t stop for loading and unloading it’s moving slowly enough that the people just step in and out on the platform. It takes approximately 30 minutes to do one revolution and you get great views of the city. Here’s what the pods look like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think Bonnie looks a little nervous standing here in one of the pods.

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Here is a view of the top looking down that’s why Bonnie is a little nervous.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou get great views of the London skyline in all directions. Its interesting overall the city of London does not have that many tall buildings it has a lot to do with the age of the city.

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Here’s a picture of what’s called the Shard the tallest building in London. It stands 95 stories tall and was finished in 2012 and at 1016 feet is the tallest landmark in the city of London. You can see it from all over as you travel around the city.

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One other notable landmark is the tower that contains Big Ben the nickname for the large bell in the Clock tower that is part of Parliament.

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One of the other tall skyscrapers in London nicknamed the walkie-talkie can be seen in the right side of this photo.

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In this photo to the right is one of the newer train stations that help service London and the surrounding areas. What’s interesting is the city has a lot of old architecture mixed in with a lot of new interesting architecture as you can see in this photo.

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The trains zigzag throughout the city back and forth over and under the River Thames, as the River winds through the city back and forth and you cross it many times. There are quite a few parks and places to enjoy the views of the city near the river. Here I am sitting along one of those spots, along the River with Parliament and Big Bend’s clock tower in the background.

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The Eye from the other side of the river.

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There are lots of ways to get around this busy city other than the trains, there is the famous double-decker buses as seen in this photo, also you still find lots of the famous red phone booths.

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A lot of people ride bikes or walked.

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You can take the city cruise boats and hop on and off as they run up and down the river.

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Of course there’s always taxis, but it’s crazy busy everywhere you look. London is a very young city most of the people you see are in their 20s or 30s.

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As you have seen in some of the other photos the clock tower that contains Big Ben (the nickname for the large bell in this tower) is also right down by the river and it is the clock tower attached to Parliament. Here’s a picture of the tower.

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And here’s one of the parliament building.

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Bonnie standing outside the gates of Parliament.

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They take guarding Parliament very serious looking at these police officers.

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One of the other areas we explored that afternoon was down by the National Gallery one of the many art galleries in the city. Most of the museums and galleries are free to the public. Lots of people like to hang out in the courtyards and gardens of these places.

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In front of the National Gallery are these large Bronze Lions that people can crawl around on.

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I was going to climb on the back of this one but I figured I did not want to get hurt the very first day.

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So I settled for just standing next to his big bronze behind.

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That’s it for now but more to come soon. Rick

 

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