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London Day 7 – Westminster Mark 2, The Eye, Buckingham Palace, & Resting Up!

So, first off today, we’re going to revisit yesterday, since I had to cut it short due to the time… We went to Wicked at the Royal Victoria, and the theatre was amazing. As I mentioned, I wish I could have taken some pictures of the show itself, but pictures of the theatre and the interior before the show started will have to do.

Wicked has been in the West End for over six years now and continues to be one of the most popular shows around. From what Amanda tells me, the book it’s based on was actually written while the author (Gregory Maguire) was visiting London. After seeing it, I can certainly see why.
Below, you can see some pictures of the interior of the theatre.Though the show first launched in New York on Broadway, sticking British accents on the main characters works perfectly with the costumes and feel of the show.

Anyway… Day 6 was good! We had another good day of British Interaction, chatting up an older couple on the bus who were fascinated by us being from the US and being very polite. They seriously started our day out with a smile while we were on the way to Westminster.

We got home really late last night as mentioned previously, but we decided that we wouldn’t sleep in, because we want to try and start resetting our clocks a bit, so we don’t end up being awake until 2am every day. I mean, from a CA perspective, it’s not a bad thing, but while we’re here, that would stink!

The alarm hit too early today, but we got right up, had a bowl of cereal, got dressed, and were out the door before 10am, I do believe. We headed straight for Westminster again, figuring we could get another look at Westminster in better light (but not spend the day there), see Big Ben, and then the Eye. We made progress faster than expected, too, and were already over at the Eye within a couple of hours. We took a ton of pictures along the way, but we knew we would have to see the Eye. It was really great going there off season, too, and perhaps because of when we got there, we only had to share our “ride” with a family of three from Peru and another American, this one from Boston.

The Eye is one of the must-see experiences of London. You get in one of these compartments and it spins around a giant ferris wheel, 520 feet tall! At the highest point, you get to see just about anything you could want to within central London, a great view of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and, in the distance, Buckingham Palace. Loads more, of course, but I’m not going to list them… that’s what a search engine is for. Seeing the Palace, though, I commented, “it doesn’t look that far,” so when we got down, we decided to walk there. Maybe that was a mistake, but at the time, a little over a mile didn’t seem like a big deal. Before leaving the area, we watch the London Eye 4D Experience, which was a quick four minute “4D” movie. You wear 3D glasses and they also blow bubbles, water, smells, and fog. It’s free with purchase of the Eye tickets, so worth the time it took. As a note, if you are travelling with a wheelchair, you can get a “carer” ticket, which is free. Saved us a few pounds.

After that, we popped into a gift shop, bought a couple of sweatshirts (couldn’t help ourselves), and were off for Buckingham Palace. It didn’t take took long to get there, but not every road is super wheelchair friendly. We had one “almost” spill where I almost dumped Amanda out of her chair when we hit the curb. Other areas, I had to kind of guide here down a 4-6″ drop. Not a huge deal, I’m used to it, but I can’t imagine someone self-propelled on a wheelchair having a very good time doing it!

The sun actually came out while we were on the way, which was surprising given we’ve only seen it, at most, for about a minute a few days ago. It warmed up a tad, a few degrees above freezing, which makes those outer layers if you’re on the move seem a bit oppressive (for me anyway). We popped off a few more pictures of Big Ben and the Abbey, but were mainly geared toward Westminster. A couple of slight routing errors later (there are lots of forks and such, so it happens), we got there.

Buckingham Palace is another LARGE location that is difficult to appreciate in pictures. It’s hard to back up enough to get it all in one shot and then, when you do, it’s scale is lost in distance. There are details all over, even the gates, and plenty of statues around. Basically, it’s a gorgeous spot, and worth the walk and push to attack it with multiple cameras (we’re running one standard digital, one that’s more classic style with multiple lenses, and camera phones). Depending on the shot, you use a different camera. Works for us anyway!

Once we took enough pictures there, we noticed a spectacular park right next to the Palace, St James Park.  I have a hard time really calling it a park simply because I didn’t see people walking through the grass, just on the main paths, but perhaps people just have respect for the area. Beautiful regardless and I was in love with it because my favorite trees are leafless in the winter. The cold beauty of the trees reaching all around with their gnarled branches were a nice counterpoint to the green grass beneath.

We were both hungry at this point (don’t recall the time exactly, but it was likely around 2pm) and used our TEP Internet connection to find some close GF Food on Amanda’s phone. We had one place in mind, which was a bit over a mile away. I had just walked over a mile, so I figured another wouldn’t kill me. Problem is the paths in the park, however. They aren’t smooth and I felt like I was pushing the chair uphill on a rocky road. The drag killed me. By the time we got to the main drag, I was sweating despite the cold and breathing out nice plumes of steam. We kept at it, but Amanda was getting really cold and we gave up likely within a quarter mile of our intended destination. We went into a cafe on the top floor of a book store (5th Floor somethingorather), had a Jacket Potato, Cob Salad, tea, soda, and water… Fueled up, we walked out and saw a bus which could get us close to the flat. We hopped on, got to our area, went into Boots for some cough drops for Amanda (she’s not feeling spectacular), Tesco for some more soda and food for the next couple of days, and then back to the flat… Now I’m here and it’s not late at night, so we’re planning to make some dinner and head to sleep a bit earlier today. Sounds good to me!

And, some more pictures!

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