With sad faces, we left Malaga, Spain for London, England on December 19. We had used up 88 of our allowed 90 out of 180 days on our visas. Here is a link to details on US travel to Schengen countries. We are discussing plans for a return trip to Spain so we may see more of this lovely country. We enjoyed our 3 weeks there and in many ways found Spain to be a delightful surprise.
Big Ben to Trafalgar Square
After settling into our Airbnb and the Fulham neighborhood in the West End of London just off the River Thames, our first trip to the main core of London was a combination of above ground trains and the tube (below ground trains). It took about 45 minutes altogether and was very efficient. When we walked up and out of the final tube station, we were across from the iconic Elizabeth Tower, or more popularly known as Big Ben. While most may be familiar with what the clock tower looks like, the name Big Ben refers to the bell and we were there when it was ringing in the hour. The clock faces are simply stunning, and the tower is more massive than we had expected. Big Ben is situated at the north end of the Palace of Westminster where the 1000 room Houses of Parliament are located. From here we walked up the main street of White Hall, noting various sites along the way including the horse guards and the blocked and heavily guarded #10 Downing Street. We walked around Trafalgar Square and into the theatre district where we stopped into one of the many pubs which seem to be on nearly every corner of London.
Many museums in London are free with an optional £5 donation and this is one of them. We entered the Great Court, the beautiful, glass domed, longer than a football field and 140 ft. wide, hub of the museum. It was a crowded day during the Christmas holidays, but we managed the wandering crowds. We focused on the Egyptian and Assyrian (Iraq) galleries because we were here to see mummies! Since the British flag flew over one quarter of the world at one time, this museum has fantastic artifacts, and is fascinating. The importance of artifacts such as those in the Assyrian gallery seemed even more precious considering the recent destruction of many ancient sites in the Middle East by terrorists.
Tower of London
Walking along South Bank on the Thames toward the newly painted and restored 1894 Tower Bridge (often called London Bridge), we were struck by the immensity of the structure. We walked over the bridge to the Tower of London, originally built over 900 years ago by William the Conqueror. The Tower has been a wartime castle, royal residence, prison, and execution site. As it was off season, we could walk up, buy tickets, and join the informative Beefeater Yeoman Warder tour that was underway. Tickets here are pricey – such is the price one pays to see the, crown jewels, Chapel of St. Peter, the scaffold site of King Henry VIII’s beheaded wives, and walk the paths and climb the towers of English history.
Thanks for joining us on our journey.