While we’d already seen the house of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, we’d yet to see the house of the Royal Family themselves – Buckingham Palace. Day 2 of our London adventure was going to rectify that.
We left Parliament and headed down the longest road in the world to the direction of Everything Royal. It was coming up on 11am, which was also when the next changing of the guard was going to take place, so we hurried with teeming crowds of other eager tourists to get there before Big Ben‘s hourly gong.
Considering how touristy London is, I was almost half surprised there wasn’t a giant sign that read “GO HERE FOR CHANGING OF THE GUARD” – so we made our own way to the spot.
Seeing guards lined up on horses in the distance surrounded by a three foot perimeter of camera-wielding tourists made us speed up. It was 10:58. We found a gap in the wall of people and elbowed our way to the front (or rather politely sorry-ed ourselves forward, as this is Britain and crowding, like queuing, is a sanctimonious event).
Eleven o’clock struck. We poised our cameras, ready for action.
But they didn’t move.
Perhaps they were waiting on something else? Maybe it was only at 11:30? Noon?
Eventually we saw some mounted police behind us and we went to go ask if this indeed was the changing of the guard. Their answer was something to the effect of “nope”.
Half amused, half exasperated, we laughed at our mistake of having spent a good twenty minutes staring at deadpan guards for nothing. So we headed out and angled ourselves instead towards the main affair: Buckingham Palace.
On the way, we passed Trafalgar Square and saw Nelson’s Column.
We went right into Trafalgar Square and posed for more tourist shots.
The National Gallery was right across the way, and though I sorely longed to go inside, this was less a trip of interior examination and more of a checklist (in a good way – no other method of seeing this much of London in a single weekend would have worked!).
But for now we had to press on.
When we arrived at Buckingham Palace, every street and corner was lined with tourists thicker than the padding on a push-up bra. Clearly they knew something we didn’t. Something was about to happen here, unlike at the faux-changing-of-the-guard.
A few minutes after we filled a gap in the onlookers, a real live royal marching band went by.
Once they’d gone by, the roads opened up again and we maneuvered our way to the palace gates.
We didn’t actually go in the palace, but that was fine by me. I feel like London is far too big to do in one shot, so we experienced the city like a series of bite-sized tasters rather than making a meal out of every stop. It ended up being just perfect this way.
And yet again, might I mention that the number of tourists swarming here felt like several colonies of ants descending upon a juicy morsel from a leftover picnic.
So that’s part of the reason I was okay not going into the palace itself. Crowds like this tend to make me anxious, and I was happy to keep moving.
Next stop was the modern-day palace of 10 Downing street.
My disgust with David Cameron meant I didn’t actually take a picture of the street sign, so I commandeered Ricky’s after the fact.
For security reasons, you obviously can’t go right up to the door to get that iconic shot of the polished #10. The whole area is fenced off with intimidating black gating and surly looking coppers.
There was a really lovely cenotaph for WWI just around the corner though, which is where the Prime Minister and many other of the cabinet members lay their wreaths for Remembrance Day.
And thus we spent our morning of Day 2. By now we were getting really peckish, having already walked something like 13, 000 steps, so we headed to downtown London to meet up with Tony’s nephew for lunch.
But let’s save that for another post!
Until next time.
For the complete London adventures, check out the links below!