We flew out of Frankfurt-Hahn, formerly Hahn Air Base, an American base that closed in the early 90's. It was also our first trip on Ryan Air, the European low cost airline. They use the cattle car loading procedure, no reserved seats. However, we had paid a 5 Euro fee to get priority boarding which at least got us to the front of the line ahead of the masses. We flew into Stansted, north of London and took their 45 minute express train into the city and Liverpool Station where we got on the tube straight to our hotel.
We got in a bit late but on schedule so by the time we got to the tube station for our hotel, Lancaster Gate, just across the street from Hyde Park, it was 850PM. Rez and his group were waiting for us at The Swan, one of our favorite pubs. Conveniently, The Swan is on the way to our hotel so we stopped to say hi then went to check in. Back to The Swan we had a great time meeting Rez's family, having some great pub food and a couple pints of lager. The Swan is a nice pub and one of our favorites because, I think, it's probably the very first pub Jeff and I visited together in London way back in 1983.
First stop Thursday morning was the Tower of London. I’ve been visiting the Tower since my dad first took me there as a little girl. Jeff and I have been there a number of times, quite often to show family this wonderful place. It’s a great place to visit; lots of history, much of it quite gory. The Tower was originally built in 1078 by William the Conqueror after his Norman victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Originally built as a point of defense and a seat of power it became better known as a prison. Today it protects the Crown Jewels and has a great armory and munitions museum in the structure’s original building, the White Tower.
In the Tower’s souvenir shop waiting for Rez and his group.
Doing the Yoeman Warder, better known as Beefeater, tour through the tower. Here we’re at Traitor Gate. Jeff says I always worm my way up to the front of these sort of things. Maybe he’s right.
William the Conqueror’s original building, the White Tower.
These are the last Tudor houses in London, the others having been destroyed in the London Fire of 1666. These are located within the Tower walls around the castle courtyard. Beefeaters and their families live in the Tower and within the homes here with the blue doors. The last prisoner in the Tower of London was held in these Tudor houses; Rudolf Hess, Deputy Führer of Nazi Germany.
Inside the White Tower armory museum. Henry VIII’s jousting armor.
Another Henry VIII suit of armor. Quite the cod piece.
A little suit of armor thought to be that of Charles I.
The armory museum isn’t just ancient armor, swords and lances. It’s now a weapons museum too. Here’s a gold plated machine gun; perfect for Christmas.
Tickling the cod piece on another suit of armor.
Tower Green; the execution site of seven high ranking royal subjects including two of Henry VIII’s wives; Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. This glass sculpture was installed on the site just a few years ago and contains the name of the seven people executed here.
Walking across the Tower Bridge. Jeff and I, Tina and Kevin Anderson.
Tower Bridge from the south side of the Thames.
The beginning of our Thursday pub crawl; the Anchor Tap just south of Tower Bridge.
28 Horselydown Ln
Southwark, London SE1 2LN, UK
Best Steak & Kidney pie in London at the Anchor Tap.
Jeff and I on the Thames with the Tower of London behind.
The George Inn. This pub is owned and operated by the National Trust. It’s the only surviving galleried coach inn within London. It was rebuilt in 1676 after a fire destroyed much of the area. Both Shakespeare and Dickens frequented The George Inn.
77 Borough High St
Southwark, London SE1 1NH, UK
Old Speckled Hen, a cream ale, at The George Inn. Old Speckled Hen is brewed in Bury St. Edmunds near where we lived 1983-87.
Always fun to see what’s for sale in the UK.
The Anchor is the only riverside pub that survives from the days of Shakespeare. At one time it was a favorite stop of river bandits and smugglers.
34 Park St
Southwark, London SE1, UK
A short walk along the south bank of the Thames from The Anchor is the replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.
The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the Thames. It opened in 2000 but was closed just two days after its opening when folks using the bridge reported a noticeable sway. It reopened two years later after alterations were completed to eliminate any sway. We walked across to Millennium Bridge to get to the north side and on to our next pub.
St. Paul Cathedral. Interestingly, the cathedral was closed for the first time since World War II because of people camped out in front of the entry protesteing international corporate greed.
Black Friar’s is a great pub on the north side of the Thames just across the street from the Black Friar’s underground station; what a coincidence. It is a uniquely V shaped building with equally unique, ornate interior decoration.
174 Queen Victoria St
City of London, London EC4V 4EG, UK
A very nice beer we hadn’t run into before, Stella Artois Black.
Now we’re on London’s famous Fleet Street, the one time home of the city’s newspaper industry. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is one of the oldest pubs in London. It’s located down a narrow alleyway just off Fleet Street.
22 Fleet St
London EC4Y 1AA, UK
Over the entrance to the original bar of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.
Small, almost black wood with a coal fire makes Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese a very cozy place.
Across Fleet Street from Ye Old Cheshire Cheese is The Tipperary, the oldest Irish pub in London. A nice, little, narrow pub.
