Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 3 in London, Buckingham Palace, Bus Tour Part 2 4/2/2013

I woke up early, as I have every day since I arrived in London.  I started my day by walking to Pret A Manger for breakfast, then I headed across the street to the Original Bus Tour stop in front of Hyde Park.  The beginning of the bus tour was a repeat, although each tour guide inserts new commentay, much of it interesting.

Buckingham Palace was one of the first stops on the tour, I knew I wanted to see the changing of the guard, and got off at that stop.  The tour guide told us we had plenty of time to get to Buckingham Palace for the chaning of the guard at 11:30am, we arrived at the stop around 9:45am.  The tour guide also told us to expect a crowd because of the nice, sunny weather. It was cold to me, but the sun did cut the chill, felt warmer than the day before.

I walked around the corner and down the street to the entrance of Buckingham Palace, a few people had already started to gather along the gates.  I found a spot near Buckingham Palace's entrance and took a few pictures, settlled in for the hour and a half wait for the changing of the guards.

From Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace & Tower of London April 2, 2013

I went to see the changing of the guards during my tour of Europe in Junior High School, I do not remember much of it, except there was a crowd and we were not close to the gates.  I had a much better spot this time, I happened to get there are the right time, I did not research the times for the changing of the guard or do any advance planning before leaving home.

I waited for the changing of the guards next to a group of Americans California and an Indian family on the opposite side of me.  I heard some Japanese and was happy to realize I could still understand Japanese, at least childrens level Japanese.  A mother was directing her child to sitdown (swarinasai) & then told the child to come here (oide), the Japanese family were not close enough for me to talk to, but it was nice to hear some Japanese, it has been awhile.  I read my Europe guidebooks on my Kindle to kill time while waiting for the changing of the guards to begin.  The crowd got bigger and bigger, there was a huge crowd when the changing of the guards ceremony began.

Finally, a little before 11:30 the guards in front of Buckingham Palace began marching, sometimes they shuffled backwards, they spun their guns around, etc. Then the guards outside the palace began arriving, at least one on horseback.  I stood up on the platform where the gate to the palace is to get a better view of the guards arriving.  The changing of the guards ceremony was about an hour and a half long.  There was a concert, a lot of marching, yelling of orders, the guards even came up to the gate and spoke to us.  Everyone was getting tired as the ceremony continued and the guards kept playing more songs.  The Americans next to me, said another one?  The music was good, but we had all been there for over 2 hours, it was cold too.

After the changing of the guards ceremony, I went back to wait for the tour bus, by that time I was freezing.  I went into the store at Buckingham Palace, looked at the "God Save the Queen" pillows and other merchandise.  I did not buy anything but I warmed up a little and got back on the tour bus. I got off at the London Eye stop, the crowds were huge, I decided to wait until the next day to try to get onto the Lodon Eye.  I got back on the tour bus and it was a repeat of what I had seen yesterday, some new facts from a different tour guide, but I had seen it all already.

I went back to my hostel after the tour, I stopped and got a Chicken Shish Kebab sandwich at a Middle Eastern restaurant on my way to the hostel.  I hung out in the pub below the hostel and then went upstairs for an afternoon nap, I ran into some new hostel mates from Italy, another woman from France arrived later in the evening.  For the first time since I arrived, the hostel room was full, 6 people. After my nap I went back to the Pub, watched the soccer game and did some more blogging. I went back to the room around midnight, everyone was getting ready for bed, there is not much space in the hostel room with six people, but everything worked out. I have not had an American hostel mate yet on this trip, maybe I won't, who knows. I did not come to Europe to hang out with Americans, I can do that at home.

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