Way back in January, we took a weekend trip to London. As January can be rather cold, wet, and windy, you may wonder why. Well the unfortunate truth is I had to go to the US Embassy early on the Monday morning, so we decided to head up early and do a little light sight-seeing. I would have liked to include some pictures of the US Embassy itself so you could see (a) the queue that extended about a block and a half; and (b) how many submachine guns there were per square metre of land area. But, mostly due to (b), I didn't take any photos there. Submachine gun toting people make me nervous ;) Anyhow, due to the time of year the pictures are a bit on the gloomy side. Also, most of the sights are so well known I'm not bothering with much commentary - you'll probably recognise most of it! But for what it's worth, here goes!
As it was our first ever trip to London, naturally we stepped out into the street and were immediately struck down by "Ooh, red bus!" syndrome. So there's the result ;) We were staying at the Holiday Inn Mayfair, so were really in central London. The hotel is right near Green Park (which is the name of the Park as well as the name of a Tube station). Here are the gates to the Park when walking through it from Victoria train station up to Mayfair:
We first headed down past Piccadilly Circus and towards Westminster. On the way was something that interested me a great deal, the memorial to the Crimean War:
The picture on the right is detail from the frieze (if that is the correct word - perhaps 'panel' is better!) which I thought was beautiful. Also there, of course, was Florence Nightingale, the 'Lady with the Lamp'. Or more to the point, the Lady With a Decent Idea About Sanitation.
Just down from the Crimea memorial was the Duke of York's Column:
You know him:
Oh, the grand old Duke of
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of
The hill and he marched
Them down again.
And when they were up they
And when they were down they were down.
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.
Which doesn't say much for his sense of military manoeuver if you ask me! He could have at least tried a simple pincer movement. Anyway, it must have worked because now he has a really big column. So on we went towards Trafalgar Square. On the way we saw two international representations of note:
On the left, New Zealand
House. On the right......well...... less said the better, really!
Dubya Country :P
The main feature in Trafalgar Square is of course Nelson's Column. 2005 was also the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, so there were a lot of events associated with that through the country this year. Other sights from Trafalgar Square included:
On the left is General Napier - after whom the town in NZ was named, I assume. Above is Admiralty Arch, which marks the entrance to The Mall. And of course, one of the famous lions:
From Trafalgar Square we walked down Whitehall. Along the way is the Cenotaph:
Also down that way is a statue of Field Marshal Montgomery, or as he was later titled 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein. Also along Whitehall is the entrance to Downing Street, although the public is kept out and not allowed along to look at the door of Number 10. Disappointing!
On a building - the purpose of which escapes me - there were another set of friezes/panels/decorative bits. These covered the various areas of the world under the British Empire in Victorian times. So naturally there is an Australasia:
Bloody nerve! Talk about stereotypical cheek.....I'm assuming Australia is represented by the kangaroos, so guess what is left to represent New Zealand. Damn Victorians. I suppose it would be difficult to fit in 15 triumphant All Blacks instead, however.
Further along Whitehall, and there's a famous sight:
Unfortunately some people are so busy looking at the time they forget to watch the road:
Next we went to Westminster Abbey, but since it was Sunday they weren't letting people in. If that sounds contrary to the usual Christian religious practices, perhaps I should say they weren't letting tourists in - just the regular congregation. You had to have something like a church version of a library card to get in apparently. But there were plenty of things to photograph:
Here there be dragons ;)
Bonus points if you can name all these blokes :)
Now onto the opposition. A bit further down the road was Westminster Cathedral, which is the Catholic version (the Abbey is Anglican).
The outside was impressive, but the inside rather dark and gloomy - hence a lack of pictures in there. Also, much to Jason's chagrin (he still rants about it) the interior is still being worked on....... 100-ish years after they started. Still, it takes a long time to save up for all that gold leaf that is essential to big-Cathedral Catholicism :)
On the Tube, then, and a quick trip out to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge:
Just across from the Tower of London was another memorial, this time to the Merchant Marine. This was a very nice sandstone-looking sculpture along with a beautiful garden. Very tasteful.
Also in the same area was a small memorial to those executed on the gallows that used to stand in this spot:
Back on the Tube and to Victoria. Then walking again, this time heading up to Buckingham Palace.
Across from "Buck House" is the huge statue to Queen Victoria:
The lion with the big beefy bloke (a blacksmith?) was a gift from New Zealand. Probably in revenge for the whole sheep thing earlier. I believe it shows a NZ All Black about to execute a British Lion. Just like this rugby season :)
And a last view from the Victoria statue looking up into Green Park.
So, that was our first, brief trip to London. Not the best of travelogues, but hopefully it will give you an idea of what we've been up to so far.
Go back if you want to see anything else :)