Heh… In case you have not guessed it from yesterday, I’m going to write about London. This will be the last group of blog posts I do on my time in the UK in 2007.
To be honest, I almost did not want to write about this capital city of the UK. In fact, I might still regret doing it. You see, unlike the other cities, I am 120% sure that London has changed A LOT since 2007. Especially after the Olympics in
2008 2012. I’m not sure if what I show here would still be relevant as of today or not. I mean, I know, this is my blog, I can write what I want, but I thought I should try my best to write only about places that still exist today, at time of writing.
So that’s what I will do. I will only write about tourist attractions that I’m sure is still there as we speak. And it will only be tourist attractions. We were conventional tourists when we were in London. We ONLY hit the tourist attractions. We had no time for the back alleys and hidden nooks and crannies.
I guess we’ll see what happens as we progress through the posts…
The first place I want to write about is (I think) probably the most famous tourist attraction in London, the Buckingham Palace.
In case you do not know, the Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the British monarch. You can say our Istana Negara is the Malaysian equivalent of this palace.
This was the most crowded place that we have visited during our stint in London. It was bad enough that it was also the only place that we had to visit two times. TWO TIMES. Because the first morning we came, we could hardly get a peek inside the palace gates.
So we came much earlier the next morning. I think we made the right decision, because this time we got to see some marching procession by fancy uniformed brigades. I’m not sure if this is their daily change of guards routine, or if it was something that only happens on special occasion. I think we lucked out on our second visit.
I was impressed to see police on horseback doing crowd control…
But I got even more impressed when I got to see up close, a cavalry squad marching down the street, into the palace. They looked very different from the Malay cavalry regiment, and very cool in their own way.
When I said we lucked out, I mean us guys lucked out. You see, the girls were actually not interested with the cavalry or the change of guards. They were more interested to stalk Prince William and Prince Harry. In 2007 Prince William was still a bachelor and both the princes were still stunningly handsome if you know what I mean. But on both days they had no such luck to catch any glimpse of the princes being out and about. Actually they were both not even in England at that time.
Let’s move on from the palace. Buckingham Palace is located in an area called Westminster, and the palace is not the only attraction this area has to offer. A short walk down the street and we found ourselves facing another very famous building.
Westminster Abbey is probably the most famous church in the UK. This is where the coronation and royal weddings take place since almost 1000 years ago. Yes, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s marriage took place here too. This is also the burial site for the British royalty and many famous persons throughout the ages.
If you have read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, you probably recognize this place. Yes, this is where Sir Isaac Newton was interred (buried). This is where Robert Langdon deciphered the last piece of the Priory of Sion puzzle.
It was too bad because we did not get to go inside for a look. We arrived at a time when they seemed to be having some sort of a service or something. People were queuing up to go in for prayers. I think we would’ve been allowed to go in anyway, but it would be a bad idea to snap photos here and there when people are doing their prayers, wouldn’t it? To make matters worse, the entrance was not free of charge. It was £9 (that was in 2007, I don’t know what’s the admission fee now).
Paying £9 to go into a church to watch a mass prayer seemed like a pretty bad idea, so we did the only sensible thing. We just took photos outside, and left.
On our way to the next destination, we walked pass the Parliament Square and saw these…
It was an interesting sight for us. In 2007, public demonstrations were still a foreign idea to us Malaysians, laced with terrifying threats and unspeakable danger. So to see a public square where people are allowed to set up camp and do whatever it is they wanted to do, without being harassed by the authorities, was both unsettling and interesting to us.
Another 50 meters down the street from Parliament Square and we have arrived at our next destination. Another world famous building, or rather, world famous tower. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Big Ben!
This Big Ben is actually attached to a bigger building. I believe most people think the Big Ben refers to the entire building. Wrong! Big Ben is just the clock tower. The entire building complex is called the Palace of Westminster. This palace houses the parliament of the United Kingdom (both House of Commons and House of Lords). It is where the most important decisions affecting the country are made.
It is also the de facto introductory backdrop for any Hollywood movies (any non-British movies actually) with scenes involving London.
I guess it makes sense. This building is the most iconic looking landmark for London. When you see that Big Ben, you will confirm sure it is London. Not even Buckingham Palace or Westminster Abbey could has that confirm sure effect.
Because it is so iconic, it deserves to be the ending for my first post on London. Here, I’ll give you another shot on how the Palace of Westminster and the Big Ben looks like during sunset. We came back in the evening just for this view.
Lovely, isn’t it?
Trivia: Confirm sure – Malaysian way of saying confirmed beyond a single shred of doubt. More confirmed than confirmed, you know…