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May 25, 2012 / Stephanie Vermillion

Time for some London exploring

Having done most of my sightseeing so far while running (always difficult for getting pictures when the threat of dripping sweat to cause water damage on the iPhone is mortifying), I decided it was time to get out of my wonderful neighborhood of Kensington and start experiencing more of London. Thankfully Carolyn who interned in London before wanted to join me, giving me a knowledgeable and direction-savvy sightseeing partner.

Our plan of attack was to cut through Hyde Park, leading into Green Park, and then St. James’s Park to get to Buckingham Palace. I brought along my new London map for directions if needed, just in case something unusual like getting lost would happen. On the way to downtown London we were perfectly fine, but then royalty and palace excitement happened, and any sense of direction was lost.

But, as all terrible navigators know, you don’t realize you’re turned around until you’re basically upside down. And being on Queen Elizabeth II’s turf can have that upside-down effect.

As we walked up to Buckingham Palace we saw groups of people inside the palace gates dressed up in formalwear, and we stood along the gate for 10 minutes hoping we’d see a glimpse of the wonderful princess herself. But no such luck, so we moved along to see something just too precious.

A bunch of the older ladies from the event were having a ball being interviewed by some TV crew, and we noticed all were wearing medals. We asked one of the husbands (it was too easy to tell, he was staring lovingly at one of those women the whole adorable time) what was going on, and found out it was a “garden party event.”

My invite must have been sent to my old Boston address, but that’s okay, my current wardrobe can’t come close to the fancy and frills of these fabulous women!

And after hearing garden party, getting visions of scones and tea sandwiches in our heads, Carolyn and I both realized it was time to go home and get some dinner before experiencing The Swan (a historic English bar where at one time prisoners were taken for last meals before getting hung at the Marble Arch).

So we were hungry, we were tired, and we were in need of showers. But we were also in need of a sense of direction, as we ended up getting so turned around we found ourselves in Trafalgar Square, thinking that entrance arch was the Wellington Arch leading into Hyde Park. It’s not. Completely wrong direction.

But in getting lost we also ended up seeing more must-see London sights than I had hoped for, including a thorough tour through St. James Park and spectacular views of the London Eye, which set up some great photo opps (more in the gallery below).

So for those of you concerned, YES we made it back in time to see London’s historic pub The Swan, and no our night didn’t end at the Marble Arch like those Swan-goers before us. Instead, we ended the night running through Kensington Gardens to get home before the gates closed at midnight (avoiding $$$ cab rides) and falling asleep to a beautiful flat view of Kensington.

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