Sunday, February 23rd, 1997 London, England
Barbara was up and about by 6 am. By eight the rest of us were going! We walked to St. James’ Catholic Church in Spanish Place on St. George Street, about a fifteen minute walk from the hotel for Mass. Walking over to the restaurant area near the hotel after Mass, we found a delightful little café serving breakfast called the Sub Café. Beans seem to be a staple of the English Breakfast. The bacon is Canadian style. Everyone enjoyed a hearty meal. On the walk home, Barbara stopped to shop with Patti while the rest of us continued to the hotel.
We watched a long procession of people in the area of Speaker’s Corner; an area of Green Park near the hotel. We later found out that this was a protest march regarding the pending change in the gun laws of England. Mostly farmers we were told. We later saw them in Trafalgar Square where they’d ended their walk. They were listening to various speakers on the issue of Gun Control.
Meanwhile, we’d returned to the hotel for our gear for the day and proceeded back towards Speaker’s Corner. We listened to several different speakers on different subjects all talking at the same time from their soap box (without benefit of microphones thank goodness). Two speakers started to argue about their issues between themselves for a bit instead of addressing themselves to their audience. All quite charming as a demonstration of Freedom of Speech. This happens every Sunday morning at this same location and tourist come to witness the scene.
We caught a tour on The Big Bus Company. Only £12.00 each and we can get on and off as much as we like during the tour. We sat on the top of the double decker bus which in this case was open and made perfect viewing (but a bit chilly) as we went round the area. We saw Mayfair District (very expensive homes); Green Park and the Ritz Hotel; Piccadilly Circus area with Soho and Chinatown. Haymarket with Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square where the National Gallery is located and also the demonstration of the Gun Control Protesters (a special for today only). Then off past number 10 Downing Street; Parliament Square which has Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Waterloo, Covent Garden which has the British Museum. St. Paul’s Cathedral and London Bridge.
Finally the Tower of London where we departed and found a McDonalds with bathrooms and french fries for a snack compliments of Randy. Then into the Tower for a view of the Queen’s Jewels. Very impressive. We found one of the towers named “Martin” and inside more jewels. Randy says that “Martin” is like “Jones” in England…lots of them! A very charming demonstration of the old time army with muskets and pointed spears that were demonstrated every few minutes in the courtyard. The drummer was very impressive. As we left the area, the “army” marched over to the moat area and actually shot their muskets! Very loud!!
Back on the bus we continued to Charing Cross; Whitehall; and Westminster Abbey where we got off except for Barbara who continued on home. Not much to see here so we got back on the bus…starting to rain and getting much colder. Randy and Patti continued on the open top but Jim and I sat inside. We saw Scotland Yard and Buckingham Palace before we arrived back at Marble Arch where we departed the tour.
Back at the hotel we called down and made reservations for the “Jack The Ripper” Tour that evening for everyone except Barbara who’d decided to call it a day. By the time we left the hotel it was really windy. Light rain off and on. We walked to the Cumberland Hotel and caught the bus with several other Americans. Our tour guide was a young Scottish man named Shawn. He had a great brogue and terrific sense of humor. He was constantly using Helen (a single lady on the tour at the front of the bus) for a straight man.
After picking up guests at several more hotels we went to the very oldest part of London. There we departed and went to the various locations of the murders of Jack the Ripper. As the rain started getting heavier one of the party stepped back and started putting a plastic cover (from the dry cleaners) over her fox jacket! Shawn asked if she was trying to build an oxygen tent! Turns out the lady was Helen.
We then went into the actual pub called the Ten Bells where one of the victims was last seen prior to her murder. Here we all had a round of ale and lifted one for Jack! During the tour we also passed many of the spots that we’d seen earlier in the day and then ended at a very nice pub where we had a late Supper of Pub Grub! Fish & Chips plus more of the Ale. While we were there we met Helen who was from Atlanta, Georgia. We asked if she knew Myra Williams (mutual friends of all of us from real estate). What a small world…she knew Richard and Myra quite well. We sent our regards. A most delightful evening. We returned to the hotel about 10:30 PM just in time to contact those in the USA. It was only 2:30 in the afternoon for them!