Hmmmm, thought she.
The Tower of London was used during the First World War to recruit and train English Troops. Poppies, by the way, became the symbol of war casualties because the flower sprung up from the simple graves of fallen soldiers.
Next it was off to see the Crown Jewels.
It was back on the bus and along the way we saw the Dragons that protect the old city of London and the London Eye.
Of course, I took the obligatory photo in a classic London phone booth!
Westminster Abbey is where most Royals since 1919 have gotten married. Charles and Diana got married in Saint Paul’s Cathedral because their guest list was too extensive for the Abbey to accommodate. The Brits believe that not marrying in Westminster Abbey is a royal mistake and bad luck indeed….
Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guards…
Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery where we swooned over Van Gogh’s Sunflowers…
We had traditional English fare of Fish and Chips and beer at an old English pub on The Strand called the Coal Hole.
As you can see, it was a lovely day in London. As the sun was setting, we took the Tube back to Hammersmith to retire for the evening.
The next morning, we boarded a bus to Dover. The White Cliffs of Dover are breathtaking and these photos do not do these majestic Cliffs justice with its striking facade of chalk highlighted by streaks of black flint. In the past, the Cliffs were critical in that they represented a natural barrier to England, protecting the British from invasions. The Port of Dover was the primary route into Britain prior to air travel.
The boat on which we crossed the Channel in was like a floating shopping mall, complete with a Starbucks. I had to remind myself, several times, that I was crossing the English Channel…it was all extremely dreamlike! We crossed the Channel, landed in Calais, France and then boarded a bus for the 250 mile drive through Belguim to Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The glorious European countryside is dotted with centuries-old structures as sheep, cows, and horses provide a watchful eye. And, as a bonus, the rest stop food in each country was absolutely amazing…..fresh and tasty and, you could get a beer, so I had to get a Grolsch.
We arrived in Amsterdam that evening and settled into our hotel, anxiously anticipating our cruise along the Canals the next day….I could not wait.
Amsterdam used to be connected to the open sea and was an important port town. Vessels from all over the world sailed into Amsterdam and trips to the East Indies were quite momentous because the sailors returned with spices. Back then, spices — most significantly, pepper — were more precious and expensive than gold. The house below is called “The Pepper House” and a local financier of spice expeditions built the house, complete with shutters, so that thieves could not peer in and inspect the newly transported goods!
Bicycles are the most common form of transportation in Amsterdam and there are more bicycles in the city than in Bejing. Bicycle lanes abound and the cyclists have the right-of-way which gives new meaning to looking both ways! Even the street lights have a bicycle light.
We left Volendam and drove along the seriously charming Dutch countryside towards Germany. I love the juxtaposition of the nature and the industrial feel of the modern windmills in the photo below.
I took many notes!