To be honest, not much happened today. Which was actually nice because I think we needed the change of pace. We committed ourselves to touring Buckingham Palace, but the rest of the day we played it by ear. I think we surprised ourselves with how much rest we really needed at the end of this week. At least we’ll be recharged and ready for the plans we have this weekend, as well as the things we’ll be doing during our last week (*tear*).
But I’m sure you’re interested in hearing about Buckingham Palace! The Palace is only open for tours when the Queen is not in residence, usually in the summer. You can tell whether she’s in residence by the flag that flies at the top of the Palace; if it’s the Union Jack she’s absent, if it’s the Royal Standard she’s present. I figured since the Palace only opens select times of the year, it’d be best to take advantage of the opportunity and go this time. Financially, that meant cutting out some other things like Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace, but I think I’m okay with that. After all, I will come back some day…
They were going through the changing of the guard when we arrived, so we only saw a little bit of it through windows on the inside. Our ticket allowed us access to the State Rooms and the exit route took us through some of the grounds. It was very beautiful. I tried to imagine what it’d be like to live there, or to be called there as a guest, but it’s hard to wrap your head around when you’re shuffling along with a hundred other tourists listening to an audio guide.
Some interesting things I learned on the tour: Buckingham started as a small townhouse that was later added on to and became the center of London. The lighting in the entrance hall is dimmer so the natural light coming from atop the grand staircase causes your eyes to drift upward. The grand staircase itself was designed with shallow steps so it would appear larger and cause you to bounce as you ascended. Some of the largest and most important (whatever that means) royal art collections in Europe are housed in two large rooms that were created by knocking three rooms together. And probably the coolest bit of knowledge was that in one of the rooms, where the Royal Family recieve guests, one of the large wall mirrors is actually a secret passage to the private rooms, so that they can discreetly enter and leave without having to pass through the more common areas. As a monarch, I think I’d be upset if my palaces didn’t have secret passages.
We (this is just Faith and me, by the way; Felicity went off to Chatsworth House, aka Pemberly from Pride & Prejudice) then ate lunch in St. James’s Park before returning to our flat. We’d thought about going to the London Dungeons later, but ended up unexpectedly knocking out for like 3 hours. So we instead found a fish n chips place called Kerbisher & Malt for dinner.
I don’t know how many have travelled over to my food gallery, so you should if you haven’t yet (even if you have, I keep updating it, so just go over there anyway). England isn’t exactly renowned for their food. They have the fish n chips, the full English breakfast, and tea. And that’s pretty much it. There’s a lot of Indian food here, due to the large number of Indian immigrants. But I’m not really a fan of curry, so I’ll be passing on that cuisine. I don’t really feel bad for eating other foods like pizza and sandwiches, though, since that’s really all that’s left.
So this might be an amendment to a previous tip, but… Pro Travel Tip #8: Don’t go to a place you could go to at home. This is true for food (like Starbucks, McDonald’s, Whole Foods), clothing stores (like H&M, Urban Outfitters, Claire’s), and other places (like the Apple Store, the Disney Store, or Lush). Understandably you might be desperate for a cerrtain item, like you forgot to pack underwear or something, and it’s easier/cheaper to go somewhere familiar. But as a general rule of thumb, don’t travel half-way around the world only to shop at the same places you shop at back home. It’s just pathetic.
Anyway, I don’t have much else to say for today so I’ll end it here. Tomorrow though… fingers crossed our plans pan out!