The hotel has a wonderful breakfast spread for us to choose from - bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, hash browns, yogurt, bread, croissants, jams, fruit salad, muffins, coffee, hot chocolate and 3 types of juice. Something for every palette. The group, in pairs of 2 and 4, slowly made their way down throughout the morning hour, and awoke with a hearty meal, or as was needed by some, a hot cup of coffee.
At 9:20 promptly the group headed to the Shepherd's Bush underground station - only 3 minutes away from the hotel if you manage to catch the lights right. We are riding on group passes - which was BRILLIANT. Anyone familiar with London will know the tube isn't cheap. But a tube pass for a group gives us access to 6 zone (which includes the airport), unlimited, at a cost of £4.50 per adult (19 and up) and £1.70 per "child" (18 and younger). So this is unlimited transportation for very very little. Each person gets their own ticket for entering and exiting and so far it's worked great - though we did have a student misplace her ticket and have to replace with (which is pricey on it's own). Lesson learned - treat them like cash!!
The group is starting to get a good feel for navigating the underground. It's a great way to travel, though not without it's bumps and hiccups. Being the leader (often Mr. D) with 19 ducks trailing after you is a challenge in not getting anyone lost - we've been good so far. We have also encountered our first jam packed train (squish in there like sardines in a can) and first cancelled train with 20 minute wait on the platform (which they withstood after whining - impressive given it was the end of another long day).
|First visit to Trafalgar Square, with National Gallery in the background. Harpreet, Harsimran, Qudrat, Kimmi, Manroop, Harleen, Simran, Rene and Suesha, Top; Ms. Mulji (bottom left), Ms. Garr (bottom centre) and Mr. and Mrs. Becker (bottom right).|
|National Gallery, Serena & Celina (bottom left), Janey & Shelby (center), and the Rooster - aka - Public Art.|
|Top Photos Booth Pics (L to R): Janey, Group jammed in, Simran, Harleen.|
Bottom: Group Pic at the fountain in Trafalgar.
After our lunch break we began the bus tour portion of the day. I can only speak for myself, but it was GOOD to sit. GREAT to sit in fact. Our legs have been logging a lot of km - 15 on Monday and 8.9 on Tuesday in fact. So the sitting portion was nice. The spitting rain, and super cold wind not as much, but Many of us were willing to tough it out for the photos! In our 2 hour loop we saw SO much, that I couldn't possibly detail it all here. We went through old London (like Roman London), the financial district, past the Shard, through shopping areas, past Hamley's, across the Tower, London, Westminster and Mayfair bridges, past the eye, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, City Hall, Scotland Yard, Tower of London, numerous old churches and more. Our guide, Nuri, was well versed in interesting anecdotes and Harry Potter fun facts (perfect for our group), and made the commentary educational and enjoyable. I wish I could have stopped and fully photographed every since item we saw - but their just wasn't time. In the end I have snapped pictures of more buildings that I can remember the stories for. However, I clearly remember a story of Thomas Hardy (writer of Tess of d'Urbevilles) who, when died, wanted his heart buried in Dorset - his home. He obviously meant his whole self, but the literally meant it as his HEART, and removed it from his body and placed it in a tin, intending to bury just his heart in Dorset, while his body at Westminster. But a (his?) cat ended up eating the heart in the tin on the counter. So....not sure what lesson to take away from that...
|Top Left; Shelby and Janey embrace the cold. Top Right: Trafalgar Square.|
Bottom Left: St. Paul's Cathedral. Bottom Right: London Eye
|Sites from the tour: Tower containing Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Australia House (aka Gringott's Bank from Harry Potter)|
|Driving over Tower Bridge, and then seeing the Tower of London|
|Qudrat and Kimmi on the escalator up at Knightsbridge, leading to Harrods (complete with food)|