Today my friends and I are taking the bus to Buckingham Palace in London, England!
This was the first of three day trips that I took over our third free weekend at Oxford. Since I will be returning to London soon for a class field trip to the Globe Theater, today’s visit was just a quick sneak peak about what this super-city has to offer.
Here’s what we did during our day in London!! :
Busing to London
The cheapest transportation from Oxford to London, England is to take the X90 bus from the Queen’s College Station. You can get a round trip discount with an open return for 12£ if you show a student ID, I think it’s 20£ without.
The journey takes around 2-2.5 hours depending on traffic, though ours took a bit longer because it was the poor driver’s first day, and he got a little lost once we’d gotten into the city.
It ended up being okay though, and we were dropped off right were we needed to be outside Buckingham Palace!
Buckingham Palace Gate and the Victoria Memorial
Seeings as the bus dropped us off here, this was the logical place to start our day in London.
We walked through the garden gate, and I was immediately transfixed with the beautiful golden angel atop the Victoria Memorial, although most people seemed to be gathered around the gates to the palace.
We walked over to the ornate wrought iron gates and figured out pretty quickly why people were so reverently crowded around. The Queen’s Guard was marching away in front of the palace, with their red coats, black poofy hats, and all! They also had some pretty scary looking guns.
It was interesting to watch the guards move. There were two stationed while we were there, and one would take a turn marching back and forth with high-kneed kicks, then the other would do the same. Maybe I was too far away to see properly, but I was surprised at how young they both looked.
After watching the guards march for a little while, we went back to Victoria’s Memorial and sat on the steps to just enjoy the palace gardens. While looking at the carvings, I noticed that Victoria’s nose appeared to be lighter than the rest of her face. My friends and I came to the conclusion that it had fallen off and they’d replaced it with some kind of clay, just like that episode of Spongebob where Squidward teaches him how to be a sculptor.
Parliament Square… Benjamin?
After hanging around outside Buckingham Palace for a bit, we got lunch at my favorite British chain, Pret, and we still had an hour before we were scheduled for the tour through the palace itself.
We decided to walk on over to Parliament Square to see some iconic London landmarks like Westminster Abbey, and of course, Big Ben.
On the way, my friends and I pointed at every lamppost and building, while joking:
“What if that was Big Ben?! hhhahahahahahaha”
In the distance, I spotted a pillar completely covered in scaffolding, and joked:
“What if THAT was ole’ Big Benjamin teehee!”
So imagine our surprise when we’ve finally made it to Parliament Square and can’t find Ben anywhere.
We finally recognized him when we looked up at the scaffolding tower to find a large clock’s face looking back at us.
Jokes on us, huh?
Tour Inside Buckingham Palace
We made it back just in the knick of time for our tour to start. The security is thorough but friendly, and once you’re through, they give you one of the best audio guides I’ve ever had to do your own, self paced tour.
It’s really unfortunate that you can’t take any photos inside, because I cannot convey to you the sheer majesty of the inside of Buckingham Palace.
Every. Single. Inch. is decorated with the Crown’s exorbitant wealth, and I can say with complete and utter honesty that it’s the most beautiful building I’ve ever been in. Everywhere you look, there are richly colored draperies, or fine portraits, or jewels or golden gilding or stained glass.
Like I said before, the audio guide did a great job of telling me about every thing and piece of history about the rooms, and there are optional sections so that you can go as slowly or as quickly as you like.
There’s so much to see that although you wouldn’t think it, a Buckingham Palace tour will take you at least 3 hours to get though, maybe 2.5 if you rush.
The admission price is more than I would have liked to pay, but we stayed for a very long time and I left feeling glad that I got to see it.
From Buckingham Palace, we headed Eastwards to the Tate Modern art museum where we’d be meeting our friends who’d just finished seeing a play at the Globe.
It was about an hour’s walk to Tate, and what an adventure it was!
We walked through a park, around Trafalgar Square, under that big arch with the Latin inscription, and finally across a bridge over the River Thames. I know that London has quite a few famous bridges, and it frustrates me to no end that I have no clue which one it was.
It definitely wasn’t the Tower Bridge because that one would be obvious.
Oh well, all I know is that the view was just lovely and we stopped walking for awhile just to look at the cityscape from the water.
Tate Modern Art Museum
Just like a majority of the other museums in England, the Tate Modern art museum is free!
It’s got a few floors with art of all kinds. Some are too abstract for me to ever hope to comprehend, some are thought provoking, and some are downright silly like my favorite piece, the Lobster Phone!
One exhibit I’ll never forget was a movie about a deaf Sudanese boy motioning thorough his experience of warfare. No child should ever be exposed to that kind of horror.
Another exhibit I found particularly fascinating was Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency, though it’s not something that’s appropriate for young kids.
Besides galleries upon galleries of exhibits, there’s also a viewing deck on the second floor that’s got awesome views of the river.
Catching a Taxi
To get back to Oxford, we would’ve had to walk another hour back to the bus stop for the X90, though we caved and got a taxi. It was expensive, as to be expected, and so I wouldn’t recommend this.
Despite that, we had no problems getting back on the bus and heading home.
I really, really enjoyed London!
Buckingham Palace was fun and astounding, and although my legs are aching, I loved our walk across the city. I think picking 2 or 3 things to see was a good idea because it took a lot of pressure off since we weren’t rushing around all day trying to check things off a list, as I’m often prone to do.
I’m not worried about missing out on anything though, because we’re going to take a field trip back to London at some point, and you can be sure I’ll post about it here!
So that was the adventure of taking the bus to Buckingham Palace in London!
London was the first of my weekend day-trips I took on the 3rd week of my semester abroad, and if you want to see where I went next (Manchester, then Brighton) click on those cities!
See you soon!