Yesterday we toured Westminster Abbey with a guide. I love exploring places on my own, but having a private tour guide is the bomb. Britain's Blue Badge Guides are the best, most knowledgeable guides I've ever seen. There is A LOT of history here, and these guys really know their dates and events. They also know funny, interesting stories and aren't afraid to make jokes at the expense of their (and our) political leadership.
The last time I was at Westminster Abbey, in 1989, I dropped my passport and I spent many hours running around London trying to track it down. It had been turned in to the police, but I had to go to the US Embassy to retrieve it. No such mishaps this time around.
You are not allowed to take photos inside the church, so these shots are from outside or in the cloisters.
Heading to the group tour entrance.
The Cloister Garden
The ten statues above the entrance are 21st Century saints.
Fifth from the left: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
After lunch in Trafalgar Square we headed across the Millennium Bridge to the London Eye. Don't call it a Ferris wheel, though, apparently this is an "observation wheel." The Eye opened in 2000, and was, at the time, the tallest observation wheel in the world.
I love Ferris wheels, so this was one of the things I most wanted to do in London. (I'm sort of hoping my daughter will want to ride when she comes to visit in a couple of weeks, so I can do it again.)
The London Eye takes thirty minutes to make a full revolution and rarely is halted. However, just after we got on, it paused briefly for some decorations and then a wedding party boarded the capsule after ours.
Just as we reached the apex,
the couple getting married were pronounced man and wife.
The Houses of Parliament, with the clock tower that houses Big Ben.
Big BuildToday we headed to East London to the main site of next year's Olympic Games. The Games open on July 27, 2012, so there is a huge push to get everything done. This phase of the Olympic preparations is termed The Big Build. Shawn, the same Blue Badge Guide we had on Sunday, was obviously very proud of how things were shaping up for the Games.
The site of the Olympic Park is a former "industrial wasteland," (his quote) so an incredible amount of clean-up and demolition had to be done before London's Olympic team could start building facilities. One of the hallmarks of this Olympics is sustainability, both in terms of the materials used in the construction and the legacy the Games will leave behind.
The Olympic Site is still a construction zone, with heavy security.
The Olympic Stadium will seat 80,000 people.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit, currently under
construction, will be a 377 ft. observation tower.