A beautiful Easter holiday in London
07.04.2009 - 12.04.2009
I think I'm setting a record here; a blog entry mere days after an adventure!
To begin today, I just want to thank Amie once again for being my wonderful host and ultimate tour guide while I was there! It was so nice to be able to stay at her place and have such a knowledgeable guide in such an amazing metropolis of a city. Thanks Amie!! Kiitos paljon!
So! Here we go on another adventure! I embarked on this journey by train to Tampere, a city just north of Turku, where I went to the tiny tin box of an airport to get on a plane to London. Within a couple of hours, I was welcomed into Amie's house, desperate for some sleep and thrilled to be in Londontown! On Wednesday we did what Amie likes to call "the whirlwind London tour" starting with St. Paul's Cathedral, and seeing the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, Trafalgar Square, and the National Gallery among about a zillion other things that made me gasp with awe and disbelief. These are the things I've read about in books or seen in movies, and then I was seeing them with my own eyes! I had to pinch myself almost every time, making sure my mind was really comprehending the amazing-ness of the situation! All I could think was "Holy shit, I'm in LONDON!" and that feeling never wore off! The best way to share this with you is through pictures, so here goes!
One of my first glimpses of London, and I must admit, one of my favourite places in the city. It's actually the very same church that Mary Poppins describes as the place where you go to "feed the birds, tuppence a bag", so from then on, I was singing songs from that movie. All the time. :D
The next 'pinch me!' moment; the parliament buildings and Big Ben!
It's really quite shiny!
"The London Eye" An incredibly giant ferris wheel that I got to go for a 'flight' in on Friday morning
As you can tell, we had beautiful weather for the whirlwind tour of London. This is Westminster Abby, right behind Big Ben. This is where British royalty has been crowned and buried since 1022. It was absolutely breathtaking inside.
Buckingham Palace! Unfortunately the Queen wasn't home for tea.
I was trying to figure out who you'd need to be in order to get a job here. I'd even be satisfied being the guy in the tux who was there just to open a door for all of the important people that were coming and going!
After Buckingham Palace Amie and I had a lovely picnic lunch in one of London's many beautiful parks. That was one very surprising thing about London; I expected smog and smell, but with all the parks filled with daffodils, tulips, and zillions of cherry blossoms, I actually fell in love with the smell!
Amie showed me this great memorial for Princess Diana. Instead of a giant shiny statue that most royals get when they die, she got this wonderful fountain. It's almost 'interactive'. People can actually enjoy it, and it's really pretty.
This was Diana's last home: Kensington Palace.
This is what I mean about the giant shiny statues! This is me and Prince Albert. Queen Victoria may have gone a bit overboard with honouring her late husband!
Classic tourist picture! I had to! However, I found that it's impossible to breathe inside them - they're like little red ovens in the sunshine.
Another typical London photo! There aren't many of these old buses around, but they're just so cool!
Amie and I in Trafalgar Square!
The crowd in front of the national gallery at Trafalgar Square. See if you can spot the redhead!
After wandering through the national gallery among beautiful Monet's, Van Gogh's, and a plethora of other fantastic artworks, we went out for some pub grub supper and headed back to Amie's to get to bed early. We were both beat after such a long day of being Super-tourists! I think I should make myself a superhero cape for my next Super-tourist adventure :D
Thursday morning we started in the West End to get our tickets to a show! We ended up getting great tickets for a show called "Blood Brothers" and it was soooo good! This photo is just an example of how the theatres in that area look!
Then we were off to Buckingham palace for the changing of the guard. However, this is all we saw. There was no changing that day.
The crowds at the palace!
These signs were great! So many wonderful choices!
Westminster Abby again, this time I got to go inside! So incredibly moving.
Westminster Tube station, I spent a lot of time riding the underground!
Greenwich Royal Observatory. That clock has the EXACT time. So cool!
Me on the Prime Meridian of the World! Longitude 0-0-0, standing in both the Western and Eastern hemispheres!
The Royal Observatory
We think this is Henry the Eighths Winter Palace!
Beautiful cherry blossoms in a Greenwich graveyard. It was sooo beautiful!
We went to a little Greenwich pub for dinner, and we saw something strange on the Beer menu: Sierra Nevada. Amie was quite excited that we could 'possibly' be drinking our own Barley! Good ol' Prairie Malt. haha. Actually, it was really good! Delightfully fruity in fact, :D
From Greenwich Amie and I found our way to the Pheonix theatre to see Blood Brothers. I had never heard of it before, but it was truly amazing. It was funny and charming, and in the end, heart-wrenching. I haven't cried that hard because of a play in a very long time! I'm still singing the songs in my head now and then.
Friday morning I started out on my own, embarking on a walk that was longer than I could have ever anticipated, but it was so worth it! It began at the London Eye where I got to fly above London for some spectacular views, then all the way down the South Bank to the famous Tower Bridge, to the Tower of London, to the Bank district, to St. Pauls, and finally, to meet Amie at Shakespeare's globe theatre. I had a fabulous time wandering the streets of London!
