Warning - loads of photos, get your coffee/tea first.
Hope everyone is having a great weekend! I had promised this last week that it would be up in a few days, well as per normal I got sidetracked ;-) Crazy week going back to work after being away for 2 weeks and it made for a few rather long days in the office getting my feet back under me. Mid-week we were off to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Now that was a show I would have loved to have had a camera at. For anyone who has never seen their Christmas concert I highly recommend it. One of the most amazing stage and light shows I have ever seen and the audio is outstanding.
So anyhow, back to London. I had taken the red-eye flight into Heathrow from Ottawa so the goal is to stay up for the entire day so you can sleep good the next night and get yourself properly into the time zone. I had done this a few years ago with others and their solution, which worked really well for me, was to do a whirlwind tour of London. With the other 2 of my party in tow these pictures show the tour. I was fortunate as I had gotten 4-5 hours of sleep on the plane, my companions had not so they were hurting ;-)
Click the images for a larger size.
St James Park. We didn't do much exploring as it in itself could take a day but we took the main path through and looked at many of the birds that live alongside this lake in the middle of London. Found ourselves a food stand and had a coffee (excuse me, an Cafe Americano) and a bite to eat. Someday when I have a few days in London I really want to explore St James and Hyde Park. Lots to see and lots of history.
Buckingham Palace! What more can be said? A pretty amazing place.
Peaking through the gates you can get a better view. See the foot guards left and right.
and yes, the gate has a keylock. I found this really cool ;-)
I also took a few pictures of the Victoria Memorial but it's currently covered with scaffolding as it's being repaired or restored, so I won't bother posting them.
Canada Gate which is the entrance to Green Park. It really stands out with a very beautiful park behind it. The coat of arms of several of the provinces are on the pillars and I noted that Newfoundland had been added latter. I didn't prove if every province is represented on the fence but I believe they are ;-)
Green Park behind Canada Gate
The "tour" then continued with a walk down The Mall. With all the traffic, no leaves and no flags flying it didn't really look as regal as on TV ;-) but it was kinda cool. At the end you come to Admiralty Arch before entering Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square! There were soooo many people running around and traffic everywhere, trying to take pictures was taking your life in your hands. On the Wikipedia link and Google earth there are some really good panoramic pictures of the square. Would love to get back here at night with little traffic and try shooting this great spot.
National Gallery. The park in front was a ZOO! There was some kind of protest going on. Not the occupy stuff but it seemed to be the Communist party and they were screaming into bullhorns and making quite the racket. Above is a pool with the National Gallery in the background. The big clock is their Olympic countdown clock.
Standing on the steps of the National Gallery looking back at Trafalgar Square and the Olympic Clock.
At this point I had one of the negative experiences of London. We waded through the people into the Gallery which is open to the public. I didn't see any signs anywhere saying that photography was forbidden. I had absolutely no interest in the paintings, in fact I found them rather boring, but what did impress me was the architecture of the building. I raised my camera to take a non-flash picture of the doomed sky light and an art nazi jumped me. This old geezer physically grabbed me and freaked at me. There was no sense in arguing or pointing out that I had not interest in taking a pictures of the paintings. In my opinion anything that is a National Gallery belongs to the people, not a bunch of art snobs who take care of the gallery. It was followed up by yet another art snob suddenly freaking cause she couldn't find a particular painting. I decided at that point I was probably better suited outside with the protesting communists then the art snobs inside. Time to move on! hahaha
Westminster Palace as seen from the Thames River.
Numerous sites to see as you move up the river but none is more fascinating as coming up on Tower Bridge.
We got off the tour boat at Tower Bridge and wondered along the walk ways beside the Tower of London but given the late time of the day going inside for a tour was out of the question.
Tower Bridge is a sight to behold when the darkness kicks in
I'm guessing this is the architecture that Prince Charles is so freaked about. Can't say that I like seeing all the modern style buildings starting to dominate the London Skyline but it does look pretty cool at night.
We grabbed the last boat of the day returning to Westminster. This time I was rewarded with the same boat I'd had on my previous visit and the commentator was back! As before he gave a wonderfully funny account and history lesson as we headed back down (or is it up) the river. I know at the end he got a few pounds thrown into the bucket for the great tour. Above is one of the numerous bridges along the route, this one lite up red, the name escapes me ;-)
OXO Tower was built in the late 1800's they put windows inside that had the OXO shape. At night when a light was lit inside, there was OXO for all to see - a nice slide around the advertising ban. Apparently is was a very contentious topic for many years, in the end the OXO stayed.
The London Eye lit up at night
Westminster Palace. I wish I would have had more time to get the exposure right but the boat was moving and had to grab the shot. Thus the washed out clock.
I thought this was cool, being able to see both Big Ben and the London Eye all in one shot. My 17-50mm Tamron was stretched to the limit but what a great job this lens did for me.
The London Eye
By this time my companions (and I) were exhausted. Back on the tube to the hotel, supper and a beer followed by 12 glorious hours of sleep to break the time zone change curse. That folks is how to tour London in around 5 hours by foot. I would say the entire trip cost around 20 pounds with tube and boat tickets. Naturally we couldn't see everything that we'd like to see but I can't think of a better way to stay awake for a day, get some great photos and have fun doing it on the cheap ;-)
I can't say enough for my Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 lens. All the pictures in this post, most of the Stonehenge post and all the pictures in the Bath post were taken with this lens. It has become my prime walk around lens. It deals with the low light conditions I experiences, amazing clarity and sharpness and the colours were accurate throughout. Almost no distortion, even at 17mm's. These can still be found on e-bay for around $400.00 cdn (stay away from Henry's on this one, there is a Canadian dealer on e-bay who is good and over 100 less in price) Considering the cost of a similar Nikon lens that is just a hair better, this is a great lens folks. My poor old D200 is getting a bit long in the tooth when compared to what's out there today but it continue to be a trouper during this trip.
That pretty much ends my photos from the trip to the UK. Thanks for all the comments and hope everyone enjoyed them!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.