Saturday, December 7, 2013

Day 33: London

Extremely conscious of my impending birthday and that this was my brother’s last full day with me, I felt very nervous. 

We arrived at Green Park tube station a little before 9:45am and strolled to Buckingham Palace to find a spot for the Changing of the Guard. People already lined the famous fence so Cazy suggested we stand behind two children near the gate. Surprisingly, they and their mother moved, giving us an enviable and unobstructed view (well, there was still a fence!).

As we waited (argh, until 11am), people piled in behind us, pressing us against the fence and my knees into my bag (I had placed it between my body and the fence to keep it safe). The tops of arrow-shaped features in the black-painted fence were stripped of paint, dulled into grey tips from where millions of hands have grabbed them - now including mine.

After 11am, there were more than just two guards swaying on their feet - a man with a sword pottered about then the old guard showed up, accompanied by a loud band and guards upon horses. The new guard then arrived, also with a band. To our delight, the guards shuffled through the pebbles underfoot to align themselves with each other (the crowd tittered).


Then the old guard band played “Skyfall” by Adele which sounds amazing in brass. And dude, a James Bond song in the grounds of Buckingham Palace with the Queen’s standard flying! The other band played an epic rendition of the Les Mis medley. Afterwards, the gaurds marched in odd formations and the bands folded up their music. All the groups marched out (including the gathering of apparently important people who were allowed to watch from the steps of the palace) and the press of bodies behind us lessened.

Hold your breath and count to ten...

We took obligatory snaps of the area, including the Victoria Memorial, then walked up to Trafalgar Square which unfortunately was walled off for some sporting event. I managed to get photos of Nelson’s Column.

We dropped by the hotel (Cazy’s camera’s battery was failing us again) and had lunch at a great burger place in Southwark on Clink Street (although this should have sated us, we still bought brownies at Borough Market). Cazy walked directly back but I caught the tube from London Bridge to Westminster to 1) get telescopic shots of Big Ben and 2) get a friend a lighter from the London Eye.

The telescopic lens did not reveal Peter Pan.

I was hampered by heavy sprinkling and slow, annoying tourists (including Americans who thought we were all checking the wrong way for traffic) but I was successful. Being ignorant of the way to Waterloo, I recrossed Westminster Bridge and took the tube to Southwark. I was pleased to pass Cazy on my way back to the hotel - he was on his way to Hyde Park.

I chilled for a while and he returned. We then toasted my birthday with Celtic Mead. 

Went to sleep, knocked out thoroughly by 14% alcohol.

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