European Vacation | Part 1 | London

Last July, my family and I vacationed in Europe to celebrate my sister's high school graduation.  We visit three cities, London, Paris, and Rome, and we had an amazing time!  This is Part 1 of the mini-series here on the blog to share my favorite photos from the trip!  

This was my second time in London.  A first visit to a foreign city is an amazing experience, but you can never do everything, no matter how long you stay.  So, a second visit is always welcomed :)  I can't compare my two visits, because we did very different things and visited different places.  Here are some of my favorites from this leg of our vacation.

After getting to our hotel, the first thing we did in the city was to visit the Tower of London.  It was literally right across the street, so we didn't have far to go.  It was pretty cool to be staying within walking distance of this site.  The Tower of London is a historic castle situated alongside the River Thames.  This is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Currently, the Crown Jewels are on display in the Tower.  While we chose to not see them this visit, we did experience them last time we were there.

Overlooking the Tower is Tower Bridge.  This is the bridge that had the Olympic rings suspended to celebrate the occasion back in 2012.

Another view of the Tower of London.

An Underground sign, across from the Tower of London. 

While taking a walk around the vicinity of our hotel, we stumbled across this quaint pub.

Just down from our hotel was the St. Olave Hart Street Church.  This church is one of the smallest churches in the city and was one of the few medieval churches that survived the Great Fire of London in 1666.  I did a little research on this church and discovered that Queen Elizabeth I of England held a Thanksgiving service here on the day she was released from the Tower of London in 1554.

The garden of St. Olave Hart Street Church.

We were in town during the time of the 2014 World Cup.  We spent the evening of July 5 in our hotel's lounge/restaurant while the Netherlands were playing Costa Rica in the Quarterfinals.  It was so much fun to be immersed in the Londoners who were cheering on their neighbor, the Netherlands!   

Our hotel.

The view from my hotel room.  See the Tower of London??  I told you we were close!

This photo was taken from the roof of a mall that our tour guide took us to.  This is one of those locations that we never would have found had we been traveling here by ourselves.  It was a nice surprise.  The rooftop, which had lounge furniture, the large screen, and was used for events and parties, had an amazing view St. Paul's Cathedral.  St. Paul's, which you can see in the background here, was where Prince Charles and Diana got married.  

Details of St. Paul's Cathedral

Waiting to watch the beginning of the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Police horse

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard

Police on duty for the Changing of the Guard.

Buckingham Palace - the Union Flag was flying while we were there, so the Queen was not in residence at the time.  We just missed her! :)

Something else we just missed, was the Tour de France.  This photo was taken the day before the bicycle race was supposed to come through town.  On that day, we were on our way to the next location...Paris.  We were one step ahead of the race, so we didn't get to experience that craziness!  As we were leaving London, however, the roads were already closing in preparation for the race, but our bus was able to maneuver and we weren't delayed en route to the train station!

After leaving the Buckingham Palace area, we took a taxi to Wesley's Chapel - a methodist church build by John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement.  Next to the church was Wesley's house.  This was a neat experience!

These flowers were on the trees outside of Wesley's Chapel.  Anyone know what they are called?  I love them!  They are so unique and the color is gorgeous!

Shopping at Harrod's, anyone?!  This place is incredible.  5 acres and over 1 million square feet of shopping space.  Yes, please!  We even discovered a Disney Store and Disney Cafe inside!!

This building, located in Brompton Quarter, is next to South Kensington.

Memorials for Princess Diana outside of Kensington Palace.

Kensington Palace - we took a tour of the inside of the palace.  Pretty cool!

While we can't be 100% sure, we think that Prince Andrew was in this car!

Westminster Abbey - the home of royal weddings dating back to November 1100!  This place is a masterpiece!  

A plaque outside commemorating the Royal Wedding.

Big Ben, Parliament!  (Clark Griswold and European Vacation, anyone!?)  :)

The London Eye...which I safely admired from the ground!

Stay tuned for the next part of this series...Paris!

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