Thursday, February 23, 2012


Although he's been there twice, Jon was more than willing to come back to the great city of London so I could have a look. What a fun city filled with an abundance of history. The architecture in London is amazing and even as the modern buildings try to slightly take over, we don't think it will ever lose that old school charm. Although we've seen our share of history over the past six months, the history in London is more relatable to us.

We looked to Fat Tyre Bike Tours to give us an overview of the major sights. Our four hour bike tour took our small group to famous sights such as Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, and Princess Diana's memorial. We rode through all four royal parks and heard anecdotes about each place from our guide, David. These stories included the numerous break ins to Buckingham Palace, an arrogant but successful general (Wellington), the city's reaction to Diana's memorial (they didn't like it and thought it was too plain), and people jumping into the fountains at Trafalgar Square after Spain won the World Cup in 2010. This was a great way to see the city in just a few hours.

Trafalgar Square

Kensington Palace

Duke of Wellington

Part of the Princess Diana Memorial
Princess Diana Memorial

Buckingham Palace
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

That night we went on a Jack the Ripper tour. Our tour guide brought this mysterious crime to life and led us to the actual places where the Ripper victims were killed or found. It was very eerie to know that 124 years ago, in the then impoverished area of Whitechapel, with no lights down these streets and alleys, these gruesome murders were committed. Our guide also carried with him something they call "Ripper Vision" which is a handheld projector. Through this we were able to see the actual shocking photos of the victims, letters sent from the Ripper, and sketches and headlines from the newspapers of that time. Very creepy stuff, but a great tour!

Our hotel was right across from Parliament and Big Ben so we walked across the Westminster Bridge over the Thames River quite a few times.

One day we walked along the water all the way down to the Tower Bridge and then into the Tower of London. This historic castle, which was built in the 11th century, has been used for many different purposes such as a palace, a fortress, and a prison. Throughout time different monarchs added to the fortifications of the tower making it almost like a small village.

Tower Bridge

Walking between towers.

A torture device for prisoners.
Another torture device.
We were also able to see the Crown Jewels, which included a number of magnificent items such as crowns, scepters, orbs, rings, swords, spurs, bracelets, and robes. The Imperial State Crown alone had 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies on it. One scepter had a 563 carat diamond on it! Yikes!
Guarding the jewels!
Besides touring around, we ate at a few of the many pubs in London. Fish and chips, banger, beans, mash, hamburgers, many lunch pies, along with a ton of British beer frequented the menus of these fine establishments.

One thing we found funny about the city was that at almost every intersection the words look left and look right were painted on the street. I guess the city has had a lot of close calls with non U.K. members looking the wrong way. I can't say that we always looked the right way when crossing (or was it left?).

Here are some more pictures from our long weekend:

Fun taxis!
Fun in the phone booth!
Double decker buses!

Overall, we had a fantastic time here and really enjoyed the city. We definitely need to plan another trip back in the future!


  1. I love that you did a bike tour. And the Jack the Ripper tour sounds intriguing too! What a fabulous trip!

  2. I want to go to London! (and everywhere else that you have visited so far!) Bustling city, but quaint too, with a lot of history. I love the double decker buses, and I would love to go to one of the pubs and have fish and chips. That's exactly how I picture London to be! It sounds like you had a lot of fun on the bike tour (definitely better than driving!)