The Sights of London

This is the first of a bunch of blog postings that I’ve been putting together from my trip. Rather than going through chronologically, as I’ve already done a quick chronology of the trip, I’ve done these more detailed postings by themes1. Apologies in advance for flooding your Twitter stream, Facebook feed, and/or RSS feed.

The London portion of our trip involved a lot of walking around and looking at things2. And shopping, because it’s against the law to go to London and not shop.

One of the coolest things we did in London was going on the London Eye, which is a giant ferris wheel type thingy on the River Thames. It takes about half an hour to go around the whole thing and thus gives you a good opportunity to look around and get the lay of the land – you could see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and even, way off in the distance, Buckingham Palace. As someone who had never been to London before, I really enjoyed it and it helped me to figure out where everything was so that we could then go see all sorts of famous London sights.


Houses of Parliament, as seen from the Eye:


Big Ben, as seen from the Eye3:


Another capsule full of people on the Eye:


Shadow of the Eye on the River Thames, as seen from the Eye4:


And here we are on the Eye – my Aunt Eileen is in the front, wearing white, and my mom and I are on the right, wearing sunglasses. Aunt Lynn is in there somewhere, but she’s hiding from the camera!

london eye 2013

We also did a boat cruise along the Thames, which we got as a package deal when we bought our tickets for the Eye. Because we are thrifty like that5. The tour was awesome because the tour guide gave a running commentary as you cruised along, so you learned a bunch of history about all the stuff you were looking at:

Going under the London Bridge:


The Tower Bridge:


Houses of Parliament, as seen from the river cruise:


I think the Houses of Parliament are my favourite site in all of London!

After our trip on the Eye and our boat cruise, we wandered around to see some of the sights up close.

As it happened, the day we were there was the day of a 100 km bike race from Surrey to London, so we got to see a bunch of people racing:


I took this photo of a statue of Oliver Cromwell near Parliament without really knowing much about him:


I’d hear a lot about him when I got to Ireland, and none of it was very nice. I looked it up when I got home and apparently there was controversy over the statue, as opinions on Cromwell are divided, what with the attempted genocide of the Irish and all.

We couldn’t actually go into Westminster Abbey the day we were there, but it looked lovely on the outside:




The first time I saw a sign for Cafe Nero, I totally thought it said “Cafe Nerd”:


Needless to say, I was very disappointed when I realized its actual name.

This priest was walking out of a church and he totally made me think of The Exorcist6.:


Buckingham Palace was a bit of a let down, because the palace itself was pretty crappy looking and it turns out that they only do the changing of the guard every other day in August, but they don’t tell you anywhere which day7. The gates were very pretty though – here I am with my mom in front of the gates; I’m doing my best royal wave!


Saw this pub on the way to do some shopping. In retrospect, I wish we’d stopped in for a pint:


The English national lottery logo bears a striking resemblance to the one for the Oregon state lottery8:


Oregon Lottery Sign

Of course, no trip to London would be complete without going to Harrod’s:


My mom bought a purse here, which was actually cheaper than buying the same person back in Toronto. Only my family can go to Harrod’s and find a bargain! On the not-a-bargain front, I wanted to buy a tin of cookies that had the most adorable pigeons on it, but it cost €30 – or about $45 Canadian – which is criminally expensive for nine cookies, regardless of how cute the tin is.  I also didn’t buy this coat at Marks & Spencer, but only because I couldn’t find it in my size9. I did, however, get three dresses at Miss Selfridge, which my Aunt Eileen insisted on buying for me. Thanks Aunty Eileen!

Speaking of shopping, one of the things that my mom was especially interested in doing when we were in London was going to Stephen Einhorn’s jewellery store:


After my dad died, my sister and I got my mom a pigeon charm for a charm bracelet, as my dad was an avid pigeon racer. Naturally, the place we found said pigeon charm was in England – from Stephen Einhorn, to be specific. The pigeon charm was quite heavy though, and didn’t work with my mom’s existing charm bracelet, so she wanted to buy a bracelet here. And then she bought a couple of charms. And another bracelet. And my aunts bought bracelets too10

Here are my Aunt Eileen and my Mom showing off their new bracelets:


And here’s a frequent site you see in England if you take the Underground (a.k.a. the Tube):


Mind the gap!

  1. Or by clever titles that I thought of and then came up with themes of stuff to write about so I could use said clever title. “Clever” as defined by me. YMMV. []
  2. My mom and Aunt Eileen had been to London before (though for my mom it was about 30 years ago), but my Aunt Lynn and I had never been, so there were tonnes of things that we wanted to see! []
  3. I didn’t know this previously, but Ben is actually the bell inside the clock tower, not the clock itself. []
  4. So meta. []
  5. Yes, nothing says “thrifty” like going to Europe in August! []
  6. Also, he doesn’t look too happy about me taking his picture. []
  7. At least, it wasn’t on the sign that told us it happens every other day, nor could I find it on their website. []
  8. I took the photo of the Oregon state lotto logo on a trip to Oregon a couple of year ago, as the idea of the logo being crossed fingers struck me as particularly funny. []
  9. Despite checking one M&S store in London and two in Dublin. Plus the website – apparently every women in the British Isles who is my size will be wearing that coat this fall. Also, M&S had free shipping to Canada if you order online, which is good to know! []
  10. I contemplated buying a ring, but in the end decided that while I liked it, I didn’t *love* it, so couldn’t justify the purchase. []

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