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July 15, 2015 / Jim Fenton

Europe Day 8: London Day 2

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Our second day in London started a little late as we lingered in the breakfast room while making onward train, hotel, and rental car reservations for France. We made our way back to Parliament Square and back to Westminster Abbey. I decided that it wasn’t worth the £20 fee for me to visit again, so Kenna and Celeste went in while I explored outside and worked on the blog using my phone.

Next we walked over to the Cabinet War Rooms, the underground command post from which Churchill and his staff directed the British forces in World War II. The rooms are well preserved and the audio guides that were provided described things thoroughly. There is also a museum describing Winston Churchill’s life before, during, and after the War.

After a late lunch at a disappointing American-style restaurant, we went over to the British Museum. We of course started with a visit to the Rosetta Stone, then ventured upstairs to explore one of Celeste’s interests, medieval Europe. Kenna pointed out an exhibit about clocks which interested me, but then, all of a sudden, they started closing doors and ushering everyone out. It took us a couple of minutes to reunite with Celeste, who was in a different gallery at the time the doors closed. It turns out that we had misunderstood the signs and the galleries closed at 5:30 instead of 6 pm.

From there we decided to walk toward Oxford Circus and thence to Piccadilly Circus along Regent Street. Along the way we found a very good bookstore, which was one of our priorities. For dinner, Yelp directed us toward an interesting-looking restaurant in Soho, which turned out to be full, and many nearby restaurants had people spilling onto the streets (as well as there being virtually no kids or teenagers in sight). We wandered around Piccadilly Circus in search of a restaurant that wasn’t too expensive or repetitive, bypassing TGI Fridays and Planet Hollywood because of our experience at lunch. We finally settled on a Pizza Express, local pizza chain that had good thin-crust pizzas.

Buckingham Palace at twilight

Buckingham Palace at twilight

We still hadn’t been near Buckingham Palace, so we decided to walk down to St. James’s Park and discovered a performance going on in the Horse Guards Parade ground. I asked what was going on, and one of the police officers said it was preparation for the Queen’s Birthday celebration this Saturday, and suggested a place to get a better look. We didn’t get very close, but it was fun to see the smartly-uniformed guards marching and playing music. As we left, there were several loud cannon blasts; we were glad we knew what it was so we wouldn’t be wondering about explosions somewhere. We continued to Buckingham Palace, which we viewed in the twilight, and on to Victoria Station for the short tube ride back to the hotel.

This article is part of a series about our recent vacation in Europe. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

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