St. Paul's from the London Eye
Buckingham palace! It's right behind that huge park
The glass eggs that you ride in :D
Big Ben and Westminster Abby
It looks so moody and mysterious in this picture, I like it!
Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's
Believe it or not, this is London's City Hall! It looks like it was put through mom's egg slicer...
The magnificent Tower Bridge!
The Tower of London (where Henry the 8th chopped all his wives heads off and a number of other atrocities were committed) with the crazy looking Gherkin
Tower of London again. It was built as a prison fortress.
A picture of a picture of the Tower in its prime. As you can see, there was no easy escape!
One of the hundreds of Black Cabs you see everywhere.
St. Dunstan's in the East church. I stumbled upon these ruins on my way from the Tower. The Church had been destroyed in the Blitz in the Second World War, and now they've made it into a beautiful garden. I would have sat in there for hours if it hadn't been raining!
"The Monument" - It was built in the late 1600's by Christopher Wren (he also built the cathedral!) to commemorate the victims of the Great Fire that swept through London some years before. Apparently you can walk up to the top of it for some great views..Another thing on my list of things to do next time in London!
One of the many impressive buildings in the old Banking district.
The Bank of England
The beautiful St. Paul's Cathedral once again. It was so beautiful with the spring flowers!
However, some renovations were happening on the back of the Cathedral. I thought it was strange to find stone religious figures in a pile out back!
The steps of St. Paul's! For those of you familiar with Mary Poppins, this is where 'early each morning, the little old bird woman comes'. I couldn't stop singing, "feed the birds! Tuppence a bag!"
The Globe Theatre!
The stage inside the Globe.
It's almost an exact replica of the first Globe theatre, which unfortunately burnt down after a blunder in special effects..a cannon blast started the thatched roof on fire! This version of the theatre is equipped with sprinklers! It was really special to be able to go inside, especially for me being such a big fan of Shakespeare!
The London Bridge! It was the first bridge to be constructed across the Thames. Not this exact one of course, London Bridge has indeed fallen down many times!
My last day in London was a unique experience for both Amie and I. It was a kind of pilgrimage into both our family history and into popular culture. Gramma Sapsford had given Amie the address where Great-Great Grampa and Gramma, Ernest and Alice Sapsford, had lived during the 1901 Census so we were determined to go find it! However, our curiosity got the better of us before we left the house that morning; we also looked up on Gramma's history website the place where Great-Grampa Charlie was born, according to his birth certificate!
This is Pleasant place, the street on which Ernie and Alice lived for a time
Amie in front of Dawlish house!
The address Gramma gave us was "9 Dawlish house" so we figured they must have lived up in the loft
Next, 264 Caledonian Road where Great Grampa Charlie was born.
Both houses were actually just a short distance away from each other in Islington
After walking in the footsteps of our Sapsford ancestors, we went over to Kings Cross Station where we walked in the footsteps of millions of other crazy Harry Potter fans, trying our luck getting through the magic platform that would take us to Hogwarts school.
We tried, but alas, no luck.
The last little pop-culture pilgrimage was to the infamous Abbey Road Studios.
Trying to recreate the magical moment when the Beatles walked across this very crosswalk.
Abbey Road! Oh it was so much fun!
After another wonderful day in London, we made our way back to Amie's place where we roasted a chicken, and had ourselves a marvelous Easter dinner together! By 5 am the next morning I was in a cab and on my way to Stanstead airport. I had a short stop in Frankfurt, Germany where I enjoyed some lovely German chocolate eggs, then I was off again to Tampere. Absolutely exhausted, I wandered around the city for a couple of hours while I waited for my train to take me home and I even was mistaken for being Irish at a little pub I stopped at for tea. Maybe a week in London fiddled with my accent a bit or something, because the barkeep was sure convinced I couldn't possibly be Canadian. All I could think of was "just you wait until I spend a couple weeks in Ireland this summer and THEN you can tell me I've got an Irish accent!"
London was truly a breathtaking city. It was so big, but so pretty too! I got to check so many things off my bucket list! A West End show, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Big Ben to name a few, while I discovered many other places that will remain pretty high on my favourite places list! Greenwich was incredible, and seeing where my family lived in London 4 generations back was so amazing. I had such a great time!
Now, after a couple days back at home in Turku, I've finally finished Finnish class! And now, I've used the joke, so you can't! So there! haha! Now I've just got 2 more classes to complete, and in the meantime, I'll be going to Moscow and St. Petersburg next week!! I've actually been thinking lately, with all of this constant excitement and stimulation in my new European lifestyle, it will take a serious period of adjustment going back home! Prepare yourselves for a more than occasional call from me asking you to come on an adventure with me!!
Well I think that's enough for now, I'll hopefully be doing another update when I get back from Russia on the 26th. I can't believe April is almost over!! From now on I'm past that halfway point of my travels and there will be less days in Europe ahead of me than days that I've spent here!
Live, Laugh, and Love always,