Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Last night at around 3:00 a.m. I decided that I’d like to tour Buckingham Palace. So there I was reserving a ticket for a tour the next day at 1:15 p.m.

After a light breakfast I ran a few errands and enjoyed walking around SoHo, then down Piccadilly and through Green Park before my Buckingham Palace tour. It was a beautiful day and I took my time to soak it all in. Every so often I’d find a park bench and just watch the people enjoying being in the park.

As it approached 12:45 I headed over to the entrance for the tour. Picked up my ticket and joined the others in the 1:15 tour. Very well organized and the people who were keeping us in line were really some of the nicest people I’ve come across in the various venues over the past year. Was almost like being in Disneyland where everyone is smiling and helping to make sure that the guests are having a good experience.

Before I knew it we were through security, got our headsets and on our way. I couldn’t have imagine what we would be seeing. Here we were, in one of the most iconic homes in the world, like the White House. We entered through the entrance where diplomats enter, so we got to experience what they would see, many for the first time.

It has been said the English know how to put on a show and now I’m absolutely convinced of that. Wish I could have taken pictures of the inside of the rooms we visited, but they are available online or through documentaries. But to see these rooms in person!

We saw about 15 state rooms and the headsets were designed well so we heard just enough information to help us understand what we were seeing. You couldn’t help but be impressed. There was a lot of architectural decorations but not too much. But really, this is the home of the English royal family – would you expect anything less?

I made an effort to talk to the wardens (the name for the volunteers who were standing throughout the tour and ready to answer questions – and to make sure the tourists didn’t touch anything they shouldn’t). For instance, in the throne room, I asked about the chairs placed to the left and right of the two chairs in the center and learned that they were the thrones from some of the prior kings and queens, including Victoria’s.

So many pictures and other works of art. Throughout the rooms we saw displays of the gifts the queen has received from all of the diplomats and heads of state over her long reign. There is probably a large warehouse where these are kept.

At the end of the tour of the state rooms we exited through the room where people enter the palace gardens. The queen holds two garden parties on the great lawn each year to recognize those who have contributed their time and talents through various charitable organizations.

Backside of Buckingham Palace

Great Lawn Behind the Palace

I saw that there was a cafe and couldn’t resist ordering tea and cake. I doubt I’d be invited to the palace, so this was my chance.

After enjoying some tea and cake I went out into the gardens. From walking around the palace during past visits I knew the palace gardens were vast, considering this was in the middle of London. Had no idea what I was about to see. I took my time enjoying the long walk through the queen’s backyard.

I’ll have to return and do the tour again. So much to see.

I had planned to meet Paula so we could have tea at the Corinthia Hotel. Guess I was still in a daze and got turned around with my GPS directions. Thought I had plenty of time to meet up with her, and as it turned out, had to take a taxi because I was too far away to meet her on time.

I had been to the Corinthia with Viktor last month and wanted to go again. Paula and I were going to go there a few weeks ago for her birthday, but it was when we visited Churchill’s home and we were too tired. As I had mentioned in a previous post, the Corinthia does Afternoon Tea in the proper fashion. The service is extraordinary and the serving staff are professionals with excellent customer service.

Paula

Chandelier 

We were there for three hours and it was time for me to leave for Prean and Viktor’s for dinner. I must have had 6 cups of tea. Paula and I talked about so many things and it was perfect! We sat in high-backed chairs with a view of this amazing chandelier.

Prean and Vikor invited me to dinner when they visited me at my flat the night before. I arrived just a little after 7:00 and they were finishing up with our dinner. Potato leek soup and a salad. It was funny because Prean was doing something with some broccoli and thought he hadn’t made the soup and he was slicing bread and setting the table. What about the soup – was he still making it? Turns out the soup was already done. It was the perfect meal and we enjoyed talking while eating.

Prean mentioned that he didn’t feel well. As Viktor and I were talking after dinner I wondered where Prean went to. He was asleep. Viktor and I talked for another couple of hours and I realized I still needed to walk back to my flat, which wasn’t that far, but I’d already walked almost 20,000 steps already. I said good night to Viktor and finished my day with a final walk.

Was exhausted when I walked in the door. What a great day! Buckingham Palace, Paula, and then Prean and Viktor. Perhaps too much for one day, but when you are doing the things you like, it isn’t really that much of an effort.

Tomorrow I’m visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum. I’ve been there before, but there is so much to see, it takes several visits to take in everything on display.

 

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