Europe By Rail Day 1 : London Part 2 – Buckingham Palace, Changing the Guard, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery
It was cold and wet as we navigated our way to easyHotel Victoria. We deposited our bags at the hotel and then it was off to Buckingham Palace. Thankfully, the weather took a turn for the better and it got nice and sunny when we arrived at Buck Palace.
Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of The Queen. We took a leisurely 15 minute to the palace from our hotel which was close to Victoria station. Buckingham Palace is located adjacent to St James’s Park and The Green Park, near Hyde Park. Tube stops close to Buckingham Palace are Victoria, St. James’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park Corner. For £17, you can check out the State Rooms at Her Majesty’s crib (The Royal Collection).
Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Changing of the Guard or Guard Mounting is one of the most familiar ceremonies associated with Buckingham Palace. In this ceremony a new guard handovers duty with the old guard accompanied by the music played by a Guards band. At Buckingham Palace, Guard Mounting takes place at 11.30 am. It is held daily from May to July, and on alternate dates throughout the rest of the year. (Buckingham Palace Changing of Guard days). There is no Guard Mounting in very wet weather.
A large crowd had gathered at the palace surrounds when we got there at about 11.15. Bobbies wearing helmets and fluorescent jackets were going “Move along..move along” to the crowd ala an Obi-Wan Kenobi-ed Stormtrooper. Although on the official website states that the guard change happens at 11.30am, there was quite a bit happening before that.
We managed to find a spot to get a view of the ceremony at Victoria Memorial, a marble and gold sculpture directly in front of the palace gates. There was marching, men on horses and a military band performance.
After the Guard Mounting we took a walk to St. James’s Park which looked beautiful in its colorful spring splendor.
We passed by a guard post at Stable Yard Road and got a close up look at a couple of guards in action. There wasn’t much action going on though because they were a bit guarded in their actions. *joke* ^_^
Deciding that we were in need of a London map and we proceeded to find the tourist information office. We got into what we thought was a London Tourist Office, except it was really a bus tour operator. We got an attractions map (not a proper map) from them which helped a bit in navigation, but only a bit.
Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery
The National Gallery at Trafalgar Square houses collections of more than 2300 Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is on show 361 days a year, free of charge. Some notable works of art showcased there include: Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Bathers at Asnières by Georges-Pierre Seurat and Johannes Vermeer’s Lady Standing at a Virginal. Opening hours: daily 10am–6pm, Fridays 10am–9pm (closed on 1 January and 24-26 December). Nearest tube: Charing Cross on Northern and Bakerloo Lines, Leicester Square on Northern and Piccadilly Lines How to get to the National Gallery.
Our First Meal
Our first meal in London consisted of sandwiches from Pret A Manger which we ate surreptitiously at Trafalgar Square with the backdrop of the imposing National Gallery playing host to a flock of pigeons at her footsteps.
There are many Pret a Manger and Eat sandwich shops all over central London, providing an affordable and convenient meal option. I had the Posh Cheese sandwich (£2.99), which consisted of mature cheddar and pickle on a baguette and it was surprisingly good!