Missed the beginning of our adventure? Check out days 1 and 2 here! Days 3 and 4 in London have been equally successful – I really, really love this town.
Yesterday morning, we decided to get an earlier start – no more of this sleeping in and missing out on things business! We fueled up with a big breakfast on the Concierge Floor of our hotel (got to love Marriott points!) in an attempt to hold us over until high tea. Eggs, sausage, fresh toast with an array of jams, yogurt with muesli and cereal, juices, tea, coffee, sparkling water – the works!
Then we hopped on to the Tube over to our first stop of the day.
Where were we headed? The Tower of London!
Contrary to popular belief (or my belief anyway), the Tower of London is not just a tower. It was a fortress, a prison, a royal castle – a place filled with lots and lots of history! We wavered on whether to buy the audio guides, but we loved them so much at Westminster Abbey so we got them again. Good choice.
Our first stop? The room that houses the Crown Jewels! Aka the most heavily guarded, and most popular, area of the fortress. No pictures were allowed (we even watched one guard walk over and force a group of boys to delete a photo), but a picture wouldn’t have even been able to capture the magnificent splendor. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds – jewels upon jewels upon jewels, set in crowns and sceptors and orbs and all kinds of things. I want to be royal, just for the jewelry perks!
After we had
drooled marveled enough, we headed back outside to walk around the top of the wall. The Tower is laid out with the main fortress in the center, and buildings with two fortress walls surrounding it. The tour guides you along the top of the inner wall, through many of the royal chambers. We saw beautiful stained glass…
windows covered in ivy…
Yep, that is Simon Baker, aka Patrick Jane, star of The Mentalist! Spotted by me. We also had some great views of the Tower Bridge, my favorite bridge across the Thames.
Altogether, a good stop! From there, we headed over to the Petticoat Lane Market. London is famous for their markets, and we wanted to be sure to check one out – and maybe make a few purchases…
A shirt for me, and a couple of scarves…all for 15 pounds! Got to love a good market for its deals. By this point, we were getting hungry. And it was starting to rain. The perfect time to head over to Kensington Park, to visit the Orangery!
The Orangery is famous for being Princess Diana’s frequent afternoon tea destination. Located in Kensington Park, right next to Kensington Palace, the location – and the tea – is excellent. Of course we had to visit it! A twenty minute wait, and we were seated. Life was good.
We all went with the classic English Afternoon Tea. Mom had wildberry tea, Dad had the Blue Flower Earl Grey (aka Lady Grey – typical), and I had the English afternoon tea. We also each got several finger sandwiches, an orange scone with butter and jam, and a selection of desserts. The whole thing was heavenly.
I’m serious about instituting afternoon tea as a daily occurrence upon my return to the States. From there, we strolled the grounds of Kensington Palace, admiring the beautiful gardens and the gate where flowers were laid in Princess Diana’s memorial.
From there, we decided to head home. We’d done enough walking for the day! Along the way, we stumbled upon Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, where people gather on Sundays to speak their mind about whatever subject they please. Most were male religious fanatics, standing on stools in small groups, arguing. Very odd.
Then we strolled past the Marble Arch, at which point Mom insisted that you could climb to the top…even though there are no windows. In her defense, you can climb to the top of another arch in London. Not this one.
From there, we dodged the pigeons and got back to our hotel. We snacked on some appys on the concierge floor (and the rest of our macaroons) and headed to bed.
This morning, we woke up bright and early again, ready to head back to Kensington Palace! Mom wanted to see Princess Di’s former home from the inside, and I wanted to see Kate and Will’s future home. We also woke up to a driving rain. We’ve been lucky so far with the weather, but that luck definitely wore out today!
The Princess Diana area was closed for cleaning when we got there, so we walked through Queen Victoria’s rooms first.We had a little bit of fun with the costumes.
Then it was off to Mom’s area – the display of Princess Diana’s dresses. Even the wallpaper had little pictures of Diana on it!
There was no love lost between Diana and the Queen before her death, so only five of her dresses are on display. But those five were beautiful! Mom was thrilled.
Then we headed through the rest of the palace, through the King’s and Queen’s staterooms. Both had incredible stories of history. The British monarchy is fascinating to me! This trip is definitely making me want to rewatch some movies and reread some books, about the UK’s story.
The highlight of my day? Peering out one of the windows into a completely walled-off area of the grounds – we think it is Kate and Will’s future backyard!
After perusing the gift shop, it was off to High Street Kensington for a little lunch. We found one of our faves.
Yum! There were tons of Indian food options of the hot bar, plus a whole tea section. We even got a cheese pastie to share. Heavenly.
The other highlight? Celebrity spotting number two – Adam Lambert! He was checking out in Whole Foods while we were, still wearing his sunnies inside. Such a celeb.
After lunch, we walked across the street to Zara – both Mom and I made some cute clothing purchases! I was channeling Kate Middleton, both in my choice of store and choice of fitted jacket. We peeked our heads in TopShop also, but decided it was too strange. Then we popped into the Marks and Spencer food halls – purchases were made there. (just not this strange Father’s Day fruitcake)
Then it was off to the Victoria and Albert museum of art and design, for an hour or so. We saw the clothing and jewelry exhibits, including this beautiful Balmain dress that Kate and I saw in Nashville on display a few years ago and drooled over!
By the end of the day, things were melting down. We were tired and hungry, and started acting like crazy tourists!
Nothing that a little beer and wine from the concierge floor, and then dinner at a gatropub of fish and chips, chicken and leek pie, and a burger (with a British mojito made with gin for me!) couldn’t fix. Off to bed now, so that we’ll be rested for the Harry Potter walking tour and Les Miserables tomorrow! Cannot wait.