England: London(Part 1)

Big Ben and House of Parliament from London Eye

Big Ben and House of Parliament from London Eye

Engaged in Jan, married three month later, honeymooned in Jun, renovated the lake house and moved into it in Nov, 2005 was an unsurpassed year in many ways. As I reminisce, all details that had become fuzzy are coming back… Especially the wedding, the planning, organizing, directing, tracking, designing, shopping, decorating, searching for a reception venue and wedding photographer for photos and videos, finding the string quintet for the ceremony and the DJ for the reception, directing the rehearsal the day before the wedding and then directing the wedding and being the bride all at the same time on my own wedding day… How I, almost singlehandedly, put together smoothly our beautiful wedding in three month’s time, with an average budget, seems mind boggling now.

The honeymoon however was the easiest part. A sale to London from American Airline and a hotel in London sponsored by my in-laws quickly lured me away from my original plan of going to Athens and Santorini Island of Greece. My husband and I had a fantastic time visiting London and several towns in its vicinity during our 9 days and 8 nights vacation. As it turned out, we luckily missed the typical rainy and grey England days while we were there; the way our guide at The Roman Bath in Bath put it: “We’ve never had so much sunshine, it is scary”. I enjoyed the grandeur and splendor of London exceedingly but England’s lush country side enchanted me even more. I loved the thoughtfully tended gardens, quaint houses, cobble stoned paths and verdurous landscape. I couldn’t help but be reminded of scenes from Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Tess of the d’urbervilles… I would move to a nice small town there if I could.

Gatwick to Central London

I communicated ahead of time via email with our hotel, Marriot Grosvenor Square, to find out about getting to the hotel from Gatwick international airport and they provided helpful and detailed information: “To come from Gatwick, you could take the Gatwick Express train. The trains run every 15 minutes and take around 35 minutes to reach Central London (Victoria). The cost is £23 (return). From Victoria Station, you will need a taxi to come to the London Marriott Grosvenor Square (£10). Alternatively, we could arrange a car pick-up at Gatwick for £85. The journey will be around 90 minutes”.

Express train from Gatwick to central London

Express train from Gatwick to central London

Neighborhood by the rail road tracks

Neighborhood by the rail road tracks

Grosvenor Square

Our hotel, Marriot Grosvenor Square, is in an excellent location, adjacent to Grosvenor Square and United States’ Embassy in London, a block away from Oxford Street and close to many other attractions. Conveniently located on our block of the Street are about a dozen of restaurants, bakery and convenient store, including two Italian restaurants where we had dinners, an eclectic restaurant where we had lunch and a smaller eatery where we had breakfast. Between the underground tubes and buses, we were able to get around easily. The hotel’s website has a cool map available, check it out at: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/maps/travel/londt-london-marriott-hotel-grosvenor-square/

Selfridges on Oxford St. and Duke St.

Selfridges on Oxford St. and Duke St.


Oxford Street, stretching one and half mile long, is a major thoroughfare in Westminster, London and believed to be the busiest street in Europe with over 300 shops. The big department stores are located between Marble Arch and Oxford Circus. We visited this Selfridges on Oxford Street, a fancy store with an attractive food court.
Grosvenor Square on south side of Marriot

Grosvenor Square on south side of Marriot

Marriot on Duke St & Upper Brook St

Marriot on Duke St & Upper Brook St

Double deck buses Seen on Oxford St.

Double deck buses Seen on Oxford St.

United States’ Embassy on the west end of Grosvenor Square

United States’ Embassy on the west end of Grosvenor Square

Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus

Westminster Abbey

The famous Westminster Abbey is adjacent to the House of Parliament that sits on the west band of Thames River. While the present Gothic styled building was build in the mid 13th century, the church was established on the same site in 10th century by Benedictine monks. The abbey has been a coronation church since 1066 and its daily worship started by the Benedictine monks continues to the present day.
The abbey is a treasure trove of architecture, monuments, gravestones, arts and British history. With over 3,000 people buried in the church, it hosts a monumental collection of tombs and memorials marked by exceptional sculptures, statues and floor stabs, commemorating kings, queens and luminaries such as Isaac Newton among the others. Photo taking is not allowed inside the church. See its website for more info: http://www.westminster-abbey.org/

