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London at Large

After our grand adventure at Hyde Park the day before, Leslie and I were excited to see what else London had to offer come Monday. For our first stop of the day, we hopped on the train and headed up to see the famous King’s Cross and St. Pancras Stations.

Leslie and I are both Harry Potter fans, so obviously, we had to visit Platform 9 3/4. I had heard it wasn’t really worth the hype because it’s just a cheesy cart with a stuffed owl tacked to the wall. That was pretty true, but it was still fun to see it—even if neither of us were willing to stand in an hour-long line to get a picture of ourselves pretending to be witches.

From there, we trekked over to The British Museum, where we checked something off my bucket list: seeing the Rosetta Stone! I have wanted to see it ever since I was a kid, so the British Museum was a must see for our trip.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only person who was excited to see it, and the crowd was worse than the crowd I fought to see the Hope Diamond the first time. Unlike at the Smithsonian, however, the crowd didn’t patiently work their way through so that everyone got a chance to see the fancy rock—this crowd was very pushy and rude and I literally had half a second to snap one quick picture before someone shoved me out of the way. I was really disappointed, and frustrated that a moment I had looked forward to for most of my life was tainted by impatient people.

The British Museum is HUGE and full of lots of artifacts, but I felt that it was a little… austere? Institutional? Dare I say boring? I love love love visiting museums, so it feels almost sacrilegious to say that a museum as iconic as the British Museum was anything less than spectacular, but I really felt let down. There was very little color, the ID signs for each of the artifacts had the name and source but rarely had any educational information, and it was crowded. I’m definitely glad we went, but I wasn’t bothered when we decided not to stay very long.

[pricing_column_name comment=””]The British Museum[/pricing_column_name]
[line]Official Site[/line]
[line]Price: Free[/line]
[price comment=”Our Rating”]2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)[/price]

For the next few hours, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through London. We walked for miles, but we saw Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, lots of lovely little shops, and a never-ending supply of incredible architecture.

We also saw Downing Street, home of MI5, which was pretty rad. There were locked gates and scary-looking guards everywhere.

We wandered over to Buckingham Palace then, and watched the guards do their silly walk in front. Leslie and I were both feeling pretty tired after all that walking, so we sat on the steps of the Victoria Memorial and people watched for a long time. When we were finally ready to move along, we made a quick detour past the Household Cavalry Museum to see the horse guards because I’m a horse nerd.

I am not ashamed.

Next, we were off to Westminster Abbey, but first, we stopped to admire Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. We timed it perfectly, and we got to hear Big Ben chime! So fun!

[box title=”Quick Tip” border_width=”2″ border_color=”#dd3333″ border_style=”solid” icon=”camera” icon_style=”bg” icon_shape=”circle” align=”center”]If you are planning a trip to London and you want to get good shots of Big Ben, Jess over at Young Rubbish has a great post about where to go to get the best photos. [/box]

Westminster was another one of those places that I’ve wanted to visit ever since I was a kid, but the entrance fee is ridiculous. I was about to give up on my idea of ever going inside when a college friend’s wife alerted me to the existence of Evensong, a nightly choir performance and worship service in the Abbey that is free to attend. Beautiful music inside a beautiful cathedral? Don’t mind if I do.

We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the Abbey, and I realized later that I never got a wide shot of the whole exterior. But it was incredible. I’m a huuuuuuuge William Wilberforce fangirl, and I was hoping we’d be able to see his memorial inside the Abbey. When we entered, they herded us very quickly to our seats and I felt a bit of despair that I wouldn’t see it, but then there it was! It was definitely a tender mercy that I was able to catch a glimpse.

The service itself was interesting—there were some interpretations of biblical scriptures that were way different than anything I’ve ever heard before—but the music was beautiful and it was lovely to sit and rest for an hour and just soak it all in.

[pricing_column_name comment=””]Westminster Abbey[/pricing_column_name]
[line]Official Site[/line]
[line]Price: £20.00 adult (if purchased online), £17.00 student (online price)Or attend an Evensong for free (No sightseeing during this time)[/line]
[price comment=”Our Rating”]5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)[/price]

Our last stop before heading home for the night was the Millennium Bridge, where we had a fantastic view of the River Thames, the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament. The weather had been a tad gray all day, but the sun broke through the clouds just then and it was absolutely gorgeous. It was a perfect end to a fantastic day.

Read more about my trip with Leslie here.

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Jess Friedman
Jess is a Canadian-American who’s always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about helping families make and preserve treasured memories that strengthen bonds across generations. You can read more posts by Jess here.

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