So much London, so little time


Great Britain
Day 21 - Wednesday, 28 May 1997

If we previously thought there was not enough time to take it all in, it became doubly true here. London offers something for everyone. We didn't even try to see any of the theater plays that many people think are an absolute must, and we didn't go to the museums or art palaces, or shopping. We did the kind of things that Jim and Geri think are the most interesting. We saw the Marble Arch, Green Park, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the White Tower, the Tower Bridge, Big Ben, the river Thames and Greenwich.

The Marble Arch, a gift to the royalty of England, was meant to be a gate to the palace, but it turned out to be too narrow for the royal coach to pass through, so it stands as a decorative monument outside of Hyde Park near Speakers Corner. We got off the bus here. Jim was videoing some park pigeons so I walked up to them, hoping to stir them into flight for the camera. The bold little creatures just casually strolled out of my way, and I never did get them to take flight. You will be able to see for yourself when the video of our trip is released.

We walked through Green Park, so named because it has no flowers. The story is that a gallant young man picked a flower and gave it to one of the ladies-in-waiting. The queen was so miffed that she commanded all flowers to be removed from the park forever.

There is an enormous gate leading from Green Park to Buckingham Palace made of iron, and highly decorated with gold. (See yesterday's page for a picture.) We hung around in front of the palace for about two hours trying to see the changing of the guard. There were too many people, the activity came in spurts, and we were not in quite the best place to get a view of what was happening inside. But we did get some charming video of a band, and some soldiers on horseback. Jim says they look like the KKK, because they are wearing peaked white hats. Interestingly, they are being led by a black soldier riding a white horse, and a white soldier riding a brown horse! All the other horses are black. Our guidebook did say the changing of the guard was over-rated. He was right.

Big Ben

In front of the palace is an incredible monument to Queen Victoria with carved statues on all sides, lots of gold overlay here also. There's a really nice statue of a woman nursing her baby with other children clustered around her skirts.

In Picadilly Circus (just a traffic circle surrounded by buildings) is the famous statue of Eros, the winged archer with his bow and arrow. (Looks like Cupid.) One of the London newspapers has had the image on the front of their paper for many years. Sometime recently it was discovered that their drawing had him standing on the wrong foot. They quickly corrected it, and now they want to copyright the use of the image.

The streets are virtually lined with statues and fountains too numerous to mention. It seems that Great Britain has had lots of artists and plenty of marble, and enough royalty to buy it all to show off.

Big Ben

Big Ben is on one end of the Houses of Parliament, and Victoria Tower is on the other end. The River Thames runs behind it. Beyond Victoria Tower (the largest and tallest square tower in the world) is a beautiful park. In the midst of this park is a colorful monument to the people who fought to end slavery.

Westminster Abbey

Around the corner is Westminster Abbey. The Abbey is where coronations take place, and have since at least 1066. We peeked inside, but didn't take time to tour it. We did go far enough inside to see the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We never quite made it to Westminster Cathedral. Outside Westminster Abbey is the following sign carved into the marble:

May God grant to the living - grace
to the departed - rest
to the church and the world - peace and concord
and to us sinners - eternal life.