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Countries Visited:

Flag of United Kingdom

Flag of Ireland

Flag of Hungary

Flag of Romania


Dates of visit:
October 14, 2002 -
November 15, 2002

We rate this trip a:

Trip Segment
Highlights:

 5 day visit
 Walk London City
 Rainy weather
 Parliament
 Westminster Abbey
 Trafalgar Square
 Tower of London
 Tower Bridge
 View the Queen
 British Museum
 Thames River
 

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Trip Introduction
Our 2002 European Odyssey (part 2) was to experience parts of eastern Europe that is rarely seen by American visitors. In this segment of our trip our intention was to explore London on foot and visiting some well-known treasures. Trip was "off-season" and (supposedly) uncrowded. Weather was not in our favor.
London - That Royal City
In 55 BC, Julius Caesarís Roman army invaded England, landed in Kent and then marched northwest until it reached the broad River Thames at what is now called Southwark. There were a few tribesmen living on the opposite hank hut no major settlement.

However, by the time of the second Roman invasion 88 years later, a small port and mercantile community had been established there. The Romans bridged the river and built their administrative headquarters on the north bank, calling it Londinium - a version of its old Celtic name.

London was soon the largest city in England, and by the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066, it was the obvious choice for the national capital. Settlement slowly spread beyond the original walled city, which was virtually wiped out by the Great Fire of 1666. The post-Fire rebuilding formed the basis of the area we know today as the City, but by the 18th century, London enveloped the settlements around it. These included the royal city of Westminster, which had long been London's religious and political center.

The explosive growth of commerce and industry in the 18th and 19th centuries made London the biggest and wealthiest city in the world. creating a prosperous middle class who built the fine houses that still grace parts of the capital. The prospect of riches also lured many dispossessed from the countryside and from abroad. They moved into unsanitary dwellings, many just east of the City, where clocks provided employment.

By the end of the 19th century, 4.5 million people lived in inner London; another 4 million nearby. Bombing in World War II devastated many central areas and led to rebuilding in the second half of the 20th century, when the clocks and other Victorian industries disappeared.

Sites Visited

Houses of Parliament - Since 1512 the Palace of Westminster has been the seat of the two Houses of Parliament, called the Lords and the Commons. The Commons is made up of elected Members of Parliament (MPs) of different political parties; the party with the most MPs forms the Government, and its leader becomes Prime Minister. MPs from other parties make up the Opposition. Commons' debates can become heated and are impartially chaired by an MP designated as Speaker. The Commons formulates legislation that is first debated in both Houses before becoming law.
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Westminster Abbey - The Abbey is world famous as the resting place of Britain's monarchs and as the setting for coronations and other great pageants. Within its walls can be seen some of the most glorious examples of medieval architecture in London. The Abbey also contains one of the most impressive collections of tombs and monuments in the world. Half national church, half national museum, the abbey occupies a unique place in the British national consciousness.
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Tower of London - For much of its 900-year history, the Tower was an object of fear. Those who had offended the monarch were held within its dank walls. A lucky few lived in comparative comfort, but the majority had to put up with appalling conditions. Many did not get out alive and were tortured before meeting cruelly violent deaths on nearby Tower Hill.
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Tower Bridge - Completed in 1894, this flamboyant piece of Victorian engineering quickly became a symbol of London. Itís pinnacled towers and linking catwalk support the mechanism for raising the roadway when big ships have to pass through, or for special and historic occasions.
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Covent Garden - Once an area of decaying streets and warehouses, Covent Garden came alive only after dark when the fruit and vegetable market traders went about their business. Now it is completely revitalized.
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Globe Theatre - Built on the banks of the Thames, Shakespeare's Globe is an impressive reconstruction of the Elizabethan theater where many of his plays were first performed. The wooden, circular structure is open in the middle, leaving some of the audience exposed to the elements. Those holding seat tickets have a roof over their heads.
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British Museum - The Oldest public museum in the world, the British Museum was established in 1753 to house the collections of the physician Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), who also helped create the Chelsea Physic Garden. Sloane's artifacts have been added to by gifts and purchases from all over the world, and the museum now contains innumerable items stretching from the present day to prehistory. Robert Smirke designed the main part of the building (1823-50), but the architectural highlight is the modern Great Court, with the world-famous Reading Room at its center.
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St. Paul's Cathedral - Following the Great Fire of London in 1666, the medieval cathedral of St. Paul's was left in ruins. The authorities turned to Christopher Wren to rebuild it, but his ideas met with considerable resistance from the conservative, tightfisted Dean and Chapter. Wren's 1672 Great Model plan was not at all popular with them, and so a watered down plan was finally agreed on in 1675. Wren's determination paid off, as can be seen from the grandeur of the present cathedral.
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Buckingham Palace and the Queen - Buckingham palace is both office and home to the British monarchy. It is also used for ceremonial state occasions such as banquets for visiting heads of state. About 300 people work at the palace. These include officers of the Royal Household and domestic staff. John Nash converted the original Buckingham House into a palace for George IV (reigned 1820-30). Both he and his brother, William IV (reigned 1830-07), died before work was completed, and Queen Victoria was the first monarch to live there. For Queen Elizabeth II, who lives there now, the year 2002 marks the golden jubilee of her accession to the throne. The present east front, facing The Mall, was added in 1913. We saw the Queen on her way to the Parliament.
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Trip Gallery - Touring London
Parliament
Parliament Parliament Parliament
Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey
Tower of London
Tower of London Tower of London Tower of London
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge Tower Bridge HMS Belfast
Covent Garden
Covent Garden Covent Garden Covent Garden
Shakespeare's Globe
Globe Theatre Globe Theatre Globe Theatre
British Museum
British Museum British Museum Rosetta Stone
St. Paul Cathedral
St. Paul Cathedral St. Paul Cathedral St. Paul Cathedral
Buckingham Palace & The Queen
The Queen The Queen The Queen
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