Sunday, November 23, 2008

London Day 2

Read about Day 0 and Day 1.

We wanted to watch the Change of Guards ceremony at Buckingham palace. It takes place at 11 AM on alternate days. When we asked the reception at hotel, there was a confusion on which days and we ended up going to the Buckingham Palace twice. Anyhow, the change of guards was a bust, at least for me because I could not see *anything*. The crowd was thick around the gates and I just got out of there to get some air.

We're going out of order a bit to show Change of Guards pictures from Day 3.

After I got out of the crowd, the horse guards came from behind the palace and I was able to see them up close so that was nice.

There is a nice park right next to the palace, St. James Park. That gate in the picture above is an entrance to it. We spent some time there while returning. There is a lake with duck island that houses many different kinds of ducks.

A really old tree on crutches.

Tower of London

I love London. I love how easy it is for a tourist to get to all the attractions without needing cabs. The tube network is great. At this point, we were debating getting one of the open top bus tours, but eventually decided against it. They would work great for someone who is short on time and needs to see London in less than 2 days. We wanted to go at our own speed and we had the time.
So after Buckingham, we went to the Tower of London. It is a Fort, originally built in 11th century. It houses the Crown Jewels, including Kohinoor - The diamond with a bloody history - 'gifted' by Indian Emperor to Britain. Indians tell a different story however ;) They don't let you take pictures of the Jewels. Bummer.

The ravens at the tower. Legends say they are the protectors of the Tower.

Lots of ammo displayed

I laughed at this picture when I saw it. This guy was in such a hurry he didn't stop when I was taking the picture. Nothing unusual, but the pic captured his motion and the fact he was LOOKING at me while ruining my shot.

Girish and Mehul are standing behind the guy in above photo. I got it finally.

Madame Tussad's Wax Museum

Few of my good friends -
Miley Cyrus

Julia Roberts


Amitabh Bacchan

Aishwarya Rai

Whoopi Goldberg

Tudor King. He didn't approve of my outfit.

There were many more include Speilberg, Charlie Chaplin, Gandhi, the Royal family, Bush, etc. but I don't have the patience to resize all those!

Next, we took the bus to go to Harrods. It is one heck of a Department Store. Poor people like me don't shop there but it was fun to look at the stuff. The Shoes! Too bad I didn't have an extra $2000 to spend on them.

That rounded off the evening. Again, a long day. Took the tube to go back to the hotel and crashed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Turning 32 and Henna answers

Sorry for ignoring the Henna questions! I read them and made a mental note to answer and then forgot. Oops. It was applied by professionals, not by me or any family though in a pinch I've done it myself before. Usually in Delhi markets, you'll find a bunch of youngish guys (18-25 yr olds) sitting along sidewalks, with Henna cones and some albums of their work to flip through. I should have taken a picture or better, a video, but it is such a natural thing for me, I didn't think of it! It took 2 guys, 20 minutes total for both hands, and $2. The $2 (Rs.100) is expensive by daily standards because I got it on KarwaChowth, a festival where Henna is a must for married women keeping the fast. Usually it is Rs.50 total for both hands. It lasts for 15 days, though it starts fading away after 2-3 days. When you first remove it after applying, do not wash hands in water if you want it to give a better color. After removing the paste, you let it sit overnight. The rougher your hands are, the better color you'll get. My hands are soft so I have to suffer through questions about my MIL not loving me all that much. Old wives tale - if DIL's henna is lighter, MIL does not love her. Not really true in my case :)

I turn 32 today. I had to work because I'm out of all vacation time. Rather, I'm in negative. Hubby promised to take me out to lunch, if my lunch buddies don't. IF they do, we'll do something else for tonight. Movie is out since we just already watched Madagascar 2 on Saturday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

London Day One (contd..)

Read Day Zero here. We went to visit the London Eye as everyone had said it is not to be missed. Got there and found long queue to get the passes and then to enter the ride. Turned out, if we bought the combined ticket for this and Madame Tussad's Wax Museum, we'd skip the line for buying passes. We had Tussads on our list anyways so we bought the combined pass and went straight on the ride. The London eye moves slowly to give you aerial view of London.

Looking from across the Thames River

Near the Eye

Inside the eye

Aerial View of Thames River

Other side

Hungry yet? We were, so after this we ate at McDonald's near the Eye. After that, we continued on the Westmister Abby. Everything in this area is so close and yet so far on foot!

On the bridge

Big Ben

(partial) House of Parliament

Westminster Church

We didn't go inside as it closed at 3PM.

Backside of the church that I loved and Girish hated

House of Parliament

Another shot I love

Girish wanted to capture us in front of the bus - we waited here for like 5 minutes trying to get a good shot! We got it eventually.

Tired after all this walking

A Rickshaw! Another reminder of India

After this, we went to Trafalgar Square - on the bus instead of getting the tube so that Mehul can finally ride in it.

Trafalgar Square

The big column

The Big Lion

The whatever they are

Some fun

OMG! The pigeons have been replaced by PEOPLE

I wanted some coffee but the cafe at Trafalgar Square closed right when we wanted to enter. So we explored one of the streets next to it.

We wanted to go back to The Eye and get some night-shots. We had seen from our room the previous night that The Eye turns blue at night and didn't want to miss it. This time, however, we took the tube to go back to Westminster.

The London Eye

The Big Ben

Mehul was looking tired by now.

I ruined the shot by standing in front LOL

House of Parliament and Big Ben.

On the other side of the river

Mehul woke up!

It was a long day. Went back, picked up some chinese food on the way and slept really well.