London, Vienna, Prague Trip Report
Part 2 – Easter Sunday London
As can be expected, we took our time getting going on Sunday. That is, my wife took her time. She can fall asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow and sleep straight through. Myself, I toss and turn all night then get up early, especially when I’m in a foreign country.
So I left her in bed, and went out with my cameras to discover a little bit of old Stratford, London. The day started out gloomy and cold, but later would turn sunny. I took a walk on High Street taking pictures of interesting looking buildings, a rounded Tudor style pub, ‘The Builders Arms’; the ‘King Edward VII’ , an early 18th-century pub with triangle pedimented doors and bay windows; ‘St. Johns’ a soaring church from 1832 built in “the early English style”. To someone who lives around there, these are probably just ordinary looking buildings, but, to someone from the States, these old buildings are fascinating.
I walked on further through the quiet streets, until I found an open grocery store run by a Pakistani looking gentleman. I bought some oranges, bananas and a pack of dates to take back to the room. I was surprised that the dates only cost about 50 pence; in the U.S. those dates would be about 2 or 3 dollars. I walked back a different way, through the neighborhood, looking at the well kept salt box row houses; one was particularly nice with a pebbly type facing with vines growing on it.
My wife was ready and we got out of the hotel room around 11 AM, so I decided to use the 25% coupon that I won the day before in the hotel Easter egg hunt. The kitchen was not quite ready to serve lunch yet, so we killed a little time taking pictures in front of the fireplace and sitting in the plush leather chairs, in the hotels ‘Club’ room.
The lunch at the Westbridge Hotel turned out to be very good, we both had shrimp appetizers and delicious broiled baby lamb chops with chips, or as we call them in America, french fries. The total cost of the meal after the discount was only about 20GBPs. (I realized after the meal that they forgot to charge us for a coke.)
Although it was too late to see the changing of the guard, we still wanted to see Buckingham Palace. I had seen the changing of the guard on my first trip 22 years ago but my wife never has, and I guess she won't, however, I was glad that I wouldn't have to deal with a crowd.
A short walk from the hotel, over to Stratford station and a quick ride on the tubes and we were exiting out near Victoria Station. Being an iconic name known worldwide, we went over to see what the station looks like. With its large clock and mansard roofs, shes a beautiful old building.
We walked on over to Buckingham Palace, passing a large metal statue of a man upside down with his head buried in the ground. I was wondering if that was representative of the politicians. At the Palace the changing of the guard was over, but that didn't matter much as we could now get up close to the fence and take some long distance shots of the guards that were still standing there.
Suddenly one started to march on over toward the other guard, like he wanted to tell him something, but he suddenly turned and went back to his booth. It was good to get some movement though, for my video.
We took some nice pictures of the gates around the palace and walked around the area seeing the big archways in the road and the mall. We went into Green Park and saw some fluttering fields of yellow daffodils. They were starting to wilt, but were beautiful none the less. The sun had come out and it was turning into a beautiful day for sightseeing.
We walked on over to St James Park, and watched the local families and the tourists out enjoying the weather. We watched the ducks, geese and swans around the lake. The mallards were very large and colorful. The geese were large, as well. One of the geese looked like he was posing on one leg and I got a nice picture. You don’t see the European breed of goose in America. They’re more attractive than the grey Canadian geese common in the U.S. We were enjoying the stroll in the park but it was time to move on. It's our last day, and so much more to see.
We got in the tube to get over to the Thames, to see London Bridge. It was actually Tower Bridge that we wanted to see, but I’m sure I’m not the first person to make that mistake.
I’m probably not the first person, either, to get off at that station singing the ‘London Bridge is falling down’ song, but I was having a good time.
Walking over to London Bridge we stopped at a food stall and bought a belgian waffle with chocolate and strawberries. The vendor complained she was so busy that day. I joked with her that she must be making a lot of money. It was good that I joked with her because I got her to like me and she would later give me a good restaurant recommendation, which also caused me to walk in an area that I would have, otherwise, missed.
We shared our waffle, standing up looking across the river, and walked out on the bridge to take some pictures with Tower Bridge in the background. My wife complained that there was a naval ship in the way, I joked that I would go tell them to move it. My wife got mad at me for being sarcastic.
To get closer to Tower Bridge, we walked along the promenade, getting some nice views across the river looking at the ‘Cheese Grater’ and the ‘Gherkin’. Why do the English like to name their buildings after food?
We could also see the Tower of London, which was good because I had no plan of visiting it. I had seen it on my first trip and thought it was rather boring listening to the guides dressed as guards. We walked far enough to take pictures of the Tower Bridge, without a ship in front of it, now. Then we turned back to look for a place to eat.
Not knowing where to go, I stopped back at my friend, the waffle lady and asked her for a restaurant recommendation. She joked that I could come eat at her house. I said it would probably be better than a restaurant. Then in her cockney accent she asked her husband where we they should send this nice couple. He said go to the Anchor on the banks, on the other side of the bridge.
So we went that way and were pleasantly surprised to see the area called Bankside.
Lo and behold I was inadvertently doing one of the walks recommended in the guidebook.
We passed through old brick alleyways. Passing Southwark church I took an interesting picture, contrasting the tower of the old church with the new glass Shard building, behind it.
I really enjoyed that walk and was glad I didn't miss it. Thank you waffle lady.
We found the 300 year old Anchor Pub, and accidentally entered it the wrong way, from the upstairs terrace entrance.There was an empty table so I asked the bartender if we could sit there, and he said yes. It was fortunate we got that table because I noticed after that there were no more available tables and people were being turned away.
We sat there at the table for a while, the chairs were old and deep , hard to reach the table but comfortable for lazing in. After sitting there for about 20 minutes I realized there was no waiter and I needed to go to the bar to order my food. I liked that style better as there was no waiter that needed tipping.
I ordered us a couple of pints. I had the fish and chips and my wife had a dish with an assortment of fried foods, fish, sausage, etc. We sat back and enjoyed our last evening and last meal in London, in that ancient pub.
After finishing eating, we went back out on the promenade and walked on to the Millennium Bridge. I used the night scene setting on my camera and the tiny tripod I had been carrying to get some beautiful pictures of the Tower Bridge.
We would have liked to stay out longer, but our legs and feet were begging for mercy and we had to pack and get up for a 5:20 AM bus to Stansted Airport for our flight to Vienna, in the morning.
To be continued.......
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London, Vienna, Prague Trip Report -- Part 2 Easter Sunday London
London, Vienna, Prague Trip Report