Monday, May 18, 2009

Day 4 a day late: Hampton court and more

I think once you read this post you’ll be able to see why last night there was no post.  After all of the walking we did yesterday I fell right to sleep when we got back to our room and our legs were still recovering today.   Also, this post is going to be picture heavy…just a warning.

We started the day by grabbing breakfast at Waterloo train station and then taking the 3o minute train ride out to Hampton Court.

hampton1 Hampton Court was originally the home of Cardinal Wolsey, who then gave the palace to his king, Henry VIII.  It ended up also being the home of Queen Elizabeth I, Henry’s daughter by Anne Boleyn.  Chris and I have been really fascinated with Henry VIII over the last few months so we really got into the history of this place.  It also happens to be the 500th anniversary since he was crowned so we’ve been to 3 of 4 huge exhibits London is showing. We’ll be seeing the 4th tomorrow.  Anyway, this is the view of the palace from the front as you come up the driveway. Another thing really interesting is how different the palace looks from each side. It had been remodeled many times depending upon what king or queen was in residence at the time.


This is just another view of the front of the house with some of the statues that greet you as you walk to the door.








This is a view from the side looking towards the house from one of the many gardens. This garden was put in by Henry VIII and was his privy garden. It was SO pretty. 






The is from another side of the house.  You see how different each side looks?  We toured the inside of the house from top to bottom and got to see the King’s apartments, his privy kitchens, the Queen’s apartments, Wolsey’s rooms, and the Georgian rooms.  All of it was really cool and interesting and we spent the entire day there from opening to just about closing time.  I think we took 200 pictures of the place.  They also had this great exhibit of portraits of all of the women in Henry’s life from his wives to his children.  These are the original portraits we’re talking about..from the early 1500’s! It was really fantastic.


Also fantastic were all of the different gardens.  I think I can think of 5 off the top of my head that we walked through. Plus there’s an English maze in one part of the garden.  Chris and I raced to the center and he won..clever guy. We took the opportunity to get some really nice pictures.




3 cheers for nice strangers who see us struggling to take a picture of ourselves.

Ok, ok..enough about Hampton Court. Trust me…you’ll see more pictures of this place when we get back.  We have lots and lots of interior pictures.

So we caught the 4:30 train back to London and decided we still had some wind in our sails so we decided to do the “Westminster walk” that Rick Steves suggests in our guidebook.  To do that we had to get off at the Westminster Tube station that happened to be right in front of the London Eye.  So…..


…..we decided to hop on and take a ride. 


I was really worried that I would get anxious or sick up in this thing but it moves so slow you can barely tell you’re moving. 25 people can fit in one pod and it doesn’t swing or’s very stable. So, I ended up having a great time and the views were spectacular.  We met a really nice lady from Vancouver who we traded pictures with….you know, if you’ll take a picture of us we’ll take a picture of you kind of trade.  The only down side was that once again, the London weather was very sporadic. It was sunny going up and raining coming down so the pictures of one side of the city are good, the other side of the city were a little more difficult to get through the raindrops on the windows. 


This was one of our trade pictures.  We were on the way up at this point. 








And this picture was on the way down.  You can see the rain there coming in behind Parliament and Ben.  If you click on the pictures, they get bigger by the way.  If you look close, this is a picture of Parliament and Big Ben.  The bridge is Westminster Bridge and just behind Big Ben up and to the right a little you might recognize Westminster Abbey.



I know we had some Big Ben pictures a few days ago but here’s yet another one from the other side.  Here we have just walked across Westminster Bridge from the other side of the Thames.

So at about this time it’s probably getting close to 7:00pm and we decided to do the Westminster Walk which would take us up to Trafalgar Square.  On the way we passed a few cool sites such as the remains of Whitehall castle and 10 Downing Street which is where the Prime Minister lives.  I have to quickly tell you a story about that walk.  I really embarrassed Chris because in all honestly, we carry our Rick Steves Guide to London everywhere we go, and Chris often hides it behind something so we aren’t SO obviously tourists, though we probably are pretty obvious. I don’t think we’d be mistaken for Brits by anyone. Anyway, we had just gotten to 10 Downing Street when I hear a lady say, in an American accent, “well it looks like we’re about halfway through our walk.”  It struck me as funny because Chris and I were too at that point, so I look down and sure enough, this lady’s husband is also trying to hide the exact same guide book as we are carrying.  So I say to the lady, “Hey, you have the same guide book that we do!”  She kind of laughs and then we introduced ourselves, her family was from Texas.  We talked about how we had all been freezing, being from warm climates, and then they went on their way.  I think Chris was a bit mortified.

So anyway (we’re almost done..I promise), we kept walking and finally ended up in Trafalgar square. 


At this point we were starving so we had fish and chips in the nearest restaurant and then went into the square where Chris got this great shot of the fountains.  It’s so pretty there with tons of people hanging out.  We had some fun souvenir shopping in one of the many super cheesy shops. One of them was called “Fancy that from London”.  I love that name!

From here we continued walking up past the West End theater district and into Piccadilly Circus. 


Piccadilly really is like a circus with all the lights, all the people and all the fast moving cars.  It was about 9:30 or 10:00 by the time we got there and this was a Sunday night!  We were finally tired and went back to our room to rest for our tour of the Tower of London the next day (which was today).  So you see, we weren’t being lazy, we were exhausted!

I think even though this isn’t 2 posts it’s long enough to be 2 posts.  It’s after midnight now and I need to get to sleep.  Tomorrow is Windsor Castle and our train leaves early.  Night!


  1. Man I am so jealous! Having just watched the season finale of The Tudors last night,which I'm sure you already saw(cheaters:)), I am so into your trip! Can't wait to see your pics! Glad your having fun and keep taking pics for me! Happy Birthday Ingrid,from me and Troy! Be careful,and again,keep up with the pics! Love ya!

  2. Loved your dialogue today. You are a great story teller. Your telling of Henry VIII makes me want to read the books again. You two look like you are having a dream vacation. You make me very excited about my upcoming trip to France. Maybe you can teach me how to set up a blog. I'll check in tomorrow. Enjoy every moment.

  3. Hello...I know you were on the computer today...Where is the new post??? Don't you realize how many people are reading your every word???



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