1. There are a lot of bridges in London. And none are falling down. My travel partner, TravelMarx, dragged me around this city 13 hours a day. So we walked most of them, including Tower Bridge (above), Westminster Bridge and the footbridge to Tate Modern. By far, Tower Bridge is the prettiest.
2. If taking a ride on the London Eye, slip the guy a 20 so you can get to the front of the line. Seriously, there's always a fast track. A little extra cash gets you in faster. Time is money. You're on vacation. Live a little.
(Photo by TravelMarx)
3. The crown jewels are kept in London Tower and apparently only guarded by this lone guard. Yeah, like who's he gonna stop? I'll bet he never saw The Matrix Reloaded. Nobody can stop Keanu.
The crown jewels at London Tower were an impressive exhibit. But the changing of the guards was a let down. It's crowd mayhem at Buckingham Palace. Thousands of people jam the Palace circle daily and by 11 you can't get a decent spot for viewing it.
Buckingham Palace is yet another place to pay a little more for a better experience. Thousands of people were lined up around the palace all day waiting for general admission. But we had pre-paid tickets for entry at 2:15 PM so we don't have to wait, right? Wrong. Though we were given the ability to merge in the top of the line, we still had to merge with general admission so there was a 30 minute line to entry. There's an even more private tour, not available to us during our trip, that you can sign up for that I'll be sure to do next time. But overall, the palace is a must-see for it's grandeur. Princess Katherine's wedding dress was on display in the ballroom. Snore.
(Photo by TravelMarx)
4. The Brits are hilarious. I simply loved their dry sense of humor which hits you like a ton of bricks the minute you step off the plane. But they're equally friendly, approachable and quite helpful. Real genuine human beings. The city feels good and has a great vibe. But those beautiful and inviting red telephone booths? They smell like piss. I guess you can't have it all.
5. Never Mind the Gap, learn to speak English! If you think that going to an English speaking European country will be easy, think again. I couldn't understand a word anyone said. Trying to fit in with the Brit's dry sense of humor, I asked the guide at Buckingham Palace if he had an audio guide in American. He didn't laugh. I wonder if you need the British accent to make it funny?
6. Not only is Tate Modern Museum free, but it has very comfortable leather chairs for napping. As you can guess, yours truly fell asleep on them right around tea time. And not just for a few minutes to rest my tired dogs but for over an hour in a deep slumber. Later, TravelMarx said he passed my chair several times searching for me. He never saw me, but noticed a blond chick with a pony tail glaring at the sleeping
bum person next to her. I was probably drooling.
7. Parliament rocks. I had no idea. The awe-inspiring building strikes you from the plane's window and in-person imposes it's power and beauty from every angle. To say it's beautiful is an understatement. It scares me a little.
(Photo by TravelMarx)
8. An unplanned visit to Kensington Palace was surprisingly the best part of my visit. The palace offers "The Enchanted Palace" exhibit which weaves in fashion and performance of the palace's 7 princesses who lived there. Their lives have been re-imagined in exotic and fascinating installations. The curators act as characters who draw you in with in with spellbound stories of the drama and emotion that ran through the palace. After this, Buckingham Palace seemed oh-ho-hum. (Apologies HRM.)
Above is Princess Charlott's exhibit, the Room of Flight. She fled an undesirable arranged marriage to a 300 lb obnoxious dude who passed himself off in a much different light before meeting her. Later, she married for love and died bearing a longed-for child. London ran out of black cloth as the nation morned. After which there was a race between two princes to marry and produce an heir to the throne. That heir turned out to be one of England's most powerful leader Queen Victoria. Fate is funny like that.
9. Big Ben really is a big deal. Now I get it. Part of the Parliament building, the tower mesmerizes you from every angle. I couldn't stop shooting it.
9.5 It's such a big deal, I'm awarding it 2 photos.
10. Expect rain, carry an umbrella. For every Londoner or tourist who takes the risk and doesn't carry an umbrella, it increases the chance of rain.
"Princess, does this hat make my butt look big?"
"Way to fit in casually, Big Boy."
11. No mater where I go, I can't escape the cracker and the criminal.