Monday, January 19, 2015

London in 72 Hours: Day 3

Can you believe it, it's Day 3 of the "London in Three Days" Challenge!
Don't miss Day 1 and Day 2.

Day 3:

09:00am     Hyde Park and Harrod's

Up 'n' at 'em! With a 1:45pm train to make, I had to wrap up my time in London with some pep in my step. I wanted to see one of London's famous parks and settled on Hyde Park. This is the only bit of the agenda I would have changed. I started at the Marble Arch, which is just exactly that and probably could have been skipped, and Speaker's Corner. But it was Christmas Eve and there was not a soul to be found at this site usually swimming with speechmakers and philosophers and some real wackos. In hindsight, I would rather have gone to St. James's Park, which I thought was far more picturesque than Hyde, and closer to my final destination, but oh well. 20:20. I did end up right near Harrod's which has been a bucket list destination ever since Lindsey Lohan starred with herself in Parent Trap. (Is it bad that I was mentally checking off places from her car ride home while I was there? #millennial). I didn't have time to do more than take a quick peek inside and ride the escalators, but it was a really beautiful building, on the inside. The outside seemed a little rundown, sadly, and I think it's lost some of the glamour from its golden days.

But the window displays were still some of the grandest I have seen anywhere! The themes for the displays this year were fairytales come to life, so naturally I was a huge fan. Can anyone guess this one?

10:45am     Changing of the Royal Guard

If you want a good spot, come early. Like, an hour early. Because this place was completely filled with people from all over the world smashed up against those iron bars like their life depended on getting a picture of those beaver hats (they are pretty cool). I came a half an hour early (starts at 11:15) and managed a spot on the left side of the main gate, which turned out to be a great spot for taking pictures of the whole ordeal, which lasted about an hour. It took extra long because there were two royal army bands that played us Christmas songs! (Please excuse the poor quality: between being constantly elbowed by an overly ambitious mom trying to give my place to her kid, and Blogger's video format, it doesn't amount to much, but I hope it gives you the idea.)

Never in my life did I think I would spend a Christmas Eve standing in front of Buckingham Palaces hearing the Royal Guard play "Jingle Bells." The whole ceremony was definitely cool to see, and I think everyone who visits London should make sure to see it. For me it was a great send-off from London as I dashed back to the apartment to grab my suitcase and catch my train with just two minutes to spare.

01:45pm     Back to the English countryside to celebrate Christmas!

Of course you may have the rest of the day to explore Kensington or St. James's Palace, wander through Soho, and even meander over to Greenwich Village. I'm sure if you were traveling in the summer, you could do more in the evening. But for those of us blessed enough to see London for the first time in all it's Christmas glory, this is the agenda you will want to use!

Funny enough, I am currently reading the autobiography "My Life in France" by Julia Child, and one Christmas, she and her husband Paul go to England for the Christmas holidays, doing a few days in London traveling to Hereford for the actual holidays. Imagine my delight when I realized I inadvertently recreated the very holiday schedule of Julia Child! Très bizarre, non? And that takes us right up to Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day all spent in the quiet, soothing, and very very English countryside of Hereford county. 

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