on September 2, 2006
It is impossible to make any kind of trip to London with out watching the Changing of the Guard. It’s just wrong and if you don't plan to do it, you should feel mildly ashamed. To be honest, it's not that exciting and resembles most tourist attractions in that you see it to say you have seen in. And though missing something like that in some places in lieu of doing something else it's such a fundamental part of the scenery and the atmosphere of a trip to London that to miss it would be very wrong indeed. Plus it's free. Unless you are very strapped for time indeed, even if you have no interest in it whatsoever, I do recommend that you stroll across Hyde Park and give it a look. It's a 40 minute ceremony in total, and even if you don't have the energy or the time to watch the entire thing, it is simply something that everyone who visits England should see (and photograph.) You'll feel the hole in your trip when you get back if you don't. If you’re looking forward to this tradition, however, than I suspect you will find it suitably gratifying. It's not electrifying entertainment, but it is culturally interesting and great for writing home on post cards and getting photos for the album. The ceremony leaves Wellington Barracks three minutes before the change and then marches down to Buckingham Palace via Birdcage walk (a nice walk you should make with or with out the Changing ceremony) It's not always easy to get a good view of it, so come early as you can. I was running a bit late and some of my friends had decided to hang back. My friend Jeff and I, however (a fellow photographer) sprinted at breakneck speed through Hyde Park, jumping over benches to get there in time, and made it huffing just in time to get some great shots. The ceremony runs daily at 1130 am from April to October and every other day from November to March. (Check the website for specific schedules and changes) And of course, cheesy as it may sound, you must go round the corner to the lone guard standing motionless by the gate and have your photo taken. It's the law. It's all good fun, and should be a part of any trip to London. It's a nice, traditional area of the city surrounded by beautiful parks and a nice waterway. It is crowded, but not much of London isn't, and it’s surprisingly uncramped given the number of people who show up to see it. All in all a nice way to spend a London afternoon.
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