On this day we did more exploring, less structured in what we did. There was always a plan to hit certain sights, but we weren’t held to a specific order or pattern. Today we decided to take the tube to Westminster station and see Elizabeth Tower and the Houses of Parliament.
Unfortunately it was in the middle of a four year restoration project that isn’t due to be completed until sometime in 2021. This was the one clock face still visible, and Big Ben doesn’t ring except for certain situations. We decided to cross Westminster Bridge and get some breakfast at Pret.
After this we crossed back over and explored Parliament Square and the adjacent Westminster Abbey.
Above is the east entrance, below is the north entrance.
We did the self-guided tour inside that showed all the famous people buried within. It was well worth the time spent to see inside and out. Highly recommended.
After Westminster Abbey, we went back to Whitehall Street and headed north. Here we saw most of the big government buildings and the entrance to Downing Street. We saw the Centotaph, the entrance to the Horse Guards Parade. We had free entrance to Banqueting House via our pass, so we spent some time inside there. It was interesting, but I would not say compelling.
We diverted down a couple of side streets to explore and came across Ben Franklin’s house randomly.
After this it was time to get some lunch. Pleased with our experience at Borough Market we headed to Covent Garden Market. We were expecting more of the same, but this was much more commercial. We tried to eat locally, however the sit down restaurant was absurdly expensive and we decided to just eat at Shake Shack. Ironically, this was the first time I had ever eaten at this American restaurant chain. It was really good, so no complaints there.
After lunch it was time to explore further, so we headed down a small side street to Embankment and found one of the three Cleopatra needles. Also, the requisite red phone box.
We then crossed under the train bridge into Charing Cross, up Northumberland Ave and found Trafalgar Square. Here is the National Gallery, Nelson’s Column, and the Admiralty Arch.
From there we went along Pall Mall to Waterloo Place where we saw the statue to Florence Nightingale, which my wife appreciated as she is a nurse. We walked north on Waterloo until we found Piccadilly Circus.
We were getting a bit tired at this point, so we started wandering down Piccadilly to Green Park, where we made a diagonal approach to the Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace.
From there we went up Constitution Hill through the Wellington Arch, down Knightsbridge and toured a bit of Harrods. We should have left this for another day as we were supremely tired at this point.
Somehow we still had enough energy to hop on a bus back around to our flat where we finally experienced an English pub – The Elephant & Castle. I had some good London Lager and some fish and chips. It was a great day capped off my some great food and drink.