Going to London

First Views.

We've been to London four or five times so far (as of the end of October 2003), and it's still an adventure every time we go. Take last Saturday, for instance--- it was the first time we've been on a Saturday. Vicki Davidson was visiting, so we headed for the Tilehurst station to catch the 9:41 train to London. The ticket office wasn't open so we tried to buy a ticket from the ticket machine. It wouldn't take our money, and the train came and went (no problem---there is a train every 1/2 hour). A young boy explained that we would have to take the next train to Reading (5 minutes down the line), get off, buy a ticket and get back on the next train to London. No problem? Don't be silly.

We did as instructed and found out that there is a special window for people who got off a train but didn't have a ticket. We bought a ticket from Tilehurst to Reading (1.20). That let us through the turnstiles so that we could go to the ticket windows to buy a ticket for the entire journey. Whereuponwhich we had to buy a round trip ticket from Tilehurst to London, thus paying twice for one segment. Don't ask why. It just is.

The train was packed and crept along because work was being done on the tracks. Like I say, it was an adventure, and we got to London, visited Westminister Abby, Methodist Central Hall, saw Big Ben, took a boat ride on the Thames, saw Trafalgar Square and ate tortilla soup at the Texas Embassy Cantina. And made it back to Tilehurst alive. Great fun. 

This page will have pictures from at least three London trips. Enjoy them and if there's something you'd like to see, send a request---you might help us define our next adventure.

We start here, at our very own train station in Tilehurst.

Cross over to platform 4 for the London Paddington train. Don't even ask about platform 9 3/4. Only 4 platforms here.

Reading station - it was a bit of a muddle when we were there. It was the half-term holiday, and everybody was trying to squeeze into a reduced train schedule.

We did and many stood all the way to London.

Arriving in London, we went via the London Underground to go to Westminister. You can read the adverts on the wall while waiting for the train.

But it's all worth it when you get to Westminister Abby, where they crown kings and queens. Bury them, too.

Costs 6 pounds to get in, but we had to stand in line. Some people were cold.

But while waiting, we could look at the north transept door--and there was a lot to see there.

St. Peter was there, holding the keys to the kingdom, so we had to be nice to him.

There was an angel playing a bagpipe.

One playing a shawm.

And assorted other instruments.

When we got inside there was no picture taking, but after the obligatory visit to the abby shop, we got a good view of the front.

And, guess what----when you turn around, you look across the street and see Methodist Central Hall (where the United Nations was founded). You can cross over and visit the rather nice (and inexpensive) cafe in the basement.

Seriously, don't try London without a good map. Use it frequently. No two streets in London run parallel.

You can find obscure places like the Whitechapel Bell Foundry if you use your map. We did.

Big Ben captures your ear and eye as you head from Westminister Abby to the River Thames.

If you want to see lots of London in a short time, the best way is to take a cruise on the Thames. Cruises vary in length from 1 to 4 hours and depart from Westminister pier.

Along the way you'll see interesting sites, both historical and new. This is the London Eye, the world's largest farris wheel. It takes 1/2 hour to go completely around. Each capsule holds 25 people and you stand the entire time. 11 pounds per person charge.

The Globe Theatre--an exact re-creation of Shakesphere's theater, including the opening in the roof and no seating for those in the pit.

The original Queen Mary luxury liner.

Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, with Blackfriars Bridge in the foreground.

The famous Tower Bridge is quite majestic from the middle of the river.

And the Tower of London comes into view on the north bank of the river.

We come closer to the Tower Bridge,

and finally pass under it.

This is what the Tower Bridge looks like from the top side.

And the Tower of London from the side away from the Thames.

Overlooking the Tower, just outside of the Tower Underground entrance, there stands a large sundial. Around the dial, in a circle, is a timeline of the history of England and London.

This section of the circle commomerates the Viking invasion of England.

And this section the period from 1849 through 1863 and the events that occurred during that time.

Back to the river, this is HMS Belfast, a pocket battleship permanently moored in the Thames, which is open for tours.

The London Mayor's office, otherwise know as the motorcycle helmet.

An Egyptian obelisk, the oldest structure along the Thames. Some say it was given to England and others say it was stolen from the Egyptians.

The Tate Modern Art gallery is on the south side of the Thames, but is connected to the north bank by a foot bridge.

Coming to the end of our river cruise, we get a wonderful view of Parliament and Big Ben.

Trafalgar Square is a short tube ride away and the Underground Station exit puts you right in the square.

On the north side of Trafalgar Square is the National Portrait Gallery.

You know you're in Trafalgar Square when you see the lions

We ended our day at the Texas Embassy Cantina, owened by Gene Street et al., eating tortilla soup and our favorite Texas beverages.

 

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