We woke this morning and, unlike other mornings, did not jump right out of bed but instead luxuriated in our wonderful room just a bit before getting ready for breakfast.
I was a little dismayed when I looked out the window and saw heavy rain laden clouds hovering over the city. I stood at the window and found myself quietly humming an old George Gershwin song, “A Foggy Day (in London Town)”.
We dressed warmly and, yes, we brought our umbrella in the hopes that we would have a few opportunities to step off the bus. Rob drove us to a point in London where we picked up our local guide and then proceeded with the tour.
I had been to London many years ago and had visited many of the places we would see today. Back then, I visited London, the Midlands, Stratford on Avon and Bath. And, even today, if I close my eyes I can still remember the many wonderful things I saw way back then.
But, this was the first time for Randy and I was hoping there would be a break in the rain so he could see all the wonderful sites in and around London that I had seen all those years ago.
Some of my favorite buildings to see in London are the beautiful pubs that are all over the city. I had to laugh at one point as I checked each picture to see how they turned out and, in some cases, all I could see was colors and raindrops. All of a sudden the movie The Wizard of Oz popped into my head. As I was looking at all the buildings through the raindrops I could hear her saying, “I’m melting, I’m melting”. Not sure why but I thought this was a very funny thought.
We were passing St. Paul’s Cathedral just as the rain stopped for a bit. Our guide offered to take us to a spot to get really good pictures of the cathedral if we were willing to walk in the rain. Some went, some did not. Randy and I decided to go and were glad we did. The rain stopped just long enough for us to get a few pictures of the cathedral and grounds. The cathedral is beautiful.
On the corner of the street we spotted one of the iconic red London telephone booths. I could not resist and had to stop for a photo opportunity. Actually, the entire group followed suit.
As the bus weaved its way around the busy, rainy streets, we saw many of the city’s iconic double-decker buses. I rode a double-decker on my last visit, of course, on the top deck.
As we were crossing the London Bridge we looked across the water and saw the beautiful Tower Bridge completely shrouded in fog. I thought the sight was quite cool and a perfect, although perhaps a little stereotypical metaphor of London’s representation as a rainy city. From what I understand, constant rain is not at all typical but rather the unpredictability of sudden showers.
We drove over the Tower Bridge and passed along the Tower of London. There were so many visitors lined along the walls, all carrying umbrellas, looking down to the sea of red ceramic poppies that had been planted to represent the 888,246 each British and Colonial soldier lost in battle during WWI.
Even from the bus you could feel the emotion these beautiful poppies created in each and every visitor as they cast their eyes downward and perhaps remember a loved one in this and other wars through the years.
Driving along the waterfront we could see an attraction that was not here when I previously visited, the London Eye. All I could think when I saw it was WOW!
We passed The Monument designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built to commemorate the Great Fire of London.
As we passed by the monument, our guide explained that this beautiful column stands 202 feet high and 202 feet from the spot on Pudding Lane where the great fire is believed to have started. Even with a quick glance the monument was impressive.
Next, we were off to see Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. It was drizzling a little but we all got off the bus and enjoyed the views of these beautiful buildings up close and managed to get a few nice pictures.
We drove by many, many beautiful buildings, statues and other interesting sites. it was hard to remember them all by the end of the tour. But I will tell you, the tour was wonderful and, like so many tours of this kind, it leaves you wanting more.
It was time to drop off our wonderful guide and make our way back to the hotel. It had been a lovely, if wet, morning but we were all looking forward to getting back to the hotel and change into dry clothes.
We spent some time in the lobby bar sharing experiences with other members of the group. Sharing is always a good time because not everyone goes on the same tour so there is a lot to talk about. I love the excitement in people’s voices when they talk about all the wonderful things they saw and cannot wait until they return home to share with their family and friends.
When we had a few moments alone, I asked Randy, what he thought of the day.
“I enjoyed seeing all the sites even though we had to dash between the raindrops. I really enjoying seeing the Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye,” Randy said with enthusiasm.
“I thought the red poppy field at the Tower of London was incredible. It is amazing to me that they would plant one poppy for every British soldier who died in WWI; just incredible,” Randy repeated.
“The London Eye was incredible! It is so big,” he continued.
“I loved seeing the horse guards sitting patiently as tourist got as close as they could to the horses to take pictures. It was interesting to me how still the soldier and the horse remained with all the tourist coming and going,” Randy said.
Listening to Randy, I was happy to hear that he had a great time and that he would be bringing good memories home to share with our friends.
Tomorrow is a leisure day in London. What to do, what to do? I am sure but, we will think of something.