Today was our best day here by far. It was truly beautiful outside -- around 60 degrees, sunny and no wind (which is great because the wind here really makes things cold!). Our kiddos are not used to walking as much as this city requires, so when we said we were going to go somewhere today, we were met with whines. So, we decided to let them choose where to go. My son chose Big Ben. Middle dd will choose next time!
So, we caught the 15 bus to Trafalgar Square (or "Afawgar Squire", as my middle dd says it). The children were excited to see the lions at Trafalgar, because we brought them home (from our original trip in January) a book called "Katie in London", in which the lions in Trafalgar Square come to life and take the children in the book on a tour of London. Middle dd did ask if the lions were alive before we got there! Anyway, they loved the lions, the fountain, and middle dd loved chasing the pigeons.
Then we headed down Whitehall to hopefully catch the changing of the horse guards. We were able to catch the 2 o'clock change, which was very cool. The children were enamored with the swords of the guards. I must say, the solemnity and regality of the horses and the guards are beautiful. Maybe I sound tourist-y, but I loved it. And those horses are huge!
We kept going down Whitehall until we came to 10 Downing Street -- residence of the Prime Minister, currently Tony Blair, of course. Not unexpectedly, it is strongly fortified and hardly able to be seen these days due to security, but it was still neat to see (well, what could be seen of it, anyway). Let me tell you there is a major security presence there and they are packing some heat!
We continued to head south and soon saw Big Ben towering above the other buildings in the distance. My son was so excited. I think it was really important for him to be able to choose today where we went, and it really paid off in the complaining department. He was very happy to have "brought us" there. Big Ben is massive, and oh-so-pretty. The parlaiment building was lovely as well.
Kiddos (and mom, who am I kidding?) were getting hungry by this time, so we went to Tesco to pick up sandwiches for a little picnic. While sitting across from Big Ben, a kind couple told me to put my camera closer to me for fear that it would get swiped. I'm really not used to that, so I appreciated the heads-up. Despite some rather annoying, thumping music from a group of three hare krishna's close by, the lunch was relaxing and fun.
We then headed over the Westminster Bridge, in hopes of riding the London Eye. The mall area outside the London Aquarium and the Eye were packed with people today, probably because of the lovely weather. As we approached the London Eye, and my son saw it's massive height, he decided we should wait to ride the London Eye until grandma comes over! Jubilee Gardens was right there on the South Bank and the atmosphere was so festive. There are some wonderful living statues that will perform or let you take their photos for pocket change, so we did that. The kids favorite one was a grown man dressed as a baby. Yes, it was a bit weird, but very amusing! We also enjoyed some ice cream on the lawn. I was soaking in the weather, the sights, and the family time.
We crossed back over the Thames, this time on a different bridge. I think it was the Hungerford Footbridge. Absolutely breathtaking! A dream come true for this little-traveled girl. Big Ben was in the background, the Thames underneath, and the London Eye was overhead. Wow! What a gorgeous photo opportunity. And you had better believe I got the camera out for that one! The baby, who is really in the "twos" with her behavior lately insisted on walking the bridge, which was fine, because hubby and I always figure tired kids at night are best! Getting off of the bridge was a bit of a problem, as no trolley/buggy path (handicapped accessible route) was available. That's a big problem in this city. Lots of hurling the stroller over one's shoulder, or bumping it down the stairs, or mommy in front lifting the foot rest while daddy picks up the umbrella handles and carries it down. That aspect of sightseeing with three little ones in this city is trying, but it's definitely not going to stop us.
We bought a few postcards to mail, went back to Trafalgar Square, and then caught the 23 bus back home. The children love riding the buses. Truly, when we ask them their favorite parts of the days past, often they say "the double-decker bus!" Easily amused, my children are. And I love that about them.
Tomorrow it's off to Holy Trinity Brompton for church. We're hoping things go well with the children here, as it's a church hubby and I felt quite comfortable in and drawn to on our first visit. I'll let you know how things go.