66 Fleet St
London EC4Y 1HT, UK
Just off Fleet Street is The Knights Templar pub. It’s very different from most pubs because of its size. Formerly a bank it’s now an open, big pub.
95 Chancery Ln
Westminster, London WC2A 1DT, UK
Back to Fleet Street to eat at Ye Olde Cock Tavern. We had a great Shepard’s Pie and then made our way back to Tower Hill tube station to do a Jack the Ripper walking tour.
22 Fleet St
London EC4Y 1AA, UK
Ye Olde Cock cock. Nice cock.
Friday morning in Westminster at Parliament Square. Many famous men immortalized in a statue here. One of the most famous is this one of Winston Churchill. Regretfully, the square was closed off to folks because of another group of corporate protesters.
Not all statues on Parliament Square are Brits. At the back of the Square and across the street, Abraham Lincoln.
Parliament, Big Ben and The London Eye.
Big Ben, duh!!
One of the newest attractions in London, the London Eye. £20 for once around which takes 45 minutes.
Parliament along the Thames. Picture taken from Westminster Bridge.
10 Downing Street. Way back there behind the fence and the security.
The Horse Guards at Whitehall.
Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square.
Our merry group from left, Keebs, Tina, Hana, Rez, Kelly, Jeff, me and Ian. We couldn’t get onto Trafalgar Square either. It was fenced off for NFL activities the following day. Who knew that the NFL had that much pull in London.
A new statue on The Mall, Yuri Gagarin.
Very near St. James palace where Charles and Camilla live. Statues of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, parents of the present Queen Elizabeth II.
Further along The Mall we were passed by the Whitehall Horse Guards on their way back to their stables after their change of the guard.
Buckingham Palace. The Queen wasn’t in. She left for Australia when she heard we were in town. She does that every time.
Our first pub stop of the day, Shepard’s Tavern. We’re in the Mayfair area of the city. This is a very high end area just east of Hyde Park and south of Oxford Street. The U.S. Embassy is in Mayfair, as are a number of others. We walked by Bentley, Rolls Royce and a lowly Porsche dealer.
50 Hertford St
Westminster, London W1J 7SS, UK
Stopped at a Victorian pub, The Audley, for lunch. Just two blocks south of the U.S. Embassy.
41 Mount Street
Westminster, London W1K 2, UK
Another one of the oldest pubs in London, The Guinea Grill, established in 1675. It's down a back side street. Very much off the beaten path.
30 Bruton Place
London W1J 6NO, United Kingdom
The next pub on our crawl was planned to be the Hog In the Pound, a quirky pub just off Oxford Street. Jeff and I had been there before a few times. This is what it used to look like.
This is what the Hog In the Pound looked like last week. Gone forever. Jeff had read that 1500 pubs are closing each year in Great Britain, mosly because of economic pressures.
We’re just east of Oxford Circus now. One of the prettiest pubs in London, some say in all of England, The Argyll Arms. It still has the cut and etched glass and wood dividers that separated the classes who came to the pub to drink and socialize.
18 Argyll St
Westminster, London W1D 2, UK
Yes, the NFL was in town; Chicago vs. Tampa Bay. Here’s Tony Romo advertising the events that would take place on Saturday in Trafalgar Square.
A really nice old pub in Covent Garden, the Lamb & Flag. It was first licensed in 1623. In the 19th century it became a popular location for bare-fisted boxing matches.
33 Rose Street
City of London WC2E 9EB, United Kingdom
Also in Covent Garden is the Nags Head, a nice gathering place and our last pub of the day.
10 James St
Westminster, London WC2E 8BT, UK
Whenever we’ve been to the Nags Head in the past Jeff has always taken a picture of me outside. This time, since he said it’s not Nag Head but Nags Head, he said he needed at least two wives, Tina and I. Haha, very funny.
Our hotel in London, The Columbia Hotel. We've stayed here off and on since 1983. It was an American Officer's Club during WW II. Although the hotel has seen better days it's got a great location, comfortable beds, full English breakfast and the price is right.
Next morning before heading to the airport we took a walk in Hyde Park. Here’s Kensington Palace where Will and Kate live.
On the western shore of the Serpentine lake in Hyde Park is this cute statue of Peter Pan.
The Albert Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall.
The Albert Memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband Prince Albert who died of typhoid in 1861. The Memorial sits directly across the street from the Royal Albert Hall. The structure took 10 years to complete and was opened in 1872 although the Albert statue wasn’t seated until 1875. There are four large white statue groups at each corner of the Memorial that represent the corners of the British Empire; America, Asia, Africa and Europe.
The Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871. Today, it typically hosts up to 350 various concert events each year; everything from a Cream reunion concert, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 25th anniversary performance of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera and Eric Clapton’s Concert for George celebrating the life of George Harrison.
Well, that was it. Time to check out of the hotel and start for the airport. We had a great time with old friends and new ones too. It's always a special time when we're in London. Can't wait for our next visit. Cheers!!