Monday, August 20, 2012

Gardens, palaces and shopping

This morning, we took the Underground to Queensway station to visit Kensington Gardens.  At first I was disappointed - I wanted to see Princess Diana playground and we weren't allowed in because we didn't have a child under age 12 with us.  We had seen some pretty whiny kids, so maybe we could have borrowed one...

But as we kept walking through the park, we came to the sunken garden, which was beautiful.

Flowers in front of Kensington Palace

Later, we came to the Peter Pan statue and the Italian Garden.  Our guidebook said that Barrie (who wrote Peter Pan) lived about 500 yards from this statue.  And that Peter Pan lived on an island nearby in the park.
The Italian Gardens were a gift to Queen Victoria.
Italian Gardens in Kensington Park
We also wanted to see Speaker's Corner.  It was raining a little, but there were at least 3 guys up on boxes declaiming.  I wonder if there are ever female speakers? They were mostly religious in nature, although one started speaking about how you could go online and find out how to  make your own drones.  We weren't sure what his point was.  There were also a number of small groups standing around arguing, so apparently, you can just go to Speakers Corner to argue quietly if you don't feel like standing on a box. 
The guy in the red robe was dressed as a Roman centurion and was a proponent of atheism.
Cowboy hat guy was Christian.

He spoke from one of those white balconies.
We also wanted to do some shopping today so we headed to HARRODS.  But on the way we got caught up in an international incident.  As we came out of the tube at Knightsbridge, we heard clapping and cheering and there was a big crowd of people and lots of cops.  Of course we had to go check it out.  We could hear a speaker, but couldn't really understand what he was saying.  And no one near us, at the back of the crowd, knew who it was.  Later we found out that Julian Assange (from Wikileaks) was holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy and was making a speech from a balcony there. (text of his speech here) There were still lots of news crews and Assange supporters and protesters waiting outside when we went back later.

ANYWAY, back to Harrods!  We treated it as a tourist attraction, not as a shopping experience.  We really liked the Egyptian escalator and the food halls the best, and we also visited several bathrooms.  And we had to have a snack in one of their TWENTY restaurants.  We picked the Godiva cafe.  Mom and I had pain au chocolate and jasmine tea, Jeff had ginger beer and Marjorie had this enormous thing.  Everything was delicious.

Ceiling in the Egyptian escalator

Egyptian escalator
In the fruit & veg hall, there were Rainier cherries. They cost 60 pounds for 1 kilo.  That's about 90 bucks for 2.2 pounds of cherries.  Jeff got me a free sample cherry, which I figure would cost at least a couple of bucks.  
In the meat and fish food hall

Next we walked over to Buckingham Palace.

It was a day full of walking!

Did I mention that it's been extra hot in London while we've been here?  It has been in the 80s, sunny and humid.  We really didn't pack for this - we packed all pants, no shorts.  I even packed some long sleeve shirts and 2 jackets!  There are no window screens anywhere, not sure about why.  And very few places have air conditioning, although our train into town yesterday was very cool.  The Underground in particular is quite steamy.

We walked by Wellington Arch on our way to Buckingham Palace

Marjorie waits by a tree in Hyde Park

Buckingham Palace

Marjorie on Victoria Monument

Walking down the Mall

This guy is definitely glaring at me.
We didn't see a Changing of the Guards but that was OK with us.  We did see the Palace and the famous Guards.  We walked down the Mall and saw some Olympic venues too.  That's where they had the marathon and some other races.  (Beach volleyball was nearby too.) We continued walking toward Trafalgar Square, found a delicious Italian restaurant on Haymarket, and headed home for the night!
A last view of Trafalgar Square

Church of St. Martin in the Fields on Trafalgar Square.
with pretty clouds.

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