London : Gardens and Palaces

London : Kensington Gardens


11th July 2011. Written by Xin Li.
London, United Kingdom.
London is a boring place….”
Said my friends before I flew off.
Before I finally get to this part of the world, I had the impression that London is a place with overcast skies, grey and depressing city. In July, London is everything but depressing and boring.


London - Priscila


Musicals, art in various forms, cozy gardens, plenty of pretty buildings, sunshine, a diverse mix of cultures (and their food)…..how do these sound boring in anyway?


London - Admiralty Building


For the last part of our free and easy tour of London, we walked from our hostel to Trafalgar Square and made our way to the Buckingham Palace along the Mall from the Admiralty Gate located just next to Trafalgar Square.


London - Admiralty Gate


Londoners drove and cycled up and down this wide, tree-lined boulevard.


London - The Mall


We grabbed an Egg Mayo Sandwich from Pret a Manger while walking along the Mall. I like the addition of alfafa in this sandwich.


Pret A Manger - Egg Mayo Sandwich


Surrounding the front of the Buckingham Palace, at the side of the roads projected from the main gate, are tall, ornate gateposts dedicated to the colonial possessions of an once vast empire where the “sun never sets”.


Buckingham Palace : South Africa


At center of this semicircular projection in front of the Buckingham Palace is the Victoria Memorial, featuring a large, stern looking marble statue of Queen Victoria facing northeastwards towards the Mall.


London : Victoria Memorial


The Buckingham Palace is the star attraction.


London : Buckingham Palace


The primary residence of the British monarch is an iconic symbol of United Kingdom and the British Monarchy. A site of scandals, great speeches, historic moments and lavish celebrations and ceremonies, the Buckingham Palace has an important place in the history of Britain.


London : Buckingham Palace


E.R does not mean “Extremely Royal” but “Elizabeth Regina”.


London : Buckingham Palace


Pity you can’t enter the palace unless you have arranged for a tour.


London : Buckingham Palace


One could only imagine the grandeur inside the palace as you observe the elaborate patterns and forms of the fences that separate us from the palace itself.


London : Buckingham Palace


From the Buckingham Palace, we made our way across the road and found ourselves in a vast plot of greenery in the middle of the British capital, Green Park.


London - Green Park


Green Park is located opposite the palace along Constitution Hill, a road that got its name from King Charles II “constitutional” walks along the road in the 17th century.


London : Constitution Hill


Along Constitution Hill, you would walk past the Memorial Gates and arrive at the Wellington Arch.


London - Wellington Arch


The Wellington Arch was built in 1826-1830 under King George IV to commemorate British victories in the Napoleonic Wars.


London - Royal Artillery Memorial


From there, we walked past the Royal Artillery Memorial (a stone memorial dedicated to the casualties in the British Royal Regiment of Artillery in World War I) and entered the famed Hyde Park. (Also accessible via Hyde Park Corner Tube Station)


London : Apsley House


Hyde Park, measuring 350 acres was acquired by King Henry VIII from the monks of Westminster Abbey in 1536. The park then was a private hunting ground for deer for the king and his court until King James I permitted limited access to the park.


London - Wellington Arch


The park was finally opened to the public under King Charles I in 1637 and at one point of time served as a camping ground for the citizens of London to escape from the Great Plague when it struck the city in 1665.


London - Hyde Park


The park’s fame as a ground for free speeches began around the late 1800s when the Prime Minister allowed meetings to continue unchallenged following a scuffle between Edmund Beales’ Reform League and the police in 1866.


Hyde Park : The Serpentine


Our stroll in Hyde Park began with an ominous sign, a sign warning of pickpockets and robbers. Being first time visitors to London, such things made us feel uneasy.


Hyde Park : The Serpentine


Fortunately, no robbery or pickpocketing took place. We get to enjoy the beauty of the flower gardens of Hyde Park and the serene Serpentine peacefully.


Hyde Park : The Serpentine


Hyde Park : The Serpentine


Moving towards the west, one crosses into Kensington Gardens, a huge former private garden of Kensington Palace.


London : Kensington Gardens


The gardens has a countryside feel with expansive grasslands. It is no surprise that it is popular spot for the locals to walk their dogs and let them roam about (and play catch!).


London : Kensington Gardens


Just in front of the Kensington Palace in the gardens is Long Water, where you can find plenty of ducks, pigeons and swans resting around the pond (beware of their poo though)


London : Kensington Palace


Kensington Palace hasn’t opened during our time of visit. The move to turn it into some sort of Alice in Wonderland kind of fantasy land didn’t entice me a single bit.


London : Kensington Palace


The royal residence, dating back to the 17th century is the official London residence several dukes and duchesses. The place could be accessed easily via foot from Queensway, Bayswater and High Street Kensington Tube stations.


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