It was a day before the Christmas in London and the festive spirit permeated the air with the decorative Christmas trees, lights and the aroma of the freshly baked cakes everywhere. The weather amazingly turned chilly and misty accompanied by a light drizzle. We were so ensorcelled by the charm of the city that everything suddenly seemed to be poetic.
We took an underground to Greenpark station which opened into the huge green forests of Greenpark. The Greenpark including the gardens of Buckingham Palace is one of the royal parks of London. We walked through the foggy verdurous forests to the Canada Gate that marked the entrance to Greenpark.
Beyond the Canada Gate is the magnificent Buckingham palace which is the official London residence of the Queen. The Buckingham palace remained closed for winter but we could watch the guard changing ceremony that happens on alternate days in winter.
The place around the palace was jam packed with the tourists arrived to witness the guard changing ceremony. The Changing of the Guard takes place in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. The ceremony takes place at around 11.30 am and is a remarkable event to behold.
The Victoria Memorial, a monument to Queen Victoria is located opposite the entrance to Buckingham Palace. The central pylon is of marble on which stands a gilded bronze statue of Winged Victory standing on a globe.
St. James’s Park
St. James’s Park is oldest of the royal parks and is meticulously maintained to treat visitors for a surreal backdrop. St. James’s Park Lake is a small serene lake which has a Duck Island housing the oldest and popular residents of the park, the pelicans. We enjoyed rambling through the park alongside the lake, watching the waterfowl few of which shared a walk with us and posed for pictures.
Big Ben and Westminster
We headed towards the south of the St. James’s Park and crossed the main road to the stunning views of the Big Ben. Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock tower at the north end of the Westminster Palace or the House of the parliament. Westminster Abbey is a large gothic abbey church with more than 1000 years of history is located to the west of the Palace of Westminster.
Hop onto the glass capsules of giant Ferris wheel for an amazing 30-minute ride which rewards with the panoramic view over the London city including the major landmarks like Buckingham palace, Westminster and St. Paul cathedral.
The Trafalgar Square is around 10 minutes walk from the Westminster abbey. We walked through the parliament street and the Whitehall, which has several government buildings. Whitehall also has a number of memorial statues and monuments including the Britain’s primary war memorial ‘The Cenotaph’, Women of World War II among others.
Trafalgar Square is a public square used for community gatherings and commemorates the victory of ‘Battle of Trafalgar’ fought with France and Spain. The square houses the National Gallery and the Nelson’s Column with the statue of Horatio Nelson who commanded the British Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar atop.
There are a lot of good restaurants around the Trafalgar Square where we decided to take a break and have our lunch. After some heavy delicious meal, we continued walking towards Piccadilly Circus to explore the shopping spree of the dream city.
After lunch, you can directly head to the wax museum of Madame Tussauds to take pictures with your favorite celebrities and skip visiting Winter Wonderland. You may also need to skip a visit to the Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus as the shops generally close by 6 in the evening. We chose to skip Madame Tussauds.
Shopping at Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus
Piccadilly circus is popular for the huge video display on a corner building opposite to the Piccadilly Circus tube station with several brand shops. Oxford circus is believed to be the Europe’s busiest shopping street, with around half a million daily visitors. After spending ample time taking in the hustle-bustle of the city, we moved on to complete our tour circuit at Winter Wonderland.
We took a train to Hyde Park that hosted a wonderful Christmas market in Winter Wonderland. The Winter Wonderland hosts a variety of entertainment activities like ice skating rink, carousel, Chocolate and Sweet stalls and games. We spent time in the Winter Wonderland until late evening enjoying the Christmas lights and fun.
London literally shuts down everything on 25th to keep alive the festive spirit and to encourage folks to spend a day with family and friends. And we kept this traditional alive by spending some quality fun time with our cousins based out of London.
We had already covered the major attractions of London on day1 and hence day2 turned out to be a relaxed day with shopping and visiting Christmas markets. Read the day 1 of the itinerary for the best of London here.
Share with us your experiences of the dream city London in comments. We love to hear your stories.
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