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.
|Duke of Wellington|
|Part of the Princess Diana Memorial|
|Princess Diana Memorial|
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.
|Walking between towers.|
|A torture device for prisoners.|
|Another torture device.|
|Guarding the jewels!|
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 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!