I can't believe we are on our way home right now.  These ten days have flown by so quickly.

This morning we packed up our bags, arranged for a slightly later check out, and set out for Baker Street.



We hopped off the train and found another talking statue!

https://soundcloud.com/marketplace/sherlock-holmes-the-talking-statue
Click picture to hear Sherlock Holmes speak
We had decided in advance not to take a tour of 221B Baker Street, but to stop by, peruse the shop, and check the ambience. 



A Peek up the stairs
Notice on the door

Right next door to 221B, was the Beatles Store! Of course we waited around until it opened to check it out.


We whet our Beatles appetite at the shop before starting our walk toward Abbey Road.  We started walking the mile or so to get there and saw the statue of St George and the Dragon.


We also didn't realize when we decided to walk over that we would be walking right by Lord's Cricket Grounds just before a match was scheduled.  I've never felt so much like a trout swimming up stream.  There were tons of people, mostly men, dressed in crazy colors (think wild golf pants paired with bright solid colored jackets, and patterned ties in a completely different pattern than the pants).  I didn't have an opportunity to take pictures of any of this as I was trying to get the kids through the shoulder to shoulder crowds and not losing them!

We managed to get past the Underground Station and from there, there weren't any crowds.  We made it to Abbey Road and planned our walk across while we waited our turn.  It is a much more trafficked intersection than I'd envisioned so we needed to get across quickly and between traffic groups.  Chip opted to stand in the center of the small traffic circle, rather than the road (this was a good choice) and snapped a bunch of pictures as we crossed.
Here's the final product
We were quite satisfied with the results! We hiked back to the underground station, which was not as crowded as it had been 20 minutes before, and went back to check out of the hotel.

We grabbed our luggage and walked back to Paddington Station, stopping to appreciate the flowers, roads, and sights on our way.

Wrong color phone box... :)

Getting to Paddington Station
Once we arrived, we returned our Oyster Cards to get our deposit back and found the Paddington Bear statue.


Alas, Paddington doesn't speak.  However, we did come across two other talking statues.

The Soldier
Scan this to hear The Soldier speak
And then there is Isambad Kingdom Brunel


Scan this to here Brumel speak.
We left Paddington on the Heathrow Express and were at the airport in minutes.  We made it through security and into the concourse, stopped for lunch at the pub, and found a quiet area of the airport to sit for a while.  Our gate was a separate waiting room that didn't open until 30 minutes before the plane is set to depart.  There was a giant astro-turf chair that the younger two decided to sit in.




Now we are about to board the flight and head home. And while I am sad to be saying goodbye to Europe, I won't be sad to be home - at least not for a few days!



I can't believe how quickly the days are passing.  This was our last full day in London.

We started out the day with a quick stop in Kensington Gardens to find the Peter Pan statue.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwuTk5mXHXXwZlh5NTlUNGtRUWQyWFNIY1hzTE1RTDVBNkNF
Click on picture to hear statue talk to you.
We also enjoyed the Italian Gardens on our way back out to the Underground stop.


We got off at the St. Pauls Station and walked through the grounds at St. Paul's Cathedral.


And across Millennium Bridge




Stopping mid-way across to enjoy the view...


before continuing on to Shakespeare's Globe Theater.  You can read a quick history of the theater here. In order to see the theater, you must be part of a guided tour.  Our tour guide was quirky and fun, offering up interesting tidbits and making us relive the Globe of Shakespeare's times.

The theater is still a working theater, so the stage is set with minimal scenery in the colors chosen by the director of the current play.


The audience can purchase a set under the thatched roof (which is now fireproof),



sit in a more luxury box,



or stand out in the elements for the duration of the play.

Note the ceiling on the stage. It represents all seasons and times of day. 


We spent a few minutes before our tour at the exhibition inside and had hoped to return afterward, but had to hoof it to make it to Buckingham Palace in time to see the changing of the guard.


We ended up seeing the parade, but not much of the ceremony.  There were just way too many people there.


We left the crowd behind and walked through St James Park, stopping for some pictures on the bridge.




Look kids!  Big Ben.  Parliament.



We hung out in Parliament Square for a few minutes before venturing over to Methodist Central Hall for a quick bite to eat in the Wesley Cafe.  It was a nice quiet place to eat with a wide selection of foods.

After lunch, we headed across the street to the Westminster Cathedral. There was a piper out front and I really enjoyed listening to his music!

Great West Door and Towers


No photographs are allowed within the Sanctuary of the Abbey.  They have posted some on their website and I would highly encourage you to view them and listen to the audio commentary if you are interested in the history of the Abbey.  Seventeen Monarchs, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, Henry Purcell, Georg Fredrick Handel are some of those entombed inside the Abbey.  Many others are memorialized.  It has been the coronation church since William the Conquerer and was most recently viewed during Prince William and Kate's wedding.

Once you leave the main portion of the Abbey, you are allowed to take photographs.

View down the side of the cloister
The Cloisters, looking back toward the West Towers
 
Chapter House at Westminster Abbey
11th Century - Pyx Chamber
The College Gardens were open while we were there so we took a few minutes to check those out.


After visiting the Abbey, we walked by Westminster Palace and across the Westminster Bridge, which was almost as crowded as Buckingham Palace had been earlier!  We made it across and headed over to the London Eye Pier, to catch our River Tour.

Westminster Bridge
Boat Tour (photo by Ebabe)
Top of the Royal Air Force Memorial
Golden Jubilee Bridge
Cleopatra's Needle
Columns on Blackfriar's Bridge - one side has birds from the sea
And the other has birds from freshwater
Millennium Bridge
Shakespeare's Globe
Not falling down...
HMS Belfast
Tower of London (note water entrance for Traitor's Gate)
Tower Bridge
Golden Hinde
Coca-Cola London Eye
After our boat ride, we got in line for the London Eye.  Our wait time was about 90 minutes, but it didn't feel that long. The London Eye is not a ferris wheel. There is only one arm supporting the wheel.  Each pod is a separate motorized compartment that rotate along with the main body to keep the pods upright at each location.  It does not stop except for times required for handicapped riders, so you board and disembark while the wheel is in motion.


Interior of pod
Jubilee Bridge
Artsy Picture
Big Ben & Parliament :)
Buckingham Palace in the distance, viewed from the Eye
Panoramic from the very top of the London Eye


After our "uplifting" experience, we grabbed some fish & chips.



Then took a quick jaunt over to Piccadilly Circus to check in out.
Advertising everywhere, just like Times Square in NYC


Now we're back at the hotel for some packing up and sleeping!