Most of the star attractions for tourists in London are all reachable by foot covering a fairly short distance. This walk covers great sights including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye to name just a few. If you just walked this without stopping you could probably do it in about two hours, but as there is so much but because there is so much to see it took us the better part of an entire day.
We started our day at Green Park just across the street from our hotel. Green Park is one of the Royal Parks of London. For centuries the park has been used by royalty, aristocrats and saints. The Park was first recorded in 1554 when Sir Thomas Wyatt led a rebellion in protest against the marriage of Mary I to Philip II of Spain. The area was meadowland used for hunting and the occasional duel. In the park there are various monuments including the Canada Gate, Canadian WWII Memorial, Australian WWII Memorial and the Dominion Gates.
St. James Park
From Green Park we walk slowly through St. James Park towards Buckingham Palace. The park was just coming alive with spring on fast approach. Early spring flowers and vibrant blades of grass sparkled in the dew. There were beautiful swans in the lake and birds were chirping all around. It was such a beautiful and peaceful walk.
We then found ourselves standing outside Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s Guard at buckingham stand watch wearing their famous tall, black, bearskin hats. The flag was flying over Buckingham which is a signal to everyone that the Queen is at home. There were mobs of people gathering for the changing of the guards ceremony set to take place at 11AM. We then made our way towards the most iconic symbol of London, Big Ben.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament
Big Ben is part of the Palace of Westminster originally started in 1020. The palace was burnt down in 1834, so the Gothic architecture of today see is comparatively recent. The palace houses both of the the UK’s ruling bodies, the Houses of Parliament and the House of Lords. When parliament is sitting after dark, a light shines from the top of Big Ben’s tower.
Like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey was at the top of the list of “must-see’s” for our visit. The building was erected by Edward the Confessor in 1065, when he set his throne in the neighboring Westminster Palace. Westminster Abbey has become the setting for coronations, burials, funerals and marriages. Westminster Abbey is England’s main religious building. Many kings and famous people are buried there.
Next on our journey we walk over the Westminster Bridge to wait in line (or queue) for our trip on the London Eye. Built as part of the year 2000 millennium celebrations, it is now one the most popular attractions of all. Essentially the proposition is a very simple one. Ride a giant big wheel 443 feet high taking 30 minutes to travel one revolution. Eric and I really enjoyed seeing London from the top of the Eye. We could see forever and the skies were surprisingly clear the day we toured.