London – Day 6 – Palace of Westminster to Gordon’s Wine Bar

….day six continues along the River Thames

After leaving the Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey we continued walking towards the River Thames. Right behind the Abbey lies the Palace of Westminster which holds both houses of Parliament for the United Kingdom. It was originally built in the eleventh century and rebuild in the 1800s after it burned down.

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As you can see from the photos the structure was under quite a bit of construction. The one big disappointment was that Big Ben was also under construction but we knew this before we arrived in London. What I didn’t know was that the entire tower would be covered in scaffolding. The refurbishing is scheduled to take three years to complete and during the renovation the clock bells have been turned off.IMG-8945

From many parts of London one of the sites that stands out above many of the building is the giant Ferris wheel called the London Eye. It is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames in London and is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually.IMG-6999
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As we continued along the River Thames we came across the Golden Jubilee bridge built in 2000. It is a steel truss bridge located in Lambeth borough.

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From here we headed over to Gordon’s Wine Bar but on the way we passed through the Courtauld Institute of Art. At the time we had no idea what we were looking at but we liked the sculptures and the architecture.IMG-8961
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Gordon’s Wine Bar is located on the Strand. It is thought to be the oldest wine bar in London having been established in 1890. The bar is very much a family affair, owned by Wendy Gordon who is the wife of the late much loved Luis Gordon, and now overseen by Luis’ eldest son Simon. The building itself was a warehouse built in 1790 and in 1880 it was converted to accommodations.

We entered through the cellar doors. You need to stoop to get to your rickety candlelit table – anonymity is guaranteed! If the sun is out you can also sit outside in Watergate Walk and enjoy watching the world go by. The bar is loved by many and seems to be a place where time has stood still. It serves only wine, sherries and port and simple food, ranging from homemade pies to mature cheese. If you’re in London you should definitely check this place out. You can find more information here.

A word of warning. If you do go into the cellar watch your head because the ceilings are low and it takes awhile for your eyes to adjust to the dark. I hit my head three times in the space of a minute making my way to our table.

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London – Day 6 – Westminster Cathedral vs Westminster Abbey

…..I had no idea that they were two different churches

The main difference is that the cathedral is Roman Catholic and the Abbey is part of the Church of England. Also the cathedral is much newer. It was built in 1903 and is the largest Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales. One of the things that struck us as odd about the interior of the cathedral is how dark the ceiling in the main part of the church is. According to the guide at the entrance, the ceiling is almost black because the main lighting source when it was first built consisted of candles and the soot from the them has darkened the interior. I thought that was odd, considering how wealthy the Catholic Church is but according to history churches built in the early 1900s had to be debt free before they could be consecrated. The interior of the cathedral was never completed but it was consecrated none the less in 1910.

The cathedral is built in the Byzantine style.

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The Abbey on the other hand is much older. It was first constructed in 1245 and was originally Catholic. Henry VIII changed that when the Catholic Church wouldn’t grant him a divorce and he formed the Church of England. In 1560 Queen Elizabeth I re-established Westminster as a “Royal Peculiar” – a church of the Church of England responsible directly to the Sovereign, rather than to a diocesan bishop.

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We didn’t get in line to see the inside of the Abbey but my cousin in Germany has convinced me that when we go back we need to take the tour. It sounds fascinating and worth the money. It is certainly rich in history.

In the next post I will continue with day 6 and describe our walk along the Thames River.

 

London Day 5 – Just the Two of Us

….after 4 days with Mom and Papa we decided to give the girls a break

Today Kevin and I ventured out on our own while Andrea and Josie did their own thing. We got on the Tube and made our way to the Bloomsbury District of London. The Tube by the way is the name of London’s subway system because it is shaped like a tube.

  • The Underground is divided into nine zones: central London is covered by zone 1.
  • There are 11 Tube lines.
  • The Tube fare depends on how far you travel, time of day, and how you pay.

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The Underground platforms lie anywhere from 41m to 58m below street level. The longest escalator at the Angel station is 60 m or 200 ft. long. All day long the PA system sends out PSAs warning people about the dangers on the escalators and advising commuters to keep to the right side.

The first stop we made on this day was at the British Museum. We were there in the middle of the week and so were hundreds of school children. This museum was built in 1753 and is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture.IMG-8873
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Some of the objects that we saw included Japanese art forms from Manga cartoons to wood cut prints and sculptures made from clay, bronze and glass.

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We also visited the Iraq display where we saw the Cyrus Cylinder.

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We passed on seeing the Rosetta Stone because there was a class of children in the line ahead of us and my husband just wanted to leave at that point. We made our way across the street and decided to grab some lunch at a pub.

One of our biggest disappointments in London was the lack of independent pubs. Many of the pubs belong to a chain called Greene King and when you walk into one it is pretty obvious that it is part of the chain. It seems they all have the same menu and alcohol selection. The first one we ate in was situated across the street from the museum. The food was good but later during  our trip we found it difficult to find a pub with a different menu.02970a49-26e9-43b6-b1ab-1185f03c24b6
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Around the block from the pub we discovered this wonderful art gallery called the Contemporary Ceramic Centre. We were immediately drawn to the window by the display of Sophie Favre’s figurative sculptures. At the front and back of the gallery dozens of her animated sculptures greeted us with their human-like qualities.IMG-8896
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These creatures certainly brought a smile to my face.

Thursday Doors – More From London

….thanks to Norm for hosting Thursday Doors

All these doors are in the South Kensington area of London. The Queens Gate Lodge was owned by the Museum of Natural History and was built in 1883 to accommodate an engineer and messenger who worked at the museum. This tiny 2-bedroom house sits in Hyde Park just inside the Queen’s Gate and can be yours for a mere 6 706 000 pounds. When I first saw the sign at the gate to the house I actually thought that it belonged to the Queen. It wasn’t till I returned home and started to research the place that I discovered that the place was named after the famous gate that leads into the park and has nothing to do with Her Majesty.

 

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