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London – Day 1: Buckingham Palace

September 27, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

I arrived on a Friday; April 11, to be exact. After getting to the hotel, I presumably ate lunch somewhere. It’s fuzzy. After resting for a bit, I headed back out to Victoria Station to get a SIM card for my phone and withdraw some cash from the ATM. Despite having arrived in the morning, it was mid-afternoon now. With not much time left in the day, I decided to walk down to Buckingham Palace. There was a street named Buckingham Palace Road, so this seemed a good route. On the way was something called The Royal Mews. It seemed worth a look and I did want to see as much as I could. (I still don’t know the actual definition of a “mew”.)

Queen Alexandra's State Coach

Queen Alexandra’s State Coach

Whatever it means, The Royal Mews is responsible for the two local modes of transportation: horse-drawn carriage and automobile. The Mews is a square-shaped building, with a large courtyard in the middle. I picked up a headset to do the self-guided audio tour. This worked out well, but I wish these tours moved a bit faster. There’s only so long you can stand in one place looking at the same thing.

The Scottish State Coach

The Scottish State Coach

The first stop is the carriages. Each one has its own little garage. The carriages don’t necessarily match the tour due to maintenance. There were 5 coaches on display, one of which I could not identify. The others were Queen Alexandra’s, Irish, Australian, and Scottish State Coaches. These 4 all look relatively similar. Queen Alexandra’s State Coach was designed in 1865 and according the official souvenir guide, the finest-built. Of the 7 limousines in the family, only one Rolls Royce was on display.

Royal Mews

In a room all its own, is the truly massive Gold State Coach. Weighing in at almost 8,000 pounds, it requires 8 horses! Built in 1762, it is over 250 years old.

The Gold State Coach

The Gold State Coach

It is not used often (usually only for coronations and the recent Queen’s Jubilee celebrations). This is probably a good thing, since the coach does not actually fit through the doorway of the room in which it’s housed. One of the window frames has to be removed, believe it or not.

The Gold State Coach

The Gold State Coach

The Mews is not very large and much of it is reserved for the families that live there. With not much else to see, I headed back out to the Palace. Unfortunately, due to the timing of my visit, I could not actually go inside. The Staterooms are only open to the public during the summer; essentially August and September for 2014. This does not prevent tons of people from wandering around outside. Immediately by the gates were the tourists. Over at the Victoria Memorial is where all the kids hang out; high school or college, I suppose. Anyway, there were quite a few French, too. I wonder how many were here just as a day trip, since taking the Chunnel between Paris and London is less than 2.5 hours. I was tempted to jaunt over to Paris for a day, but I didn’t have time for that.

Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial

Since I was limited to outside, there’s not much to say about the palace. There were alot of barricades being putting up, though. I assumed an event was coming soon. Unfortunately, I was right about this (more later). I headed back to the hotel and stopped at a small park hidden away on a side street. I sat there for a few minutes eating a snack and admiring the London-ness of this quiet area in the middle of the city. After looking it up when I got back home, I learned this little place was called Victoria Square, home to a few notable persons. There is appropriately, a statue of young Queen Victoria.

Victoria Square

Victoria Square

For dinner, I ate at giraffe. Food was ok, but service was not just slow, but non-existent. My waitress disappeared and I had to ask someone else for the check. By then I had completely lost interest in dessert. That’s all for the short first day. The rest of the photos are in the gallery.

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