We changed our plans for today. Oliver and I were planning to visit Windsor Castle and Legoland Windsor, but I read some dire reviews of Legoland on Trip Adviser. So we decided to go to the Tower of London instead. This meant a Tube ride from Paddington to Tower Hill. But because I have off peak travel cards, we can't get on the Tube until after 9.30am. So we started walking towards Buckingham Palace with the plan to walk there and then catch the Tube to the Tower after 9.30.
We never made it to the Tower. We'll save it for tomorrow. Instead, we spent the day walking through London and we covered lots of ground.
First we walked from Paddington down to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Hyde Park is enormous and reminds me of New York's Central Park or Sydney's Centennial Park. Lots of joggers, people walking dogs, people riding bikes (everywhere without helmets including in the London traffic; madness!) and even some horse riders. We walked past the Italianate Garden, which Prince Albert designed and built for Queen Victoria. Beautiful!
Then we walked along the Serpentine, a man made lake that winds throughout the park. And on to Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch, which is home to the moving Australian War Memorial. It's a sweeping wall of grey granite into which has been carved the names of the home towns of all those Australians who died in World Wars I and II. The carving has been done in such a way that some of the towns spell out the locations of our famous (or infamous) battles, such as Gallipoli, Pozieres and Kokoda.
We then walked down Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace. Big crowds here. We amused ourselves watching the guards parade around for a while and Oliver found another naked statue to laugh at. He also threw some pence into the fountain for good luck.
We wandered through St James Park and on to the Churchill War Rooms. These are a set of underground bunkers from which Churchill directed British and Allied forces during World War II, especially during the Blitz. Oliver found these fascinating. We used a great kids' audio guide as we ducked in and out of the tiny rooms, which seemed to have housed the most enormous workforce under incredibly difficult conditions. Highly recommended.
Our last few stops this morning were Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament — a quick gander before we jumped back onto the Tube — and a return visit to Hamelys Toy Store at Oliver's request.
By this time we were starving and so followed Karen G's advice and ate at Pret a Manger before heading back to our hotel. We are resting up now before heading out to visit the London Zoo for an hour or so.
I'm impressed with how willing Oliver is to keep walking. We've walked a lot these last two days. My feet are sore!