Well, the time has finally come to take the exploRVistas entourage overseas! On Wednesday, we made our way to Chicago O’Hare to catch our British Airways flight to London Heathrow.
We caught a red-eye out of the Windy City at 9 PM, arriving in London almost 8 hours later. That translated to after 10 AM in the UK. We would like to say we slept on the 747 on the way there, but the seats were as cramped as if we had been flying on a commuter jet. Oh well, at least my gluten free meal was good! Couple that with a bottle of wine and we made do.
We even were lucky enough to get to climb down a flight of stairs with our carryons when we arrived at Heathrow. Hmmmm….
Moving on, we grabbed our bags and headed to our Airbnb in a cute little black taxi.
This was our first taste of traveling on the opposite side of the road from what we’ve seen our entire lives. Our driver was excellent, the cab was spotless and the trip from the airport was quick! Our accommodations are located in a series of 1920’s era flats, close to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Everything was pretty much as we expected it would be, with our host stocking our refrigerator with plenty of goodies. 😊. We made our way to a local pub for dinner.
Diana had fish and chips…
…and I had a bunless burger with fries. Everything was delicious.
Friday found us heading towards Buckingham Palace, as we had 2:30 PM tickets to tour the state rooms. We decided to walk there, a distance of a few miles or so. First stop was to Harrod’s Department Store, as we had heard that their food hall was an outstanding place to grab lunch.
To say that Harrod’s is outstanding is really putting it mildly. The displays are the best we have ever seen in any large retailer.
And it really dazzles at night! But back to lunch. We purchased some take-away salads (to go) and headed to Hyde Park to find a place to eat them.
A park bench by the pond did just fine…especially once the pigeons figured out we were eating veggies and left us alone.
We then made our way to Buckingham Palace. The Queen is currently in Scotland for the summer, so the building is open for tours.
Photos were not allowed inside. We marveled at the extent of what we were allowed to see, from the ballrooms to the room where the Queen bestows knighthood on her subjects. Tours were pretty much self-guided (with the aid of headsets and a mobile audio tour device). Docents were stationed throughout to answer questions.
The gardens out in front of the palace were gorgeous. So colorful for so late in the summer.
This is what the rear of the palace looks like. The Queen holds her garden parties on this lawn each year. What really amazed us is the amount of infrastructure that is in place for the summer tours that all disappears before she gets home. Elaborate displays, gift shops, rest room buildings…all of it is taken down in two weeks time. Admission fees are used to help cover the cost of the palace maintenance.
And wait….did I say the Queen was in Scotland???
By golly, they all showed up to explore the vista with us! Diana is displaying her best Queen face, keeping with her British ancestry. 😐
That wraps up or first impressions of the UK! We have a few more days in London before we head out in our rented motorhome. Be sure to stay tuned for all of that and more. Until next time, safe and happy travels to all!