on July 15, 2009
Buckingham Palace is one attraction in London which is often high on many tourists list when coming to visit London and I had walked past a few times and found myself in awe of the beauty of the building. On a trip to London last year I decided that enough was enough and I was going to visit the Palace and experience it's true splendour and beauty for myself. The nearest tube station is Green Park and this is where we departed. The Palace is well signposted and took just five or ten minutes at an average walking speed (read - slow). Buckingham Palace stands amazingly tall and is one of the most instantly recognisable landmarks in the world. It has 828,818 square foot of floorspace and it is absolutely gigantic! It is visited by around 50,000 invited guests each year who attended the Summer Garden Parties, Dinners, Lunches, Breakfasts and is currently open to the public for 60 days in the Summer (26th July - 30th September this year), however, this will be increasing in the future due to the increase in Government funds being granted for palace repairs. There are several ways to book tickets for a visit to the palace and there are two types of tickets available. Tickets can be booked on the day from the ticket office on Buckingham Palace Road, on the website www.royalcollection.org.uk (£1.25 booking fee applies) or by calling 0207 766 7324 if you are a wheelchair user or want to book one of the BSL Interpreted & Lipspeaking tours. Visit The State Rooms (Free Audio Guide):Adults £16.50Over 60 + Students (Valid ID required) £15.00Under 17 £9.50Under 5 FreeFamily (2 Adults & 3 Under 17's) £44.00Royal Day Out (State Rooms, Royal Mews & Queens Gallery)Adults £29.50Over 60 + Students (Valid ID Required) £26.50Under 17 £16.50Under 5 FreeFamily (2 Adults & 3 Under 17's) £78.00The palace is open from 09:45 - 18:00 (last admission 15:45). The visit that we went on was the State Rooms only and as there were just two adults it cost us £33.00 which for the time we spent exploring was quite reasonable. We purchased our tickets on the day and each ticket is printed with an allocated start time (in 15 minute increments) and you must attend in your time slot or you will miss out on your visit. There was a short queue to go in and then we went through metal detectors and were checked if we had any metal bits on us (I did!). Once this had been done we were all handed complimentary headsets which were very easy to use and as we walked through the rooms it told us when to play the next bit as it explained each of the rooms to use. Also, under many of the paintings on display there were codes which could be input in to the headset and then individual guides on that painting would begin. I found this audio guide to be fantastically informative and it was very easy to work. I believe that less tech savvy people would be able to operate these as well. As well as the audio guide there are guide books available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese & Russian. We spent around 2 and a half hours browsing around the State Rooms and looking at all the equisitive decor & artwork. I was amazed by how luxurious some of the rooms really are and it was fantastic to imagine that the Queen has been in these rooms and had guests here. Everything was immaculately clean and although I looked hard to spot crumbs or dust I was duly disappointed.Once the State Rooms had all been seen we headed out in to a small area of the Queen's vast gardens. Here there was a small cafe type area to purchase ice creams & bottles of water, as well as a gift shop, toilets & baby changing facilities. However, if you do take a baby to visit the State Rooms you must book your pushchair in at the beginning and retrieve it at the end of your visit.It is possible to visit the State Rooms for only a short time if you want to rush through as there is no restriction (besides opening & closing times) on how long your visit can take. Also, if you want to see the changing of the guards this is currently taking place at 11am at the front of the Palace and lasts for around 40 minutes. We did not see this on this occasion but I intend on go back in a couple of months to see this. The gift shop was quite a nice visit and contained the usual London style souvenirs as well as some Palace souvenirs, some at a reasonable price, some not.Overall we had a lovely afternoon visiting the State Rooms & a small area of the garden. It was fairly nice weather without being unbearably hot and I was kept nice and cool inside the Palace without being frozen by air conditioning. I hope that we will return again in a years time and take a few friends or relatives with us. Also, if you want to visit the Palace outside of these opening weeks then you can always just so and stand at the gates for the changing of the guard or to see if the flag is up indicating that the Queen is in residence.A trip to Buckingham Palace is highly recommend but it's probably not the most ideal place for babies or young children because they will find it boring and I saw a few younger children trying to touch things and just generally acting very bored and making a loud racket, also, who wants to be the parent that everyone else is tutting at? This is my reason for voting 4/5 but I would definitely recommend it as the perfect places for adults to visit, especially if you get a slightly rainy day and want somewhere gorgeous to shelter worst learning something new.
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