Tuesday, day 7 of our time in London, marked one week since we’d left home. Day 7 was also our last full day in London, and one of my very favorites. We saw some really iconic, historic places…and we went back to three different parks.
We walked across Westminster Bridge to Westminster Abbey in order to arrive right when it opened at 9:30am. Unfortunately, Danny and I had some sort of miscommunication and as soon as we got inside, we left to find some breakfast so we walked back to Cafe Nero and then back to Westminster Abbey. It made for kind of a rough start as I was frustrated, Danny was hungry, and it just started the day out on the wrong foot. We wandered around the abbey for a while before our 10:30am verger-led tour, which we found very interesting. Our verger was actually in William and Kate’s wedding back in 2011 when they got married at Westminster Abbey, in fact, he led the procession and sat up front on the stage throughout the whole ceremony. I asked him a bit about it, and he said it was simply an amazing experience.
No pictures were allowed inside of Westminster Abbey, so we only have a few from the outside of the building, once our tour was over and we were on our way to find some lunch.
We had veggie wraps at a Presbyterian church cafe across the street for lunch, and walked from there to the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. It was kind of a last-minute choice to go the Churchill War Rooms (shortened, because that is a long name to type over and over!), and I’m really glad we did. Honestly, I don’t think either one of us knew a lot about Winston Churchill going in to it – I know that my education concerning World War II focused primarily on the U.S., which makes sense considering I went to school here in the States, but it is a rather narrow view, as World War II obviously had a much more far-reaching effect on Europe and its people. That being said, I think we both learned a lot from our time at the Churchill War Rooms. We did the entire audio guide tour, which covered both the war rooms and the museum, and enjoyed it very much. The museum was interactive and well done, and the war rooms were just fascinating – the way we saw them is the way they were left the day the war ended in Britain. All in all, we were so glad we went. Plus, Danny got to try on a jumpsuit just like the ones Mr. Churchill liked to wear, which was fun.
After the war rooms, we walked to Buckingham Palace via St. James Park, where we stopped for fruit and oatmeal cookies (so good!) at Inn the Park. Our tickets indicated that we had a 3:15pm tour of Buckingham Palace, which we found out wasn’t so much a tour as a “this is the time you’re allowed to come inside.”
We toured the State Rooms and saw the Royal Childhood Exhibit, both of which I enjoyed very much. No photos were allowed, just like at Westminster Abbey, but it was okay because it allowed me to really look around and enjoy instead of trying to make sure I was capturing everything I wanted to as well. The State Rooms were grand and looked just like all the pictures I’d seen of them. And we really were lucky to be visiting at the same time as the Royal Childhood Exhibit – I had such fun seeing gifts that Prince George has received, such as a baby blanket and a rocking horse from President and Mrs. Obama, a trike from the Mayor of London, his christening gown, and his birth announcement. We also saw many of William and Harry’s toys and clothes, home videos of the Queen as a child, and so many more artifacts from the childhood of a variety of modern royals. It was really such a fun, well done exhibit, and Buckingham Palace really wowed me.
After our time indoors, we enjoyed some fancy (and pricy!) scones with strawberries and cream at the cafe outside the palace, checked out the gift store, and walked through the grounds, which were beautiful, but noticeably not as maintained as some of the parks that are open to the public that we visited, which I found interesting.
On our way from Buckingham Palace to Hyde Park, we stopped for veggie pasties and an apple raspberry dessert pasty to share. We ate our veggie pasties while walking to the park, and shared the dessert pasty on a bench in a corner of Hyde Park we hadn’t discovered before. We enjoyed an especially beautiful sunset as we kept walking through Hyde Park to Kensington Gardens, and then through some parts of Kensington Gardens we hadn’t seen our first time through, and once it was dark, onto the Kensington High Street tube station. We took the underground to Westminster and walked along the Thames and across the bridge back to our room. Usually, the London Eye was lit up in blue lights, but that night, it was red.
As I mentioned before, I really enjoyed day 7. Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace were two things I had really been looking forward to, and they didn’t disappoint. And the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms was a fun, unexpected gem that we both liked very much. And, of course, you know me and my love affair with London’s parks. Getting to go to St. James Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens all in one day? Well, it was a really good day.