Teaser: What does the church spire above have to do with wedding cakes?
Continuing from my previous blog post about where I was in August, we left the Crown Princess cruise ship on August 16th and were shuttled to London for a few days. What a fun time we had!
Our wise travel agent (Stacie with Y Knot Cruise) booked us rooms at the Holiday Inn Kensington. The riots had been quelled by then but we were in a section of London far from the disturbances. See my hot pink luggage? I am so glad I got that color. My bags were the easiest to spot in the sea of luggage when we left the ship and on the baggage claim carousels.
The hotel was very close to many pubs and restaurants and one block from The Tube--London's underground railway. We stopped at this delightful pub for lunch. I just loved all the beautiful flowers everywhere.
Long steep escalators took us deep down into the ground underneath London. We were headed for the London Eye.
I zoomed in on Buckingham Palace here. While we were in London, Kate's dress was on display. But we decided not to join the crowds and stand in line for hours.
The next day, on firm ground, we stood next to the huge gate to Buckingham Palace. Right across the street was a Starbucks where we had coffee and Judy and I took advantage of the proximity of a ladies room.
Like, here is the first Hard Rock Cafe!
The small crown on top of the street light means that this property is owned by the Queen!
Bet you recognize these names!
And then we came to Fleet Street. The tour guide pointed out the Wedding Cake Building. I must admit I did not know this story and had never heard of the building. Fortunately I snapped the above photo just as our bus was passing by. This church is St. Bride's Church. The Great Fire of London destroyed the Church which stood there in 1666 and along with fifty other London churches which had suffered the same fate. It was rebuilt by Christopher Wren. The steeple which was added in 1703 is Wren's tallest and is second only to the steeple of St. Paul's nearby. Standing at a height of 234 feet when constructed and with its four diminishing octagonal stages, it is considered by many to be his most beautiful steeple. It is indeed quite striking. Unfortunately Saint Brides was damaged considerably by incendiary bombs in the second world war leaving just a wall and the steeple intact. Luckily it was sympathetically restored by Godfrey Allen after the Second World Wart back to its former glory.
The shape of the steeple brought it fame of another kind, when a certain Thomas Rich, who was apprenticed to a baker on nearby Ludgate Hill, fell in love with the baker's daughter. After setting up his own business on completion of his apprenticeship, he was now settled and in a secure position to ask the baker for his daughter's hand in marriage. To this proposal the baker readily agreed. Now Thomas, being a fully fledged baker, wanted to surprise his new bride, by creating something really spectacular for her, something she would never forget. However, try as he might, he could not think of anything that would make a lasting impression upon her, or anything that would even tickle her imagination. Not, that is until one day, as he was still dreaming, his wistful gaze happened to fall, as it had so often fallen before, on the steeple with the four diminishing octagonal tiers at the top of the Church in which he was to be married, St.Bride's in Fleet Street.
That was the moment for Thomas when inspiration hit him. He invented the diminishing multi-tiered wedding cake. It was the moment that countless millions of people the whole world over should remember and thank Thomas for. Thomas did not go without his rewards however. He made his fortune selling cakes modeled on St.Bride's steeple until his death in 1811. Read more here.
These are street signs near the church. In England, Ireland and Scotland, they put the street names on the buildings at the intersections. Rarely are there poles with street names on them like we are accustomed to!
This ferocious dragon near Piccadilly Circus is guarding the Queen's property and was originally designed to scare away intruders.
Snapped this photo of a small grocery near our hotel. Krispy Kreme is everywhere!
The next day we took a half day Grayline tour to Stonehenge. It rained the whole day. Stonehenge is about a 2.5 hour drive from London and is out in the middle of nowhere. If you miss the bus returning, you get left! Dave and I were so thankful for our LL Bean raincoats with hoods! I needed three hands though. We had those audio guide things to listen too but the rain was so loud it was hard to hear and I was also trying to hold my umbrella and take pictures! By the time we got all the way around the stones, we were soaked from the knees down including our shoes. We were happy to get back on the bus and were the last ones on. Apparently the others gave up way before we did! It was good to get back to our hotel and get dry and warm. I wrung out our jeans and set the hairdryer to work on our shoes. We had been planning to take in Westminster Abbey that afternoon but I was not willing to stand out in the rain any more. Besides, I had to get to Harrod's, you know!
So, we changed into dry clothes and headed to the Tube. Harrod's was only two stops from our hotel. This place is huge! We had to ask for a map to find our way around. My brother-in-law, Geoff, who grew up in London told me "you must go to Harrod's and have the oysters!" So we headed to the Oyster Bar.
Well, I knew Harrod's was upscale but really! For a half dozen oysters on the half shell, the price was 19.90 pounds which translates into about $30. Too much for me! So we went looking around in all the departments and on the top floor was a little yogurt bar. We had delicious fruit, granola and yogurt dish for about 7 pounds. Also on the menu was a hamburger for 80 pounds! Yikes, $120 for a hamburger?? Wish I had snapped a photo of the menu!
We caught the very fancy old elevator down and went through a maze of departments.
Awww... such cute doggies. I did not look at the price tag!! But there was a whole wall of Highland Terrier stuff.
On our way back to the hotel, we saw this poster of Kate on the wall in the Tube! She is much loved by the Londoners from what I could tell. And, who knows, we are probably cousins! Right! And this is the last photo I took on our trip. The next day we took a van to Heathrow only to discover our flight to Boston had been cancelled. Swell. But they put us on an even better flight to Atlanta. We said goodbye to Carl and Judy in Atlanta. They live near Athens GA, had dinner and boarded our flight to Raleigh. It was good to get home. Felt like we had stepped into the tropics though. It took me about 3 days to acclimate back to our time zone. I am so glad I had no weddings scheduled for the rest of the month! Stacie, we are ready to go on another cruise as soon as we save up the money!!Hey you brides and grooms, a Princess Cruise around the United Kingdom would be a fabulous honeymoon. We saw several couples that may have been on theirs. Call Stacie!