Henry VII’s Chapel on the east end and George V’s fossiliferous limestone statue

Henry VII’s Chapel on the east end and George V’s fossiliferous limestone statue

Façade of North Transept - Visitors’ Entrance

Façade of North Transept - Visitors’ Entrance

Façade on west end -Visitor Exit adjacent to souvenir shop

Façade on west end -Visitor Exit adjacent to souvenir shop

Big Ben and House of Parliament

Big Ben and House of Parliament from London Eye

Big Ben and House of Parliament from London Eye

Big Ben from Westminster Abbey

Big Ben from Westminster Abbey

Promenade by Thames

Crossing the Westminster Bridge eastward will take you to the promenade on the south bank of Thames River where many attractions ensue, including former County Hall (now a Marriot Hotel), many remarkable bridges over Thames, London Eye, Royal Festival Hall, Hayward Gallery and more. We visited the section between Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.

Street Artists

Piano player, sitting by Waterloo Bridge, was dressed to the tune of the 1940s

Piano player, sitting by Waterloo Bridge, was dressed to the tune of the 1940s

Sax phone playing and rope walking in one

Sax phone playing and rope walking in one

This amazing painting on the ground drew many passers-by

This amazing painting on the ground drew many passers-by

Bridges, Shakespear’s Globe and Marriot

Blackfriar’s Bridge with Skyline rising in City of London on the north side of Thames

Blackfriar’s Bridge with Skyline rising in City of London on the north side of Thames

Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral in City of London(Historical core of Metropolis London)

Millennium Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral in City of London(Historical core of Metropolis London)

Hungerford Bridge from London Eye

Hungerford Bridge from London Eye

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

Shakespeare’s Globe Theater

A glimpse from outside of the theater of a play underway

A glimpse from outside of the theater of a play underway

Marriot Hotel from London Eye-former County Hall

Marriot Hotel from London Eye-former County Hall

London Eye

London Eye

London Eye


London Eye is an amazing giant wheel carrying passenger capsules. When the capsule is lifted up to high enough altitude, the views are incredible. See more info at: http://www.londoneye.com/
A capsule high in the air

A capsule high in the air

View of London high up from the Eye

View of London high up from the Eye

House of Parliament, Westminster Bridge and Thames running to the east

House of Parliament, Westminster Bridge and Thames running to the east

St Paul’s Cathedral

Cathedral’s dome

Cathedral’s dome


St Paul’s Cathedral is located on the Ludgate Hill in City of London. The present church building was completed early 18th century on site of older cathedrals for St Paul dating back to 640AD. We were in time for one of the several services during the day and sat down for the service while the other tourists observed in the standing area. The interior of the church is magnificent but photo taking is not allowed inside. For more info, see: http://www.stpauls.co.uk/
Façade of St Paul’s Cathedral

Façade of St Paul’s Cathedral

Tower Bridge and Tower of London

Located on the north bank of Thames between the present day City of London and Borough of Tower Hamlets, Tower of London, started as a square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078, has developed over the centuries into a staggering complex of Royal Palace, treasury, Royal mint, a zoo, an armoury, a prison whose prisoners included Queen Elizabeth I and a place of execution and torture all within the defensive walls of the fortress. So steeped in history and diversified in its functions, Tower of London is laden with history and stories. Yeomen Warders at the tower today are also tour guides leading tours. Join one of the tours and you’ll be impressed by the tales of the tower vividly and dramatically showed and told by them. The other highlight is Crown Jewels of United Kingdom. For more info, see: http://www.hrp.org.uk/

Tower Bridge	right by the Tower of London

Tower Bridge right by the Tower of London

White Tower at Tower of London

White Tower at Tower of London

Palace Theater

An evening in the theater

An evening in the theater


As a birthday present for me, my husband booked tickets to Andrew Webber’s new show in London: A Woman in White. After the show, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant nearby. That was a fantastic evening and best birthday present.
A Woman in White at Palace Theater

A Woman in White at Palace Theater


The theater is on Shaftesbury Avenue near Charing Cross Road. That must be a busy area; it was still bustling when we came out of the theater.
Italian restaurant near by the theater

Italian restaurant near by the theater


By then I got the impression that Italian food was very popular in London.
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