My wife and I went on a vacation to London and Paris. My first trip to Europe was on business, so I was looking forward to making this trip and having more free time to enjoy the sights.
Pictures enlarge if you click on them. Big Ben
April 10, 2008 was the 150th anniversary of the creation of Big Ben. The 15-ton Big Ben was cast on April 10, 1858, at the foundry in east London, although it was another year before it first rang out from Parliament's clock tower. It was made by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which also made Philadelphia's Liberty Bell and the Bell of Hope, given to New York by Londoners on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Big Ben has given its name to one of London's most famous landmarks, the Parliament's 19th-century neo-Gothic clock tower, designed by Charles Barry. The tower is popularly known as Big Ben, although the name actually refers only to the Great Bell inside. The bell cracked soon after it was installed and officials fitted a smaller hammer and turned the bell so the hammer wouldn't strike the crack. The bell, remains in use, and during World War II, Big Ben's bongs became a sign of resistance to Nazi bombs.
Catherine waiting at the Vancouver airport
Due to the delayed flight, we arrived in London
’s Heathrow airport late in the day on Sunday.
We were quickly processed through customs and caught a traditional red double-decker bus into downtown London
There is a London Underground station at the airport, but I highly recommend the bus because you can see the city as you are driving through it.
The bus dropped us off right at Hyde Park
near the Marble Arch.
The Marriott hotel we were staying at was a couple of blocks away, but just having one rolling bag each we were able to easily walk the remaining way to the hotel.
We left from the San Francisco airport early on a Saturday morning and flew Air Canada to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Always expecting a least one glitch on a trip we started our trip with one right at the beginning. When we arrived in Vancouver we were told that the aviation fuel was contaminated and the airport was having new fuel delivered by truck. In the meantime there would be a delay in the flight. We sat with some British tourists that had been on vacation in Canada. They asked where we were going and when I told them London and Paris, they said Paris was alright, but that London was just a big city. It always seems funny to me that people seem to always take the places they live for granted. In a future posting I will write about San Francisco, the place my wife and I work. Well, anyway, the fuel did finally arrive and we were late, but on our way.
My wife and I each had one small rolling, carry-on bag and didn’t check baggage. I highly recommend packing light, especially if you aren’t driving and have to lug your baggage everywhere. At the time it was also easy to carry the baggage on the plane and bypass having to wait to collect your luggage at the end of the trip.
London red double decker bus
Our original plan had been to arrive early enough to do some sight seeing on Sunday. However being very tired and jet-lagged we elected to have dinner at the hotel restaurant, Mediterrano that served Italian influenced meals and came with great salads. The hotel itself was a standard business hotel without much character, but I had accumulated enough frequent guest points staying at other Marriott hotels while I was traveling on business, that I was able to have the room at no charge for the week.
As I said we were so exhausted, that by 7:00 pm we were sound asleep.
There is nothing like being on vacation when you travel instead of business when you have to be someplace whether you feel like it or not.
In any case, we were asleep early and awoke at dawn greatly refreshed and raring to go.
First thing on our agenda was breakfast that was included with our room.
So we were off for one of those great English breakfasts and we were not disappointed. All you wanted of pancakes, waffles, eggs, pastries, bacon, sausage, juice, coffee and of course tea.
Our plan for the day was to start by getting the layout of the city. We started out by taking a “Big Bus” tour. This is a bus tour where you can hop-on and hop-off at each of the major sights while they give you a narration. The ticket for the tour is good for 24 hours, so even after you have heard all the narration you want it is still a convenient way to get from sight to sight.
One of the stops on our bus tour was Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square is a square in central London that commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars. The square is dedicated to the heroics of Admiral Horatio Viscount Nelson (1758-1805,) who's likeness is depicted by an 18 foot-tall statue atop the 172 foot column in the center of the square. The British national hero, Admiral Nelson, was killed as he defeated the French and Spanish at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The statue was designed by E. H. Bailey and the column by William Railton in the 1830's. The relief sculptures on each aspect of the column's base done by Ternouth, Woodington, Watson and Carew. Additionally, there are four large bronze lions, created by Edward Landseer, guarding the base of the column.
The lions at the foot of the monument actually have dog paws instead of lion (feline) paws as the creator, Sir Edwin Landseer, had never seen a lion.
Catherine in front of the Landseer Lion
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Labels: Big Ben, Double Decker Bus, England, Landseer Lion, London, Photographs, Photos, Pictures, Trafalgar Square, Travel