London Day 5 – Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Itinerary: Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Buckingham Palace.

I am so behind with getting these ten days in London posted. Continuing on!

After breakfast we purchased our tickets for Buckingham Palace online. The morning time slots were booked and the next available one was for 3:30. We had to rearrange our plans a bit.

First we went to Trafalgar Square to see the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. Yay for free museums!!

Trafalgar Square is turning into Times Square with the ridiculous characters. I saw a Mickey and Minnie Mouse soliciting for tips to take photos with tourists. I don’t get it in Times Square and I especially don’t get it in Trafalgar Square. There were also people costumed as Yoda or the Grim Reaper. They looked like they were suspended in air but were really sitting in a harness that was hidden by a long robe.

There were also chalk artists who drew some really cool sketches. On this day I saw someone drawing Watto from The Phantom Menace. The previous Friday I saw an artist drawing Jim Morrison. I would have taken photos except I wasn’t sure if I had to pay for one and I didn’t want to pay a single pence.

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I love that in the National Gallery you can take photos. With a limited amount of time we could only see the highlights of the museum and so we followed the suggestions in my travel book. There was a section with a map of the National Gallery and where to find certain works of art.

We saw Botticelli’s Venus and Mars

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Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait.

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 I remember learning about this painting in Art History and it was mesmerizing to see the details in person. 

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A self portrait of Rembrandt at age 34.

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In the East Wing we saw the works of the Impressionists. I loved seeing the works of Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and others.

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Around the corner at the National Portrait Gallery we were not allowed to take photos. 😦 We saw portraits from the Tudor era. An English woman mistakenly told her son that the portrait of Mary I was Mary Queen of Scots. Even we Americans knew she was wrong! Victoria had the strongest urge to correct her.

In the contemporary section we were looking for Daniel Radcliffe’s portrait. Victoria read that he’s the youngest man to have his portrait in the NPG. An employee we spoke didn’t seem to know of it and said his painting was not on display at the moment.

We did see the portraits of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Ian McKellen, and Kate Middleton. The artist really did make Kate look older than she is.

Making our way to Buckingham Palace we stopped for a snack in St. James Park. I really needed the rest too. My legs, shoulder, and lower back were killing me.

We still had some time before our ticketed timed slot so we took lots of photos. I will only post these:

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Going into the palace is like airport security. You put your belongings in an x-ray machine and then you walk through a metal detector. On the queue there was a family in front of us with three children under four, one of them a newborn. A NEWBORN INFANT. Why travel with a newborn? Why bring your newborn to a tour of Buckingham Palace?

The newborn was in a baby carrier, which of course had to go through the x-ray machine. The grandpa, who was carrying the baby, asked the mother, “Take the baby out?” He asked a few times before the mother said yes.

Now I am going to give the grandpa the benefit of the doubt and say he thought he’d walk through the metal detector while holding the carrier with the baby strapped in. I hope he didn’t think he would put the carrier inside the x-ray machine with the baby still strapped in.

Just that fact that he asked several times before he got an answer made the four of us laugh. “Take the baby out?” became an inside joke.

Luckily we were able to move ahead of them and start the self-audio guided tour.
Ok, so no photos allowed 😦 so I’ll give some highlights.

There was the Throne Room. Besides the obvious thrones, there were wedding photos taken in that room of William and Kate, Charles and Diana, and Andrew and Sarah.

The Picture Gallery had many great works of art, including several by Rembrandt.
The Music Room is where Prince William, and his son Prince George, were baptized.

In the White Drawing Room there was a doorway to a hidden passage!! When facing the fireplace it is on the left, disguised as a large mirror with a bureau in front. The doorway leads to the Queen’s private quarters. She’ll come through to meet dignitaries and such, and her guests having seen her just appear will not know how she arrived so fast.

In the Royal Childhood Exhibition there were lots of clothes, blankets, toys, and photographs spanning from Elizabeth II to Prince George.
-There was a blanket on display and the embroidery said it was from Mr. and Mrs. Obama to George.
-There was a really nice, old-fashion kitchen set that belonged to Elizabeth II and her sister.
-There was even a small little trailer with a kitchen inside. That made me laugh. As if any of the royals would ever live in a trailer home.

The photographs were nice and gave the family a more relaxed and human feel.

One annoying thing about the tour was that no one moves along. Especially where the clothes were on display in the Royal Childhood exhibit. People would stand there forever, just staring. I would be done looking and reading the descriptions and then be stuck in a crowd of people not ready to move on. It was like they were committing every button to memory. It was infuriating. Some exhibits should have conveyer belts for people to stand on.

After a stop in the gift shop, and the restrooms, we sat on the benches in the garden for a while. 

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Not only were my feet, legs, and lower back killing me, I was getting a cold. My throat hurt and my nose was stuffy. Daniela also had a cold. The pharmacy we found near our hotel was already closed. So we had to wait till the morning to buy cold medicine and cough drops. Pharmacies are like a needle in a haystack in London. I barely saw any.

We had dinner near Westminster Abbey. I had a chicken sandwich and chips. No matter where we ate, the fried potatoes were delicious.

I originally wanted to go to Covent Garden and the SoHo area, but decided to call it a night to get some rest. We never did get to see Covent Garden, so next time.

Westminster Abbey at sunset.

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