by Doreen Booth, Churchill Wild Adventure Specialist
This past November, I was at our Seal River Heritage Lodge for the last departure of the Polar Bear Photo Safari. While at the Lodge, I had the opportunity to visit with Clare and Andy Coleman, two guests who were up for their second trip with us. I knew they lived near London, England, so when I told them I might have a trip to London coming up, they told me to contact them should the trip go ahead.
It is a rare opportunity that I get to visit with our guests in their home country, so I jumped at the opportunity to meet up with Clare and Andy for a visit. This was primarily a work trip (of course) but, due to timing, I found myself with a free weekend.
Clare and Andy live outside of London and had not had the opportunity to be “tourists” in London for many years so they were excited to take me around to see the sights. My only requests were to get as many pictures as I could of all the sights I had been driving by all week, and to see a musical.
We met up Saturday morning and our first stop was the very long line for Wicked tickets (yes, my musical wish come true!) From there, we found “Big Bus Tours” and purchased a hop-on hop-off two day pass. This became our mode of transportation for the weekend!
Our first stop was the Tower of London – “Built to strike fear and submission into the unruly citizens of London.” There were many people who lost their heads in this tower over the years for their unruly behavior. In the White Tower we saw the armor of Henry VIII, the beautiful 11th-century Chapel of St John the Evangelist, and the Crown Jewels.
The Tower of London was also used to house exotic animals. These animals were given as royal gifts and animals were kept at the Royal Menagerie for the entertainment and curiosity of the court. There were many stone sculptures around the Tower showing the different types of exotic animals including a polar bear that was gift from the King of Norway. We spent almost five hours exploring.
Our evening was comprised of a cruise on the River Thames, more sightseeing on the Big Bus Tour, a dinner of fish and chips at a small pub in the theatre district, and Wicked the musical. I have to admit I now have a different opinion of the Wicked Witch.
Sunday brought an open sky and wonderful sunlight! We headed straight for the London Eye, as it was the perfect day to see the sights from high above. After driving around the city all week it was great to see the city from a different vantage point.
Afterwards, we walked past Big Ben to get some close-up pictures and then we headed over to Westminster Abbey. It was neat to see the buildings in person and remember them from when the royal wedding took place.
Next, we headed over to Buckingham Palace for more photo opportunities and then to the Queen’s Gallery to view an exhibit titled The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton & Antarctic Photography.
After viewing the wonderful display of pictures we headed to a restaurant for lunch before parting ways. There was still work for me to do before Monday.
It was wonderful to meet up with my friends in London. I appreciate the time they took to show me around the city and keep me company. I learned a lot, laughed a lot, and will remember my trip to London for many years to come.
Thank you to Andy and Clare for being great “tour leaders” on my trip!
Wow, talk about role reversal!