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Kensington Gardens - March 7, 2002
On my first day in London, I wandered around and wandered into Kensington Gardens. The wonderful weather allowed me to stay outside all day. I found the Kensington Palace. The pictures make it look even less impressive than it is in person (not very).
The highlight of my day was when I wandered over to the pond. There was a man there with a radio-controlled sailboat.
The day made me homesick for sailing, but it also excited me. And the sunlight kept me from getting too much jet-lag.
Big Ben and a monument to sailors - March 10, 2002
Near the Tower of London, I was intrigued by a monument to sailors that had died in either World War I or II (I'm not sure). Unfortunately, it faces a busy street, so it's impossible to get a good picture of the front of the monument. In the small park behind the building, the monument continued, with a decorative compass and walls with lists of the sailors' names.
Walk around London - March 25, 2002
I took a day off from working and went on a walking tour of London (from my guidebook).
First stop: The Museum of London
The museum is a great place to go as a tourist - you can learn a lot about the history of the city, and the best part is, it's free!
Next, my guidebook led me to beautiful (and tiny) Postman's Park. I believe this park is situated in a remnant of land between two churches.
The highlight of the park is a wall with rows of tiles. This is a monument from the turn of the century to "everyday heros". For example: Mary Rogers, stewardess of the Stella, commemmorated for "giving up her life belt and voluntarily going down in the sinking ship". Really powerful to think about some of these people, who are commemmorated even now, by the tiles on this wall.
I visited a few other churches and historic places; including a hospital that has this memorial to William Wallace on the outside wall. The Latin near the bottom is a saying Wallace learned in his youth:
Freedom is best, I tell thee true, of all things to be won:
then never live within the bond of slavery, my son.
There are also three words in Gaelic - "Bas agus Buaidh", which means "Death and Victory".**
St. Paul's Cathedral
Lastly, I visited St. Paul's Cathedral. I walked around the outside to get a number of pictures featuring the dome. I never got a chance to climb the dome inside, but I did go to an evening (5pm) mass; the music was heavenly, and I vowed to come back. Unfortunately, I never had the time again.
Monument to the Great Fire - March 30
This monument was built hundreds of years ago, designed by the architect of St. Paul's. In modern London, it is dwarfed by the buildings around it, but it still stands, slender and proud. It has not been retrofitted with an elevator because it is so narrow inside - so if you want to see the view, you have to climb the stairs all the way to the top!
Tower of London (first visit) - April 1
The Roman Wall
This ancient wall was built by the Romans, as part of the settlement of Londinium. Parts of it were later incorporated into the Tower, and several pieces of it still stand throughout the city.
Note: The section of wall pictured above stands outside of the present-day boundaries of the Tower, in the midst of a small commercial area.
I always imagined the Tower of London as, well, a tower. Boy, was I wrong! It's a squat, square fortress, designed originally to keep invaders out. Later it was used to house prisoners of noble blood, and it was also the site of many executions. The outer wall can no longer deter anyone, and you can walk around in the outer courtyard free of charge. The inner wall is still formidable - and within the inner wall are the actual buildings.
Within the inner wall (which is pictured above), you can see the rookery, the guards' houses, and other interior buildings.
Regents Park - April 10
So many gorgeous flowers!
Rose War Reenactment - April 13
Second visit to the Tower of London - April 15This time with Andrew, Tim, Tom, and "Manic" Matt.
London Eye - April 16
The London Eye is a gigantic Ferris wheel that sits nex to the river. From the top, you can see several miles on a clear day (which are rare). I went on the London Eye early in March, around twilight - which meant I have no good pictures from inside. It's pretty impressive from the outside, though.
Also pictured is the Millenium Bridge, a pedestrian bridge across the river built to celebrate - you guessed it - the turn of the new millenium. Unfortunately, it almost collapsed under the stresses the first day it was opened, so it had to be closed for almost two years until it had been sufficiently reinforced. It was opened again while I was in London.
** Much thanks to Boyd Dermot for the translation from Gaelic. Mr. Dermot works for the Corporation of London, and emailed the translation to me after visiting this page.