England: London (Part 2)

Kensington Palace and Hyde Park

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea of west London and adjoins Hyde Park on the east. It has become an important royal residence since William III acquired the mansion that was originally built as Nottingham House for Earl of Nottingham in 17th century. It was Queen Victoria’s birth place and residence till she became the queen and moved to Buckingham Palace. Not too long ago, it was Princess Diana’s London residence since her marriage to Prince Charles till her tragic death in 1997. The building is expansive and elaborately decorated inside. On display is an exhibit of Royal Fashion dating back to 18th century including many of Princess Diana’s elegant gowns. It was Diana’s appeal that drew me to the palace but we unfortunately missed the Princess Diana’s Memorial Playground situated on the north end of ground. For more info on Kensington Palace, see: http://www.royalparks.org.uk/tourists/dianamemorialwalk.cfm and http://www.hrp.org.uk/kensingtonPalace/. The first site has a great map for Kensington Palace and Hyde Park.

Once an exclusive hunting ground for Henry VIII, Hyde Park has been a public park since Charles I opened it to the general public. The park is an expansive 350 acre, carefully maintained area. We covered only a small part of it on the south west corner. From Kensington Palace, through a delightful, tree lined path, we reached Prince Albert Memorial on Albert Memorial Road and Royal Albert Hall across the street. This site has great info about Hyde Park: http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/hyde_park/

Garden at Kensington Palace

Garden at Kensington Palace

The 18th century Orangery is now a gorgeous Cafeteria

The 18th century Orangery is now a gorgeous Cafeteria

Queen Victoria’s Statue on the east side facing the Round Pond and Hyde Park

Queen Victoria’s Statue on the east side facing the Round Pond and Hyde Park

Prince Albert Memorial and Albert Hall from the park

Prince Albert Memorial and Albert Hall from the park

Prince Albert Statue erected on the center of Prince Albert Memorial

Prince Albert Statue erected on the center of Prince Albert Memorial

Royal Albert Hall (We missed the tours but the short glimpses were enough to reveal the sumptuous interior of Albert Hall.)

Royal Albert Hall (We missed the tours but the short glimpses were enough to reveal the sumptuous interior of Albert Hall.)

Royal College of Music is right across the street from Royal Albert Hall on Prince Consort Road

Royal College of Music is right across the street from Royal Albert Hall on Prince Consort Road

Natural History Museum

From Royal Albert Hall, it is a few minute’s walk to get to Natural History Museum on Cromwell Road and Exhibition Road. Victoria Albert Museum, also on Cromwell Road, is next door to the east and Science Museum sits on the next block on Exhibition Road to the north. All 3 museums are free of admission among other London’s museums that are free. How cool! We reached Natural History Museum first, walked in and were lost in the intriguing and fun collections. When we left Natural History Museum, both Victoria Albert Museum and Science Museum were closed already. For more info on Natural History Museum, see: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/

Natural History Museum entrance   on Cromwell Road

Natural History Museum entrance on Cromwell Road

Central Hall (From Cromwell entrance)

Central Hall (From Cromwell entrance)

Diplodocus Skeleton in Central Hall

Diplodocus Skeleton in Central Hall

Diplodocus Skeleton in Central Hall

Diplodocus Skeleton in Central Hall

Enormous Blue Whale

Enormous Blue Whale

From a 1,300-year-old giant sequoia tree

From a 1,300-year-old giant sequoia tree

Harrods

The famous department store Harrods is on Brompton Road and Hans Court, just a few minutes’ walk from Victoria and Albert Museum eastwards. Harrods is probably the most sumptuously decorated department store I’ve ever seen. The building is imposing and the interior is luxurious. We browsed through part of it and bought some goodies at the food court. See the following site for more: http://www.harrods.com/harrodsstore/

Harrods

Harrods


Largest store of UK and not equaled by any other in the world but Macy’s New York, Harrods was founded by Charles Harrod in 1834 but construction of the present building was started in 1894 and completed 11 years late r in 1905. Harrods was bought by the Fayed family in 1985.
Mouth watering food hall

