Had breakfast with some bus people before heading over to the Tavistock. There was a bit of trouble there as my friend had the hotel voucher with her and had forgotten to give it to me. The hotel had to get in touch with Air Canada vacations to verify the booking which took an extra day as it was Labour Day in Canada and the office was closed but it turned out ok, i didn't have to pay for the room again!
This afternoon i took the subway...sorry, the Underground to the Strand where i had arranged to meet an older couple from Victoria. Seems to me that was my first try at the Tube which was a bit intimidating at first because i was afraid I'd get on the wrong train or go the wrong way. We three walked through Trafalgar square down the Mall to Buckingham Palace. You'd be hard pressed to decide whether there were more tourists or more pigeons in Trafalgar square! We walked around St. James park to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. There's Big Ben!! We wound up back at Trafalgar square after coming back up Whitehall past Downing Street which is closed off to the public for security reasons. Westminster was rebuilt after a fire in Victorian times and finished near the end of the 19th century but it was built in a gothic style to match Westminster abbey. It's so ornate and really beautiful. Anyway we had a quick early dinner at a New York style restaurant along the Strand and parted ways. I made my way back to the hotel successfully by Tube and relaxed for the evening.
My last day in London i spent on my own, on my feet mostly. Continental breakfast comes with the room so i had a light meal of cereal and tea and toast before setting off around 9 a.m. I arranged for an airport shuttle for the next morning so that was sorted out. I took a double decker bus to Charing Cross and sat up top of course! I went down Whitehall to Westminster Abbey to see inside again. We had dropped in yesterday but the back part was closed. Well it turns out that back part is the part you have to pay to see and i was getting a bit short on funds so decided to skip it. I wish i hadn't because that was where all the chapels and statues where the famous people are buried as well as the Coronation chair. The entrance fees to things are a bit pricey so i settled for a postcard or two. I walked back up past the back part of the Horse Guards barracks and saw where the war rooms were but again, that was a bit pricey to go in so i skipped it too. There aren't a lot of people around today, or at least not this early and it's also a bank holiday so there aren't too many office workers around either.
On to the National gallery in Trafalgar square...free admission! I saw some of the rooms rather quickly as they were on the way to the paintings i really wanted to see which were the ones painted before the 17th century. These are mostly religious in theme or painted versions of allegories and mythologies. Some of the art from the 13thto 15th centuries was actually removed from altars in churches and painted on wood or stone. My favourites of course are the impressionist works on the 19th century. I also loved the Turner and Constable works. I read in my journal that "Renoir is ok" but now, 7 years later i just love Renoir, Cezanne and Pisarro as well. I would have bought a print or two but didn't have anything solid to keep them in and was afraid they'd get crushed or torn in my suitcase.
After leaving the gallery i made my way to Picadilly circus, stopping for lunch at an Arby's, my one concession to fast food this trip! I went into the London Palladium complex and had thought i would go to the Rock Circus where there is the history of Rock and Roll along with music and wax figures but again, more expensive than i expected. It would work out to be something like 14 dollars for what would have taken less than a half hour to see. Had a peek into Planet
Hollywood to see some of the memorabilia on display.
I took the tube to Harrods but didn't see too much of it other than the main floor and food halls as my back and legs were protesting very loudly. I had to buy something in Harrods so i bought a small package of teabags and some loose tea! The food halls truly were amazing although I've heard the food section in Fortnum and Mason is equally or more impressive! I staggered out of there and walked down Cromwell road past the Victoria and Albert Museum but, energy waning, i decided to head back to the hotel. I found a convenience store that sold packaged sandwiches and bought one, and a bottle of juice to take back with me. I really like the Tube, it's so fast and now I'm getting the hang of using it.
After my light meal i got ready to go to the theatre. I decided not to dress up too much, just nice pants and a blouse and i took a taxi to the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, one of the oldest in London. This building is not the original on the site but it's about 200 years old as it is! Met up with my fellow tour traveler out front and we went inside the ornately decorated theatre and found our seat. We thoroughly enjoyed the musical which was very sad at the end. What a show! This is the one that has a real helicopter lowered down from the rafters at one point! It took us quite awhile to get a taxi after the show in spite of people telling us there were cabs everywhere. They all seemed to be taken! We were a bit nervous on the street at night but it turned out ok and we were quite safe after all. Got a taxi and were dropped off at our hotels.
So the my dream trip is over. A few observations and comments: The age of everything constantly amazed me. It was nothing to see houses and buildings 300 to 500 years old and still being used. There are flowers *everywhere*! Even if just in a window box or a small plant pot outside the door if that's all there was room for! The people on the tour were so nice other than one or two that were complainers but mainly they were just great! David told us he always says a little prayer before a tour "Please let them be normal!" David was the best, too, and he was very well informed and had obviously done a lot of research. He was always looking up notes and things in a laptop and playing music for us. Bill, our driver was very skilled and we always felt safe. The food was mostly excellent, except for motorway stops and the beer was great! I took 13 rolls of film and they mostly all turned out fabulous! We saw a lot of countryside, most of it just beautiful. There's a lot of different types of scenery across the country and so many different kinds of architecture most of it old. I've been back to the UK many times since then and I still enjoy it sights and history very much.