Desire fighting jet lag we awoke on Tuesday morning with a clear itinerary for the day. The saying “man plans and G-d laughs” could not be more true for possibly the worst surprise of our honeymoon.
We took a 20 minute walk from our hotel to Buckingham Palace to view the Changing of the Guards. We arrived around 10:30 AM, but people had clearly been waiting much earlier than us. So much so, that there was no more room at the gate. We asked a bobby for his opinion as to where we should stand to get a great view. He directed us to the rope and that’s where we waited. Obviously when you come to London there are certain things you need to see – they are almost required of you. And this being one of them, we went, we saw, we left. It was cute, but not mind blowing. The official start time was at 11:30 AM, and it all came to a conclusion at 12:00 PM.
View of the Guards
Marching band coming in
Smiling despite the wait & the crowd
View of the crowd
Like I wrote in London in 2 Days: Part 1, I like to pack a lot in to a day so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we had next to zero rest time. It was an easy walk from Buckingham Palace to the Churchill War Rooms along the periphery of St. James Park. We purchased the one day London Pass while we were still in the U.S. I calculated that the pass would be well worth it if we went to the Churchill War Rooms, Westminster Abbey , Tower of London, and Tower Bridge. It also helped us skip some lines, which was very helpful given my intense travel day.
Helpful Hint: Purchase the London Pass before you go to London!
The Churchill War Rooms are an absolute must if you love history & underground passages. It was very well done. Side note, we were reprimanded for eating our kosher prepared tuna sandwiches in the cafe by a rude French woman. It soured the experience a bit and was probably foreshadowing of what was to come.
Churchill War Room
My planning being impeccable, we then took a 7 minute walk to Westminster Abbey which is beautiful in that church sort of way. Clearly the millions upon millions of dollars that have been sunk into the restoration costs have kept it looking beautiful.
We then took the tube to the Tower of London, which has held many prominent nobles & royals captive, including Queen Elizabeth I by her sister Queen Mary I. Talk about sibling rivalry!
We made perfect timing and waited only a few minutes before a guided beefeater tour. I found the concept of the beefeaters fascinating! All beefeaters are retired from the “Armed Forces of Commonwealth realms and must be former senior non-commissioned officers or petty officers with at least 22 years of service” (Wikipedia). Talk about dedication! They live with their families on the property and work full time as tour guides. We split off from the tour after 15 minutes as we knew we didn’t have loads of time to make our way through. The main attraction was The Crown Jewels, which are very well protected, so don’t get any ideas! In order to fill in the background information that we were missing, I used Rick Steve’s Pocket London guidebook. I would strongly recommend utilizing Rick Steve’s free audio guides that can be found here. At the end, we even had time to walk over Tower Bridge, which is often mistaken for the London Bridge.
Tower of London
Tower of London
And then everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. After arriving back at our hotel and just as we were ready to head out to catch our Eurostar train to Paris, we received an e-mail notifying us our train tickets had been cancelled & refunded with no alternative instructions or methods on how to get to our next destination. We further learned that migrant workers had been burning tires in the Eurotunnel and that all trains and ferries to Calais had been suspended indefinitely. Apparently, this is not as uncommon as you would think it would be – click here, here, here, and here. After gobs of money later we hitched a ride and took another ferry to Paris – the total trip time was 14 hours I can never get back. Eurostar is at best shady and at worst morally bankrupt – click here, here, and here. So save yourself from having to endure an experience riding it and just take a flight directly to your destination. I can almost promise you it will be easier & safer.
Helpful Hint: Fly, don’t take the train!