The weather turned lousy today. It drizzled most of the day and temperature hovered in the high 50s.
After a quick breakfast at the hotel we grabbed our umbrellas and hit the tube to get to our first destination, the Buckingham Palace.
Walking from the tube station to Buckingham Palace, we went through Green Park where trees have started changing colors. The different hue leaves gave us a wonderful background for picture taking.
Green Park on a cloudy day
Khanh walking through Green Park to Buckingham Palace
Khanh and Lee in front of Buckingham Palace
Khanh and Don at Buckingham Palace. Too bad we can't wait for the Change of the Guards Ceremony
Buckingham Palace is an immense gray stone building surrounded by heavy and tall black and gold fence and gates. A couple of guards stood at their posts and paced back and forth every often.
At 10 AM, a crowd had gathered to wait for the change of the guards ceremony which didn't begin until 11:30 AM. It continued to drizzle and the wind was blowing pretty hard so we decided to move on to the next place.
Crowd roars as colored guards marching down the street
A statue near Buckingham Palace
Back to the tube we went to Queensway Station to visit Kensington Palace, where Princess Diana had resided.
Walking through Kensington Gardens and passing by the Round Pond to get to Kensington Palace, we took more pictures of the changing season.
The red brick Kensington Palace sits peacefully behind it's fences and is surrounded by herb gardens and ponds. The drizzle and the wind added sadness to our heavy hearts.
Lee in Kensington Gardens
on the way to visit Kengsington Palace
London 'Fat Tire Bike Tour' riding through Kensington Gardens
Lee paying tribute
Kensington Palace, a somber place
It was about 1 PM when we left Kensington Palace. Around the corner from tube station, we decided to check out a Chinese restaurant on Queensway Road. The Royal China Restaurant with its black marble facade looks unassumingly on the outside but inside, it was warm and cozy. We sat around a round table with white table cloth and enjoyed delicious Chinese dishes and hot tea. That was a wonderful meal.
Early Fall in London
Since we had bought tickets for London Eye and the Thames River Cruise, we decided to use them despite the weather. Cruising on the Thames provided us an out-of-element refuge and the tour guide gave colorful interpretations of various London bridges and landmarks.
View of one of the bridges crossing the Thames from the river cruise
The London Eye is an immense vertical steel wheel painted white to which 32 large glass capsules are attached. It rotates slowly and affords visitors inside the capsules perfect views of London on a clear day. The wheel makes a complete rotation every 30 minutes. We were ushered into one of the capsules and enjoyed the experience very much. We just wish that the weather had cooperated.
Big Ben and the Parliament on a rainy day
Lee riding the London Eye
The view up here is awesome even in the rain
One of London Eye's 32 glass enclosures
It was already 6 PM when we got back to the hotel. We rested, changed and went to the hotel bar for drinks. The weather had cleared up and seemed to be warmer.
The statue Eros in the middle of the Piccadilly Circus traffic circle was gleaming in the night reflecting lights from the surrounding sources. We walked down Leicester Square and saw more restaurants, theaters, and shops; then had a dinner of steak and seafood at the 'Aberdeen Steak House' Restaurant near Piccadilly Circus. The day started out gloomy but the evening really saved the day for us.
We enjoy the 30-minute ride on the London Eye
We walked down the crowded Oxford Street to check out the various shops and took the tube to Piccadilly Circus, a London major landmark. Piccadilly resembles New York’s Time Squares with traffic, tourists, huge electronic billboards, shops and theaters.
Piccadilly Circus reminds me of New York Times Square
Don and Khanh in front of the huge billboard
'Mamma Mia' plays here
Our trip has ended. We are going home tomorrow and so looking forward to seeing our kids and daughter-in-law, grandson and the new two-month old granddaughter. It is always nice to be going somewhere but nicer coming home. Don and Khanh will be on a separate flight but will arrive home about the same time to reunite with their daughter and the two dogs.
Reflecting back, my experience on this trip is enhanced by the closed group of people I traveled with. Don is fun to be around with because of his laid back and 'don't worry about the small stuff' attitude plus he is an excellent cook and can make a great meal out of just about anything. Khanh and I mesh on so many levels, not the least of which is our passion for travel. I admire her planning skill and she is the reason why this trip happened. Of course, everyone loves Lee because of her caring and willingness to do anything for the group. I predict this group will continue to travel together to many more wonderful places.
Until the next trip. Bo and Lee from Piccadilly Circus, London