Mouth watering food hall

I love glass crafts

I love glass crafts

Furniture department

Furniture department

Egyptian flavored décor in the escalator

Egyptian flavored décor in the escalator


Harrods was the first in the world to install an escalator, or moving staircase as it was called then in 1898.
Ceiling of the escalator

Ceiling of the escalator

Notting Hill

After Harrods, we took the underground tube to Notting Hill back in Kensington and Chelsea. I didn’t know more about the area than the little I learnt from the movie named after the area starring Hugh Grant and Julia Robert. It was a Tuesday and just past 6:30pm. We aimlessly rambled through what was a nice, quiet residential neighborhood at the time. On the way out, we sat down for dinner at an Indian restaurant not far from Underground-Notting Hill Gate, where we had gotten off. If I had read this web site and planned better, then I could have seen the famous market: http://www.thehill.co.uk/

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Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square

The underground took us from our hotel to the stop at Green Park on Piccadilly. The plan was to get to Buckingham Palace through Green Park. We, however, walked a few steps eastward on Piccadilly and stopped by Ritz Hotel first. Walked in, scanned the elegant lobby, no idea which way to turn, we decided to check with the man at what seemed the check-in counter and were informed that one needed to make reservation 3 month in advance for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. We left.

As soon as we entered Green Park, rain started to pour heavily down. As we reached Buckingham Palace under the canopy of trees and with the help of our umbrella, the rain stopped as sudden as it came. We did not get to go inside and there was no changing of guard that day.

Following The Mall, we reached world renowned Trafalgar Square. On the north end of the square is National Gallery, another free museum in London. The front of the museum was being repaired and somewhat messy but the collection of paintings inside (over 2,000 pieces) was absolutely rich and ravishing.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham palace

Queen Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham palace

Side gate to the right when facing Buckingham Palace

Side gate to the right when facing Buckingham Palace

The Mall is a long avenue connecting Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar

The Mall is a long avenue connecting Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar

Admiralty Arch at the east end of The Mall makes a grand entrance to Trafalgar Square

Admiralty Arch at the east end of The Mall makes a grand entrance to Trafalgar Square

Base of the Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square

Base of the Nelson’s Column at Trafalgar Square

One of the four lions surrounding the column

One of the four lions surrounding the column

Convent Garden Piazza and Market

Convent Garden Piazza, in the heart of London and adjacent to Royal Opera House on the north east and London Transport Museum on the east, is a fun shopping area, hosting a rich variety of stalls that offer fashion, crafts, souvenirs and goodies and food. The site has a long and interesting story too, see this website for more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covent_Garden

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Greenwich

Greenwich is a district on the south bank of Thames River in south east of London and home to the well known Royal Observatory where the Meridian line is set. It was also once site of Palace Plancentia, royal palace from 15th century, and birth place of many from the House of Tudor including Queen Elizabeth I.

View from peak of Greenwich Park

View from peak of Greenwich Park


On the back ground is the skyline from Canary Wharf on north bank of Thames, on the foreground Queen’s House at the bottom of Greenwich Park and in the middle the buildings of Greenwich Hospital with its pair of turrets. Greenwich hospital was designed to be two separate buildings as wide apart as the width of Queen’s House so Queen’s House can retain the view of Thames. Here is a good website about Greenwich: http://wwp.greenwich2000.com/info/tourism/index.htm.
City of London can been seen further away on the back ground

City of London can been seen further away on the back ground

Royal Observatory sits on top of Greenwich Park

Royal Observatory sits on top of Greenwich Park

24 Hour Clock outside Royal Observatory (an electric magnetic clock built in 1852 by Charles Shepherd) is still working today

24 Hour Clock outside Royal Observatory (an electric magnetic clock built in 1852 by Charles Shepherd) is still working today

A Plaque Mounted on the wall marking the Meridian route on the ground

A Plaque Mounted on the wall marking the Meridian route on the ground

Taking a break at a pub outside the entrance to Greenwich Park

Taking a break at a pub outside the entrance to Greenwich Park


Shandy or Ginger Beer, a half beer and half lemonade mix, was exhilaratingly refreshing after the climb up to the observatory on that warm day
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