Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day One: London

Friday, August 1, 2008

Victoria Embankment Gardens
The Millenium Wheel
Boat Ride On The Thames
The Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
The Chapel Of Saint Peter And Saint Paul, Greenwich
The Painted Hall, Greenwich
Queen’s House, Greenwich
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Saint Alfege’s Church, Greenwich
Boat Ride On The Thames
Evensong Service At Westminster Abbey
Trafalgar Square
The Church Of Saint Martin-In-The-Fields

We are scheduled to arrive at Heathrow very, very early in the morning. Once we retrieve our luggage and clear customs, we will take the subway directly to our hotel in the center of the city.

Last year, we stayed at a hotel in Kensington. This year, given that we will be in London only for two days, we will stay at a hotel near Charing Cross Station, right in the center of London.

We should arrive at our hotel no later than 9:00 a.m. We plan to drop our luggage at the hotel and immediately set out for our first day of exploration.

We will walk from the hotel toward nearby Hungerford Bridge, stopping at a café along the way to pick up a breakfast of English bacon on English rolls. My brother and I discovered this café in 2005, and we thought that it had the best English bacon we had ever tasted. We all had breakfast at this cafe one day last year, too, and Josh and my parents liked it as much as my brother and I had liked it in the past.

We will take our breakfast across the street and eat on benches in the Victoria Embankment Gardens. After eating, we will stroll the lovely gardens, looking at the flowers and showing Josh’s sister the main statues and monuments as well as the Egyptian obelisk known as Cleopatra’s Needle.

After we have had our fill of the Victoria Embankment Gardens, we will cross The Thames via Hungerford Bridge and proceed to The Millenium Wheel, also known as The London Eye.

None of us has ever taken a ride on The Millenium Wheel, and we thought that a ride on The Millenium Wheel would be the ideal first thing for Josh’s sister to do in London.

If the weather is clear, we will be able to see up to 25 miles in all directions, and the view will give Josh’s sister a wonderful overview of London.

One revolution of The Millenium Wheel takes thirty minutes. Once our Millenium Wheel ride is complete, we plan to re-cross Hungerford Bridge and proceed to the Charing Cross boat landing and take a boat ride down The Thames to Greenwich.

The boat ride will take an hour, and we will be able to see everything along the way on both banks of The Thames. It will be yet another method for Josh’s sister to see as much of London as possible in a short time.

Landing in Greenwich, we will walk around the magnificent complex of Neo-Classical and Baroque buildings bordering the south side of The Thames, and walk around the magnificent park in which these buildings are situated.

We will start with the group of buildings that comprises The Old Royal Naval College, planned and designed by Christopher Wren, with Nicholas Hawksmoor serving as Wren’s chief assistant. We will walk around the entire College, exploring the exteriors, and we will visit the interiors of the only two portions of the buildings open to the public: The Chapel Of Saint Peter And Saint Paul, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful church interiors anywhere, whose space and proportion are hallmarks of English Baroque but whose decoration is strictly Neo-Classical; and The Painted Hall, a grand room intended to be a dining hall but, once finished, too beautiful and too much of a tourist attraction to be used for its intended purpose.

We will explore the exterior of Queen’s House, the famous Neo-Classical structure designed by Inigo Jones, which now serves as one of the homes of The National Maritime Museum.

From Queen’s House, we will walk uphill and explore the exteriors of the group of buildings that used to serve as The Royal Observatory, and we will locate the brass strips set into the courtyard of The Royal Observatory that mark The Prime Meridian.

After we have completed our explorations of the historic buildings and the park, we will walk over to the town of Greenwich and find a place to have a late lunch.

After lunch, we will visit nearby Saint Alfege’s Church, a large and magnificent Neo-Classical structure designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, noted for both its front and side porticos. It is an extremely beautiful church, inside and out, the final resting place of composer Thomas Tallis, to whom several monuments in the church are dedicated.

After we complete our visit to Saint Alfege’s Church, we will take a boat ride back to London, disembarking at Parliament. We will head straight for Westminster Abbey and attend the 5:00 p.m. Evensong Service. We want Josh’s sister to see the interior of Westminster Abbey, and we thought that the best way for her to enjoy a brief visit to the Abbey was to attend Evensong Service.

After Evensong, we will show her the full exterior of the giant Abbey, and Saint Margaret’s Church, and Central Hall, and walk around Parliament Square, and Jewel Tower, and The Houses Of Parliament.

From Parliament Square, we will walk up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, and pass the Home Office, and the Foreign Office, and the Cenotaph, and Downing Street, and Inigo Jones’s Banqueting House, and Horse Guards, examining the exteriors of these fine structures as we go.

Once we reach Trafalgar Square, we will spend some time examining the square and its monuments and the surrounding structures, including Africa House, Canada House and The National Gallery. We especially want to show Josh’s sister the magnificent view from the top of Trafalgar Square down Whitehall, with the spires of Westminster Abbey and The Houses Of Parliament visible over the buildings of Whitehall. This is one of the most beautiful views in the world.

After we have completed exploring Trafalgar Square, we will cross the street and explore both the exterior and interior of The Church Of Saint-Martin-In-The-Fields, one of London’s most famous churches. Once we have fully explored the church’s exterior and interior, we will explore the large crypt, and have dinner in the crypt café, greatly enlarged since last year, according to the church’s website.

After dinner, we will walk to our nearby hotel, check in, and go straight to bed. We hope to be in bed, asleep, no later than 9:00 p.m.

It will be a very long day, given the fact that we will have had no sleep the previous night, but we want to schedule a full day of sightseeing for our first day in London so that Josh’s sister may see as much of London as possible in the allotted time.

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