Last in London

Our last day in London was a big one! After our typically lushy breakfast from Jane, we headed into Victoria for a bus to Trafalgar Square. That wasn’t to be, however, in light of the Bike London festivities going on. It wasn’t a race but it was an open ride through the streets for anyone with a bicycle. That was awesome for them – slow going for the buses. We got off our double decker on Memorial Bridge and made our way down the south bank to Westminster (by way of a loo for a wee) to grab the tube for Trafalgar and the National Gallery.

One of Michelangelo’s sketches.
Raphael’s Pope Julius II
National Gallery Rotunda
National Gallery
Rembrandt’s Belshazzar’s Feast
Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus
Constable’s The Hay Wain
Delaroche’s The Execution of Lady Jane Grey
Gorgeous flowers in the entry way at the National Gallery

I’m not sure what I was expecting to find there, but we were amazed at the collection! The museum is a walk through the different movements of art through history; all of the greats are showcased there in some manner. I enjoyed the Renaissance; Shane enjoyed seeing the artistic progression through time.

Next was the Cafe in the Crypt. I’ve heard about it for years but never went in. It’s literally the crypt beneath St Martins in the Field on Trafalgar Square and they’ve converted it into a restaurant. We had a tasty (and overpriced) lunch among ancient tombs and then carried on to the National Portrait Gallery. It is what is sounds like – but that doesn’t take away from how great a museum it is. We cruised pretty fast through this one – I didn’t want to overload the art newbie with too much – and still were able to appreciate the beauty of the portraits – and the history contained within. Henry VIII to Elizabeth II – all under one roof. A perfect English history lesson. I particularly enjoyed the irony of a painting of George III being housed in the same room as George Washington.

We kept on our journey to The City to see St. Paul’s – and see it we did. What a majestic church! If I imagined myself as Princess Kate at Westminster, I was definitely her mother-in-law here. Wow! The sight of such a cathedral was breath taking and moving. We lit candles for Mom and Aunt Jackie as we do, and another for us – that quiet moment may have been my favorite of the trip so far. We were both so moved by the memorial behind the altar dedicated to the American servicemen who have aided the British military. It was an emotional surprise for us. The beauty of the cathedral is almost indescribable – the architecture is spot on and is a fabulous reminder of and tribute to the majesty of God.

John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church. He was just hanging out in the church yard.
Side of St. Paul’s
St. Paul’s Cathedral
They’d just been married in St. Paul’s – wow! (in one of the chapels to the side, I’m sure.)
“On the steps of St. Paul’s…a lonely old bird woman comes…”
Gorgeous St. Paul’s.

Back out on the streets of The City, we set out for the Museum of London, one of my favorites. It’s so well done and such an interesting take on an interesting city. There’s a ton of information, but what we both took away from it was the narrative of the great fire of 1666. We’d been hearing about it for days, but it’s the Museum of London that really have us a picture of what it did to the city. The Victorian Walk through a simulated city was pretty great too.

Firefighter Shane, circa 1666 at the Museum of London

After that whirlwind, we took a few tube lines to Covent Garden. We walked through the crowds and the street performers, taking it all in, and looking for a place for dinner. We walked to the Leicester Square area and found a great little pub, The Salisbury. Their thing is cider so I had one of course and Shane had his traditional(!!!) Guinness. (For someone whose favorite was Coors Light until a week ago, this is major news!) My fish and chips weren’t great but Shane’s bangers and mash were delish – lushy!

Dinner at The Salisbury in Leicester Square

After dinner we walked through Theatreland to Piccadilly Circus – so much energy there on a Saturday night! Wow! It’s so much like Times Square – so many people, so may stores, so many lights! While we were there, we saw a Hen Party – definitely a tradition that we Americans need to adopt! The girls were all dressed similarly and having a blast – way more fun than most American bachelorette parties I’d bet!

PIccadilly Circus/Theatreland traffic
PIccadilly Circus/Theatreland traffic
Piccadilly Circus insanity!
Piccadilly Circus insanity!
The iconic Piccadilly Circus billboards up close
The iconic Piccadilly Circus billboards up close
Craziness at Piccadilly Circus
Craziness at Piccadilly Circus
Such a variety of shows to see in Theatreland!
Our chariot awaits!

We found our way to the bus and said farewell to London. Being out in the excitement of all of those people was a blast and a perfect (albeit sad) goodbye.

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