Saturday, July 4, 2015

London Day 4: No goes, Parliament, Sekara again

England Day 9

London Day 4:  On today's agenda: the British Museum (11am tour), National Portrait Gallery for the Audrey Hepburn Exhibit, National Gallery for the Impressionists, Parliament tour, and the Ceremony of the Keys.

Husband woke up and said he was a no go because his foot was hurting something terrible.  And it must have been because he's not one to complain.  So we ditched the British Museum (husband and I had been there in 2011). Nephew wanted to go to the National Portrait Galley to get an Audrey Hepburn poster and I wanted to see the Exhibit focused on her life.  She is one of my favorite people.  She was a lovely actress and a wonderful human being.  I also wanted to see the Impressionist Rooms at the National Gallery.

It was not Sahara Desert hot today so we braved the bus to Trafalgar Square.  We chatted with a nice local Indian family on the bus.  They were on their way to Chinatown. I told them how excited I was for the Parliament Tour later on and they had never done it or even considered doing it.  I told them they could get a tour, for free, through their MP.
We entered the National Portrait Gallery and were immediately disappointed because the Audrey Hepburn exhibit was sold out for the day.  They had some slots for Sunday but we would not be able to return.  I was seriously sad.  We spent some time in the gift shop so nephew could get his poster and I bought one too.  He knows nothing about Audrey Hepburn except that she was beautiful.  Her poster will hang in his college apartment with the others he collected on the trip:  Jimmi Hendricks, Winston Churchill, Keep Calm and Carry On, and Bob Marley.  What a mixture!

We walked over to the National Gallery and there was no "Industrial Action" today.  The Impressionist collection is wonderful.  I loved every painting! Nephew sat on one of the benches and was bored.  We perused a few other rooms on the way out and I really look forward to spending more time here on a future visit.  We bought a few things in the gift shop and left.


Pretty sure this was a Sisley 

We walked over to St. Martin in the Fields to look at the church and possibly have lunch.  The church is very plain but sweet.  Nephew decided nothing appealed in the cafeteria so we made our way back to the apartment via tube.  Weirdly, as we exited there was husband!  He was looking for an ATM, not us.  He found us but not an ATM!  We all walked to the nearby Marks & Spencer and got sandwiches and drinks for our lunch.
St. Martin in the Fields from the National Gallery

Simple but pretty inside

We relaxed at the apartment until it was time for the Parliament Tour (4:15).  We took the tube to Westminster and came out to a beautiful warm, but not oppressive, late afternoon and masses of people everywhere.  It was so crowded, none of us enjoyed the walk to the Houses of Parliament entrance.

Westminster Hall
We had a little time before the tour so visited the gift shop, looked around the gorgeous Westminster Hall and waited.  Our guide, David, was fantastic.  Funny, engaging and knowledgeable.  Husband and I took this tour in 2011 and thought it was great then but this time was even better.  It's beautiful building, new by London standards, that is apparently crumbling.  David said they are considering closing these Houses and relocating Parliament.  I guess everyone who works in these building will be happy if that happens but it's sad to think of these buildings being shuttered.

Final questions for our guide
Christmas card pic :)
Iconic London shot
We walked across the river toward the London Eye.  I really wanted to go on it but was overruled by husband and nephew--they didn't want to wait in line (which was really short, actually).  I told husband that the next time we come to London, no excuses, we're going on the Eye (he agreed, probably to shut me up, lol).  We walked along the river and stopped a few minutes to watch a  busker.

I told husband and nephew that we had 930pm tickets for the Ceremony of the Keys.  Husband was not enthusiastic about trekking out to the Tower of London because his foot was still hurting.  Nephew didn't care.  I knew it would be something we'd regret not doing.  We decided to go for dinner at Sekara (again, yay) and decide once we'd eaten.

We tubed it back to Victoria and went directly to Sekara.  We ordered Biryani again, vegetable eggs rolls, and a mutton dish that was recommended by one of the waitresses.  The Biryani and egg rolls were spectacular.  The guys liked but did not love the mutton dish.  Overall, another great dinner at Sekara.

By now it was 915pm.  We obviously did not go to the Ceremony of the Keys.  Dropped off nephew at the apartment and went to the nearest pub (the decidedly not cozy Phoenix) for a nightcap.  The pub was decorated for the 4th of July which was a nice touch.

In some ways today was disappointing day because of all the no goes.  I told husband it just means there's another trip to London in our future. He agreed!

Next:  Our last day, rain, Greenwich with a Greeter, pub meet

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