Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Day 63--On a London Mission

Now that I had a sense of London, I went about my second day with a much more organized plan. I even wrote it out! 

I started out by riding in to the city again on Route 23. As I was getting ready to go this morning, a family asked me how it was to cycle into London. I told them to take 23, and they would have no problems. Not only is it well signed, but it's even marked on the road.

Because I was a little earlier today, there were definately more cyclists. I have to be careful, because I tend to zone-out, and start following the cyclist in front of me instead of watching for the route signs. I almost missed a turn! 

This time, once I got to CS7, I continued off 23 on my own route to get me to Hungerford Bridge. It's really a pedestrian bridge alongside the train bridge over the Thames. There are actually two bridges on each side of the train bridge. They are also called the Golden Jubilee Bridges.
To the left is the train bridge, and on the other side is the other pedestrian bridge.

I had to carry Betsy up a few stairs to get to the bridge, then I walked her across. The bridges came to Charing Cross--a train station, and tube station. My purpose for going that way was because Charing Cross is just a short distance from Trafalger Square. 
Trafalger Square

I wandered around the Square taking photos. 
The National Gallery and one of the four lions at the base of Nelson's Column.
Nelson's Column
The biggest cobalt blue rooster I've ever seen (to give you an idea of the size, see the pigeon?)
One of the "Performance Artists". He appears to be sitting in mid-air. 

I decided, since The National Gallery was free, I would go in. First I found a bike rack to lock Betsy. Then I found the toilets. Then, because it was a good time for a mid-morning snack, I went across the street to a cafe.
My maple almond pastry.

After all that, I went into the Gallery. Although it is free, they ask for a 4£ donation. I didn't have to pay it, but I thought that was reasonable. 
This is the only photo from inside as photography is not allowed in the gallery rooms. 

The National Gallery is not overwhelmingly huge, so I felt I got a good look at the paintings that interest me (mostly the Impressionists). Because I couldn't take photos, I bought 5 postcards of 5 paintings I saw. I exited out the Sainsbury Wing because I had parked Betsy just outside those doors (I felt pretty smart noticing that!). 

Next up on my itinerary for today was Piccadilly Circus. This is the Theater District. I saw "Wicked" was playing. 
The big screen (like in Times Square).
The Criterion Theater

From Piccadilly, I followed Regents Street, walking, as I was going the wrong direction on the one-way street, to the Duke of York Column. Here I had to carry Betsy down some stairs. I got onto Horse Guards Road and rode by the Horse Guards Building and Parade (the buildings also house the Old Admiralty Offices, the Household Cavalry Museum, and the Scotland Office).

Right next to these buildings is #10 Downing Street. Of course, you can't actually go on the street itself, but I could get a photo through the fence.
#10 Downing Street (Maggie's old house)

I rode along the south side of St. James Park on Birdcage Walk (I love the names of the streets here) toward Buckingham Palace. When I got to the palace, I noticed people were all lined up along the road. First I thought it was a line to maybe go in the palace, but then I noticed it was on both sides of the road.
Then I thought, I wonder what they are waiting for? I guess I'll wait too. Pretty soon, I heard drums and music. It was just after noon, and time for the parade of the guards (don't know if that's what it's called, but I'm calling it that).
It was interesting, because there were two groups. One went this way, and another went the other way around the traffic circle. As soon as they had passed, the traffic continued through the circle as if nothing had happened. Good timing on my part to get there just in time to see the parade!

Here's a shot of Buckingham Palace
There are several gates each named after a country belonging to England. This is the Canada Gate.

From the Palace, I rode along the "Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Walk" between Green Park and the Palace Gardens on my way to Hyde Park. 
The Wellington Monument
One of the Gates into Hyde Park (the Apsley Gate)

I rode along Rotten Row (such a name!) to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain.
It was packed with kids playing in the water.
I can't help but think she would have liked it that way.

As it was nearing 1:00, and I saw there was a cafe near the fountain (The Lido), I decided to have some lunch. It was a nice place on the lake (Serpentine Lake). 

There were lots of people in pedal boats on the lake. There was a small swimming place, but most of the lake is for boating (non-motorized).

I just looked at the map, and realized I could have continued on into Kensington Gardens, and to Kensington Palace (maybe next time). Instead, I rode across the Serpentine Bridge and through the park along the other side of the lake. 

At the end, there was this gate.
I think it was the Queen Elizabeth Gate.

I worked my way back toward Westminster. Along the way at the Stable Yard Gate, there were these two lads guarding the gate.

One would think they would be quite warm, and that chin strap would get very annoying. Also, that's a mighty sharp looking knife on that rifle. I think, however impractical the uniform looks, they mean business!

As I got closer to Westminter Bridge! I got a photo of the front of Westminster Abbey (only the back yesterday).

From there I went across the Westminster Bridge, and worked my way back to Crystal Palace. This time I followed 23 the whole way back. 

I had a much better sense of where I was today. I find I do pretty well riding in the city. I can tune out all the cacophony of noises and just pay attention to the traffic and the signs. I think riding in London would freak some people out, but I actually enjoyed it.

Tomorrow I already know how to get to Route 4, so I should have no problems getting out of the city. Also, I have determined I am still ahead by a couple of days. This allows me to take three days to get to Harwich. And, I can go to Amsterdam! I won't take a day off there, but it's not too many miles from Hook van Holland to Amsterdam, so I will have some time to look around. Woo Hoo!

Parting shots for today...
First, smiling, but then I thought I should play the part.
I should have pulled my chin strap over my chin!

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