Day 3: Save the Clock Tower
Thanks to the time-space continuum, this current trip blog is about the FUTURE (because London is 6 hours ahead of Chicago, duh). But buckle up! Today’s blog entry is also about BACK TO THE FUTURE — the new award-winning musical we saw in West End tonight. These photo captions are about to get heavy!!!
With some key sights in mind, we charted the course for the day. Taking the tube to Waterloo, we strolled along the Queen’s Walk, where the London Eye is located, and enjoyed a nice view over the River Thames.
We continued walking along the Westminster Bridge and got a close up view of Big Ben. Big Ben is technically the nickname for the big bell of the clock, but has become the common name of the clock tower itself. It was technically renamed to Elizabeth Tower in 2012 in honor of The Queen’s diamond jubilee (60 years on the throne), but continues to be referred to as its nickname. Big Ben is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, continuing our tradition of seeing at least one each trip. Although Big Ben has been under restoration since 2017, we were able to see it without scaffolding. I highly recommend the Big Ben twitter.
A short walk from Big Ben was Westminster Abbey (and no, none of us were Westminster crabby), which is another World Heritage Site, and another nickname. The full name is Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, but that doesn’t quite flow off the tongue. It has been the coronation church since 1066. However, the construction of church we see today was started by Henry III in 1245. This church is unique in that it is inclusive and belongs to the monarchy of the country rather than a bishop or diocese. Also, pretty much everything about it in The Da Vinci Code is wrong.
From Westminster, we made our way to Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth was not there, as indicated by the Union flag on top of the palace instead of the Royal Standard. The statue in front of the Palace is the main monument of The Queen Victoria Memorial, which also includes the Dominion Gates and the Memorial Gardens, all protected landmarks. We didn’t see the changing of the guard, but we did see the changing of a gate lock.
We walked along The Mall and through St. James Park, which was originally swamp land that was drained to make the park in 1603. It is home to many birds, and houses Duck Island Cottage, which has become the headquarters for the London Parks and Garden Trust. Continuing our journey north, we walked past 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s house. Unfortunately, it was blocked off and inaccessible, but who really cares? More importantly, we found a great pub a few doors up the street.
The Horse and Guardsman advertised craft beers and labeled itself a traditional British pub. It did not disappoint and was the perfect place for dinner. We ordered Rivertown Beers (a brewery 45 minutes outside of London) and fish n’ chips.
After refueling, we walked just up the street to Trafalgar Square. While the majority of the square features fountains, memorials, and statues from the 1800’s, one corner rotates contemporary art. Just west of a granite and bronze statue of King George IV installed in 1843 lies a giant ice cream scoop with a cherry on top, a drone on one side, and a fly on the other.
We weren’t slackers and eventually made it to the main event of the day – the Back to the Future musical! It was a lot of fun, and we all enjoyed the adaptation from the film. The show also had a great lobby with shops and props in theme with the production. Fun Fact: London theaters sell frozen malt cups in the aisles during intermission. We may have to try one next time.