Part 5: Westminster Abbey and London Eye


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The Trip

Westminster Abbey is one of the iconic places in London.  Fortunately, the Abbey is right next to Big Ben and the Parliament building.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

When we arrived at the Westminster tube station, it was a madhouse.  It was very crowded and people we milling about. I was not expecting a protest but at this point it was just a sign.  Things would heat up a bit later in the afternoon.  We bypassed these folks and went our own way.

By happenstance, we were next to Big Ben at straight-up noon so we got to hear the chimes.

Big Ben is at one end of the Parliament building and the main tower on the other.  The building is heavily patrolled and security is tight.

Kathleen was happy for a sunny day that required sun glasses.

A portion of the exterior of Westminster Abbey was under restoration.  This is a really big cathedral and it is truly imposing.  While we had been here before in 2005, I don't recall the no-photos restriction.  But, in the end it was likely a good thing as there were so many people wandering around that chaos would have reigned.  The scope and details of the interior monuments and chapels are awe inspiring and are almost beyond words.

They were less concerned about photos outside.  This is an interior yard by the cloisters.

The Chapter House was one of the areas had stained glass that we could photo.  These panels are mostly descriptive rather than religious.  The chapter house was used as public records storage from 1547 through 1863.  The domestic copy of the Magna Charta was stored here.

This set of windows were dedicated to pilots killed in the Battle of Britain.  The bottom left two panels states that the original glass was blown out by a German bomb in 1941 and what remained was reset in 1950.  The whole chapter house was cleaned and restored thereafter.  The bottom right panel states "Of the craftsmen it may be said that that in the handiwork of their craft is their prayer".

The chapter house had some extremely intricate carvings.

The walls of the chapter house had old paintings representing religious events.  These were cleaned and restored after WWII.

From the chapter house passageway we could see the south side of the abbey.  The different color stone indicates what was restored or cleaned.

The construction is classic Gothic style complete with flying buttresses to support the tall walls.

From the courtyard we got a glimpse of the upper portions of the Parliament Tower.  The detailed carvings on the upper portion of the tower are truly amazing.

This monument is on the west end of the abbey and also has highly detailed carvings.

The front of the abbey had a number of very intricate carvings.

Leaving the abbey, we walked past a portion of the Parliament building giving us a better view of the main tower.  The cast iron fence around the perimeter is substantial.

Big Ben and Parliament building as seen from the south bank of the River Thames.  Westminster Bridge is on the right.

While we were in the abbey, the main focus of the protest had been co-opted from "support for Syria" to "Occupy Democracy".  The signs stated "Reclaim Democracy from the Fossil Fools", "People and Planet not Peers and Profit",  and "Only Justice through Sharing will bring Peace".  The police were there in force and had several trucks full of officers held back until the trouble develops.  There were more cops and photographers than protesters.

I spotted this classic MG.  The driver was old enough to be the original owner, but I did not get a chance to speak with him.

We walked over the Thames River via Westminster Bridge and got a clear view of the London Eye, our next destination.

We paid an extra fee for Fast Track tickets that take you to the front of the line.  We were glad that we did; it was worth the extra fee.  We were preparing to board our capsule and we got good views of the architecture and engineering support equipment required to keep this beast running.

The red equipment is the motive power and braking for the eye's wheel.  The rollers pinch the frame and transfer rotational power.

The capsule in front of us has just left the station as we finish loading.

I knew the crowds were heavy but with a bit of altitude I got to see just how heavy.  This is a sea of people seemingly moving in a Brownian motion pattern.  Our fast track pass allowed us to avoid this portion of insanity.

As the capsule got higher, we got nice views of the Jubilee Bridge and railroad bridge.

Charing Cross Station comes into view..

We spotted a tug boat pulling 3 barges.

Near the top of the cycle we got a nice clear view of London to the east.  While the reduced detail in the photo above does not show them, there were large numbers of cranes at work on construction projects.

The capsule rotates as the wheel turns thus keeping the floor level.  The rotation bearings are under the silver hoops.

On the descending portion of the revolution we got a nice view of the Parliament building and Big Ben.  Westminster Abbey is also visible in the photo above.  Some of the construction cranes are visible above and to the right of Parliament Tower.

From the Eye, we headed for a late lunch and then went to Waterloo Station to check it out.  Some out of duty trains were visible as well as many that were part of the evening commute.

The UK is the most heavily surveiled country on the planet.  There are many tens of thousands of video cameras in the London area alone that run right into the government's archive and analysis vault.  Our short inspection showed 40 CCTV cameras in the limited area of the Waterloo station that we inspected.  Of course, no effort was made to hide these cameras, but I am sure that there are many covert cameras as well.

We hopped a Bakerloo line train to Embankment and then changed trains to the Circle line and went to Blackfriars station.  The tube station platform for this line was very deep in the ground as the tunnel goes under the Thames River.

Outside of Blackfriars Station near our hotel we spotted this classic Jaguar E-Type V-12.

The interior was a class act.  I am surprised that the owner left it exposed to the possible rain.

Westminster Abbey is visual overload.  The interior is SO huge and SO detailed it becomes almost numbing after awhile.  But, when it London, it is on the must-see list.  The London Eye is also on the must-see list and is a true feat of engineering.  The views were spectacular and we were blessed with relatively clear skies and no rain.  The crowds were heavy at both locations and I shudder to think that the high season has not yet arrived.

Next up, Kensington Park.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2015, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.