London Day 2 – Museums

The breakfast at the hotel wasn’t too bad, though at first they didn’t have the record of us having prepaid. This was quickly sorted though and after checking out we were on our way to Buckingham Palace to start the day.

Buckingham Palace

As there were a few places we wanted to see we started at Hyde Park Corner and worked our way across Green Park taking photographs of Wellington Arch and the surrounding memorials. We then walked along Constitution Hill to the front of Buckingham Palace where we took some photographs of the palace and the Victoria Memorial before continuing down the Mall.

The security in the area was immense and there had been barriers put up everywhere. At first we weren’t entirely sure why, or whether this was just how it is these days. Apparently the following day was when Her Royal Highness, the Queen was scheduled to be opening Parliament.

Admiralty Arch

We did this walk relatively quickly as we wanted to be at the Palace for the changing of the guard ceremony but also wanted to see a few other places. Once passing through Admiralty Arch we spent some time around Trafalgar Square taking photographs of the fountains and Nelson’s Column. As we thought we’d made good time we’d have a quick look around the National Gallery. As we both found it pretty boring this didn’t last long so we headed back out and along Whitehall in the direction of Westminster.

Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery

It’s a fair walk down Whitehall, but we did stop briefly to try and take a photograph of 10 Downing Street, the residence of the Prime Minister. From there we continued on until we reached the Houses of Parliament. After a while we decided the best spot to photograph the Houses of Parliament from would be across the bridge. Whilst we were there a film camera set up next to us and starting videoing the Houses as well.

The Houses of Parliament

For those not familiar with the British Government, the Houses of Parliament is divided primarily into the House of Lords and the House of Commons and together form the Palace of Westminster. The clock tower is known as Elizabeth Tower and houses the famous bell commonly known as Big Ben.

Westminster Abbey

On the way back we stopped by Westminster Abbey as we were in the area. By this time we were cutting it quite close to the time for the changing of the guard and so couldn’t really look around the Abbey properly so had to take a few quick pictures as we went passed.

Unfortunately due to the unfortunate positioning of the sun it wasn’t that easy to get decent photographs so I wandered around until I’d got the sun behind one of the towers and then adjusted the exposure to compensate.

By the time we got back to Buckingham Palace the crowd that had gathered was incredible. I’m not sure if it was because it was a sunny day, or whether it’s always this busy at this time but I’ve never seen such a large crowd in once place before.

Marching Band

We worked our way through the crowd to the gate and managed to get a spot where we could just see the doors. Once there we saw the start of the ceremony and took photographs of what was going on in the courtyard. At this point we then realised that behind us a marching band were working their way down The Mall towards the palace. By the time they reached the Victoria Monument I’d been able to lift my camera high enough to photograph them without getting people’s heads in the foreground. It’s moments like this I wished the Canon EOS 5D mk3 had a swivel screen.

Changing of the Guard

Once we’d turned back around we found we’d lost our position and could no longer see through the gates. After a while we gave up and worked our way to the other side where we found there was a chance of getting photographs from that side. We then stayed there for most of the remainder of the ceremony, but we left before it was done so we could carry on with sightseeing.

Science Museum

For the rest of the day we would be looking around museums, starting with the Science Museum. I know it’s possible to spend a whole day in this museum but as I’d been to it once before (about a decade ago) I knew I wouldn’t need to spend the whole day in there this time.

Lunar Lander and Space Suit

The areas that interested me most was what was dedicated to space exploration. Even though it had been years since I was last there it was only the space section that I remembered well. The largest two items in this section is the BLACK ARROW, a British rocket used for launching satellites into orbit, and an American lunar lander.

Lockheed 10A Electra

The next section then covers transport and even has the famous Rocket built by the great George Stephenson, along with other Locomotive and steam engines. Suspended over this section is a Lockheed 10A Electra, the same model of plane that Amelia Earhart flew for her ill-fated flight.

We also looked around an area called the Chrome Lab which is a project sponsored by Google and uses the Internet for collaboration in different areas. It was an interesting project and probably one of the areas we spent the most time in. The remainder was then covered pretty quickly and by the end of it our camera bags were getting heavy and our feet aching.

Before moving on we stopped to have dinner at the restaurant there. The food isn’t bad but is a little pricey for what it is. I went for the meatballs option and it was certainly tasty. It was also a good chance to relax briefly before moving on to the last place on our itinerary – the Natural History Museum.

The Natural History Museum Interior

The Natural History Museum is easily one of my favourite places in London. Even from an architectural point of view it is a really great building, and it’s perfect for housing the UK’s best collection of skeletons and other pieces of natural history. I feel it would be amazing if it was possible to spend an entire day in the place with unrestricted access to everything; sadly this isn’t possible.

Young Triceratops Skull

It should not come as any surprise that the majority of the time here was spent looking around the dinosaur part. I’d got some very vague memories of having looked around this before and did remember the raised walkway. We did look around pretty much every exhibition except for the mineral ones and by this point we were very tired from the two days of tourism on foot.

Visions of Earth

On the way out we remembered that they had a section of geology where there is a lift up through a model of the Earth to an area where you can walk through an earthquake simulator. Sadly the simulator wasn’t operational that day.

Once done we then headed back to the tube station and went on to St. Pancras where we started our journey home.

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