The last day of our wonderful cruise had finally come. I always have mixed emotions at the end of a cruise.
Sad when I stop to think about the morning coffees, cocktail hours and dinners with friends and fellow travelers are over; happy because I realize that I will be back sleeping in my own bed soon. And, I will miss waking up each morning and visiting a wonderful new city.
Our travel agent made arrangements for our group to take a bus to Heathrow airport and along the way take a nice tour through London. The day started with the skies looking a bit iffy but, in the end the rain held affording us a wonderful day.
We were up early, had a quick breakfast at the Windjammer and then on to the theater to wait for our number to be called, pick up our luggage, go through customs and head for our bus. Luckily, it all went very well.
To our pleasant surprise, Ian, our tour guide to the medieval village of Lavenham on the first leg of our cruise was going to be our guide today. I find Ian to be engaging and very funny. I knew it was going to be a fun ride.
Once everyone was on board the bus started the journey to London. As we rode along, we passed farms carpeted with rapeseed flowers. The yellow fields were quite beautiful.
We arrived at the East End of London and were greeted with two very unusual sights. We were surprised to see cable cars high above and inquired about them. Ian explained that the cable cars were called ‘The Emirates Airline’. The cable cars located in East London takes passengers across the River Thames between the Royal Docks near Canning Town and the Greenwich Peninsula. The ride takes 10 minutes and provides quite a view.
The next odd sight was the Millennium Dome. The Dome was originally constructed to house an exhibition of the Millennium Experience celebrating the beginning of the third millennium. It never drew the visitors expected and now only the exterior exists as a curiosity.
We moved along eventually passing the Tower Bridge. I had to turn back as the bus made its way through a curve to get a shot.
Once across the bridge we had a nice look at the Tower of London. It looked very different from our visit to London last fall. Then, there were beautiful red porcelain poppies covering the grounds around the tower marking the start of WWI. One shot I managed to get shows a building in the background called The Shard.
Pedestrian and vehicle traffic was crowded as we made our way through London. We stopped for a traffic light and I just happen to look out the window and saw two iconic British red telephone boxes.
We finally made our way to Trafalgar Square. The square was teeming with visitors, walking, talking, and taking pictures and children climbing on one of the four Landseer Lions.
The square is home to so many beautiful landmarks. There are the four Landseer Lions, Nelson’s column, statues of King George IV, James Napier, and King Charles I and the Trafalgar fountain, the National Gallery and St Martin-in-the Fields parish church. One of these tours I will make it a point to stop at this beautiful square and enjoy it up close and personal.
We continued on to Parliament Square. The square features an open green area in the center with statues of many historical notables. There is a statue of President Abraham Lincoln among the notables. Around the square can be seen the houses of Parliament, executive offices of Whitehall, the Supreme Court and Westminster Abbey.
On our way to Covent Garden for a ‘convenience’ stop, we got snared in a terrible traffic jam and detour. Ian explained that there were rehearsals taking place to prepare for the Queen’s birthday parade also known as Trooping the Colour. We just barely caught a glimpse of several people practicing as we made our way around the roundabout.
Parking spaces were at a premium causing the bus to park a distance away from our stop. We were given a time to return to the bus and we were off. Covent Garden was only a few streets away. We passed many shops and restaurants along the way.
We explored a little and then looked for a sidewalk café to sit for a few moments and have a café latte and something to eat. We stopped at Tuttons. I knew our time was limited and asked the server if we could get a café latte and croissant quickly. He assured me it was possible so we sat down.
The café lattes were just the ticket and the croissant, served with butter and jam, was delicious. We hurried back to the bus stopping once in a while to take a picture of things we found interesting.
One corner that I found wonderfully interesting was on the corner of Kemble Street and Drury Lane. The greenery and flowers framing this building was just wonderful. There was even a green archway on the street. This street was just lovely, lovely, lovely.
Continuing our trip took us over the Westminster bridge and saw the London Eye observation wheel that gives visitors a 360° view of the capital and famous landmarks.
I know that London has many, many bridges and I have only seen a few. But today we passed a bridge I thought very beautiful. The bridge is the Albert Bridge. I loved the ornate look of the bridge as well as the subdued colors. I would love to see this bridge at night.
From the bridge we passed a line of lovely houseboats moored near Albert Bridge, various neighborhoods eventually making it to a major road on to the airport.
I must say, the security at Heathrow was amazing. Although we had to laugh when they pulled us over and went through our carry-on luggage. I packed for sailing and forgot that we would be flying home. I did not pack my liquids properly. Plus, the agent seemed particularly interested in my small souvenir boxes. Just as she was about to open one another agent came running over say, “It’s okay, they are eggs”. Actually, they were small Faberge eggs while visiting Russia I purchased for my girls. The agent provided me with small plastic bags for my liquids and let us goes. I thought it was all very funny.
It was a long walk to our gate. There was Wi-Fi in the terminal and everyone was on some kind of device checking in with family and friends. It is going to be an even longer flight home.
Tomorrow we will be home until the next adventure.