It's Friday October 20, 2017 and we're in LONDON! I cannot believe it.
I wake up in the Hilton Kensington with this song in my head: London Calling
We all wave at Prince Albert.
Cruise through Piccadilly.
We see a lot of bikes and newly added bike paths. Nikki explains the Low Emission Zone Tax to us and says a lot of people now ride their bikes into the city inside of driving their cars.
Many think this is the London Bridge-it's not, it is The Tower Bridge.
St. Paul's Cathedral
We hop off the coach and walk towards Buckingham Palace. We're hoping to see the changing of the Queens Guard. To get there we walk part of The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk.
We station ourselves just outside these gates, up against the railing.
And then it begins. Nikki explains how the "old" guard is replaced by the New Guard. During the Changing the Guard ceremony, also known as ‘Guard Mounting’, one regiment takes over from another. The Queen’s Guard consists of the St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace detachments. The New Guard, who during the course of the ceremony become The Queen’s Guard, march to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks.
We gather and walk up the hill to the castle. The stone fortress is quite impressive. Some of it's history: William the Conqueror’s wooden castle was rebuilt by Edward III as a stone fortress with magnificent apartments; then Charles II set out to rival the Versailles of his cousin Louis XIV and added more ornamentation; George IV filled the rooms with outstanding works of art and gave the Castle its famous skyline.
The Queen's Flag is flying so she is in residence.
The gardens are spectacular.
Oh look, there's a black Range Rover at the Queen's Residence...
And now the Range Rover is gone. Maybe the Queen is out for a drive.
Even a fire on November 20, 1992 couldn't bring down the Queen and her castle. Read about it here. The castle suffered extensive damage in the fire and was fully repaired within the next few years at a cost of £36.5 million, in a project led by the conservation architects Donald Insall Associates. It led to the Queen paying tax on her income, and to Buckingham Palace, the Queen's other official residence, being opened to the public to help pay for the restoration work.
We also visited the Queen Mary's Dolls' House and St George's Chapel (where many famous dead people were laid to rest.) Time is tight so we race through the chapel.
We give the royal wave to the castle and head back to London.
Bruce is dubbed Official Assistant Farkeler (don't ask...)
Our group of travelers pose for one last photo.