Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Changing of the Guards

I would imagine the most popular spectacle in London is watching the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. I've attended the ceremony a few times trying to figure out where the best place to take photos, see the Foot Guards arriving and watch the ceremony. If seeing the ceremony is most important, you have to get there at least an hour and a half early so you can get a spot against the gate facing Buckingham Palace. Unless you are a tall person you won't see much of anything if you are not right up against the gate. The main downfall being in that specific spot is not seeing the Foot Guards marching in and leaving the palace.

 I don't have the patience to stand in a spot for almost two hours, especially if I am alone. I was also more interested in seeing the Foot Guards marching down the street toward the palace and then when they were leaving. I found that the best spot is to stand at The Mall on the same side as St. James Park just a little ways down from St. James palace. At approximately 11:15am a detachment of the old guard with the band leaves St. James Palace and head towards Buckingham Palace and right by where I was standing. Once the band and guard passed me, I headed over toward the Bird Cage Walk to see the new guard arrive, which was about 11:30am. It was a bit more crowded but not too bad. The Household Calvary arrives back on The Mall around 11:40am and then you wait until 12pm when the Foot Guards leave the palace and the changing of the guards is complete.  

View of Arch Wellington from Buckingham Palace on Constitution Hill.
Gate between Green Park and Buckingham Palace.  
Buckingham Palace
Victoria Memorial located infront of Buckingham Palace.
Spectators positioned in their spot for the changing of the guards around Victoria Memorial.

Scots Foot Guards marching down The Mall toward Buckingham Palace.
I couldn't get much closer if I tried - they marched right by me.
The new Foot Guard arrives from the Bird Cage Walk.   There are five regiments of Foot Guards in the British Army.  All noted by three specific things: Grouping of buttons on their scarlet tunic, collar badge and plume color on their bearskin cap.

They are the Irish Foot Guards.  They have a blue plume.
This is the Coldstream and Scots Foot Guards.  Red plume are Coldstream and no plume is Scots.
 Household Cavalry arriving.
 The Foot Guards heading back to St. James Palace.  The changing of the guards is complete.
 He looks so young!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

London Parks

There are so many wonderful parks to explore in London. Hyde Park is located in West London, by our apartment, so I have spent a lot of time there. The entire park is about 350 acres with a large recreational lake called The Serpentine. Before you enter the park off of Piccadilly Street you see Wellington Arch and Memorial. The first thing I thought of was a small version of the Arc de Triomphe from Paris.  
The Queen Elizabeth Gate leads you into Hyde Park.
Stumbled upon the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment practicing.

Kensington Gardens was originally in Hyde Park but Queen Anne expanded the garden 30 more acres. The two most significant memorials at the garden is the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial and the Albert Memorial.

The Albert memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband Prince Albert.
Directly across the street from the memorial is the Royal Albert Hall. A concert hall most known for holding The BBC Proms concerts, which is an eight-week summer season holding classical orchestras daily.
The design for the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial is supposed to reflect her life with water flowing from the highest point in two directions. It is meant to encompass her "inclusive" personality.
Kensington Palace is still a royal residence and located in Kensington Gardens. It was the official home of Princess Diana and birthplace of Queen Victoria. 

 Regent's Park located north of the city center is 410 acres. The park has a beautiful rose garden, lake, open air theatre to hold evening concerts and is the largest outdoor sports center in central London.  Additionally, the London Zoo is located in the northern part of the park.

I do enjoy going to the zoo but thought it was a bit pricey. It was £21.50 ($35 US) but then everything in London is expensive! I invited Staniela and her two young girls to join me. They are the family of one of Scott's co-workers and I met Staniela in Vienna so we had a fun time catching up.

St. James Park is the oldest Royal Park in London and surrounded by three palaces -  one being Buckingham Palace. The park is not very large, just 58 acres, but has a nice lake through the entire park.

Our apartment is between two parks.  Hyde Park and Green Park.  To get to Buckingham Palace from our place you walk through Green Park.
View of Buckingham Palace walking through the park.
There are a few more parks I would like to visit before I leave so hopefully I will have time.
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