Buckingham Palace day!!!!
Woke up early with a cold. Lovely. Then we (Ellie, Leah, Dawn and I) made our way to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. After waiting around for about 45 minutes and seeing the horse guard ride by we gave up and made our way to the entrance to go inside. On our way there we heard one of the wardens (attendants) say that the changing of the guard was not happening today. Thank god we didn't go there just for the guards.
We went inside to the state rooms. Sorry no pictures - cameras and mobiles were prohibited (not like that would stop Dad). They were very beautiful and extravagant. These are the rooms used by the queen to entertain guests. We saw a couple galleries, drawing rooms, a grand staircase, music room, throne room and the ballroom. All the rooms had a color theme which the furniture, wall paper and curtains all adhered too. The rooms had the most beautiful chandeliers, furniture, gilded fixtures etc. The white and gold room had a larger mirror and cabinet that serve as a secret door, through which the Queen sometimes appears. All of the rooms had such grandeur it was simply astonishing. Other castles that I have been to, have been converted into museums, this one is still in use, which is really cool.
Buckingham Palace is a square with a courtyard in the middle. The state rooms make up the back side of the palace. That means we saw less than 1/4 of the palace (with kitchens, post office etc. residing underground). It is just so huge!!!!
When you exit the palace you can walk along the gardens. The term is used lightly since while the grounds are maintained, they are not sculpted. See my facebook pictures to get an idea of the natural element of the gardens. The palace is on a 38 acre piece of land. It is all quite lovely, and makes you forget you are in the middle of a bustling city.
The gift shop was one of the best I've seen so far. You could get a lot of stuff including crowns, shortbread and china (unbreakable). Somehow I managed to get out of there without buying anything.
Admission to the state rooms was steep £15.50 (about $25). They do have a nice readmission program. If you sign your ticket and get it stamped you can return at any time within the year. Of course it is only open in the summer months when the Queen is away (she is currently in Scotland) and most visitors are tourists who won't be around very long, but it's still a nice idea. I may use it when Stacy visits, if she wants to go. You do get a free audio guide included with your ticket, which was very informative and definitely useful as very few things are labeled (again, because it is an active palace and not a museum).
Once we made our way out of the grounds, we went to Oxford Street to Primark (a cheap clothing store). It was so large and crowded, I couldn't handle it. I have been in stores on Black Friday that were less crowded than this store today. I found some things that I liked but I didn't want to wait in the long queues for the tills, and I had lost Ellie, Leah and Dawn. We all ended up walking home separately (about a half hour walk) but only about 5 minutes apart from one another.
We crashed when we got back to the flat, so tired from the crowds and extensive walking. Leah left to go back to Bath soon after we returned. It was really nice meeting her and I'm looking forward to when we go to visit her in Bath.
I took a much needed nap then had a wonderful peanut butter and strawberry sandwich for dinner. After that we went to the Sainsbury's that is a block away, to do some small grocery shopping. I found fake ground meat!!!!!!!!!!! I haven't made it yet, so the verdict on taste is still out, but at least I found it. Now I sill have to find puff pastry and chocolate chips (neither of which appear to exist in typical grocery stores).
Now I really must go to bed. Going to the library tomorrow to do some reading for my architecture class then we are going down to the Thames for the night carnival and fireworks tomorrow evening.
This is my second time writing this because for some reason it didn't save on my iphone so I should have been asleep half an hour ago. Need sleep!!!