Big Ben! Parliament!

We started off today (our second and final full day in London) with a trip to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. We arrived early — not early enough to get a great spot by the palace fence, but early enough to get a roadside spot on the Victoria Memorial across the square.

20120902-233012.jpgIt ended up being just perfect. We didn’t have to wait too long, and when the first set of guards came down the road, they passed right in front of us. We got to see their stern faces, their furry hats, and their excellent red coats (B’s favorite part, since that’s his favorite color). When the second set of guards came through, they marched directly towards us, and we got an excellent view of them, also.

We missed whatever happened behind the palace fence, but we stuck around to watch them march back out again, too.

The kids were incredibly patient with (and even interested in) the whole process, but when we left the palace to walk along St. James Park, B immediately spied a playground, and we gave them a chance to run and play a bit.

20120902-233052.jpgThe playground was very much like an Austrian one — with bricks, large rocks, and sharp edges. The boys had a great time playing “soldiers” (they were marching around like palace guards with some other kids who had been there), running, jumping, and being free.

After that, we had a quick lunch in the park (and an ice cream) and we walked along, enjoying a beautiful, tree-lined stroll, and ended up at Big Ben.

20120902-233212.jpgWalking in to Parliament Square was very cool. To be suddenly surrounded by so many iconic images of London — Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament — it was almost like suddenly visiting someplace mythical. My references for those places are mostly movies and tv, so it was odd and wonderful to see them in real life. It was also strange, too, because although I knew they were located close to each other, I didn’t realize HOW close. I loved seeing Big Ben, and I wish we’d had the chance to go into Westminster (whose facade looks so surprisingly like Notre Dame). It was all perfectly grand and elegant and wonderful.

But, we weren’t done yet! We trekked over to the Tower Bridge (which was also very lovely) before heading back for the day. We are worn out, but we had a great day. We all got to see and visit sights that made our stay in London just how we wanted it.

This is a strange trip, though — I can’t believe our time in London is nearly over. We usually stay longer wherever we go. But, tomorrow we’re off to the countryside, to see what that is like.

For the next time we’re in London, though, I’ve already started my list. I want to ride on the London Eye, take a bus tour, make faces at a Palace Guard and see the inside of Westminster Abbey — and that’s just the stuff I’ve thought of so far.

Tomorrow, on to the Cotswolds!

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