United Kingdom
Whitehall

Here you’ll find travel reports about Whitehall. Discover travel destinations in the United Kingdom of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

62 travelers at this place:

  • Day8

    Westminster attack

    April 2, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    I'm visiting the area around Westminster this morning. There are some very somber reminders of the things that are happening in the world right now. I loved the letter from one Londoner who wrote with pride and defiance that they would not give in to fear. I feel this way too and will continue to travel and visit the places I want to see.

  • Day83

    Day 83: More of London

    May 9, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    Day two of our London Pass access! As you might expect, we headed out early to maximise what we'd be able to see and do with the pass. After a very cramped peak hour Tube ride (we later discovered that the Northern Line is way over capacity and notoriously so), we arrived at destination #1 for the day: St Paul's Cathedral. Surprisingly, it isn't actually UNESCO listed, so no pressure for doing a video. Just wandered around and enjoyed the ambience - almost as impressive as Westminster Abbey, but in a very different way.

    Also found some interesting facts while doing the research for my videos: Westminster is so named to differentiate it from St Paul's (although both originally had different names). Westminster is west of St Paul's which was the main city church in the medieval era, so they literally called it the western ministry to distinguish it from the eastern one in the City proper.

    St Paul's is comparatively new, and was only built after the previous cathedral was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Sir Christopher Wren was the architect, and the baroque interior is very different to the Gothic and Catholic buildings we've been used to seeing in Spain, Portugal and France. One treat we enjoyed was climbing the 180-ish stairs to the top of the interior dome - great view! Unfortunately due to restoration works we couldn't go outside to the very top, alas.

    Back down and out into the cold where we crossed the river and headed for stop number two: Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. We grabbed our tickets for a tour starting shortly and started through the exhibition. I knew going in that it wasn't the original building, and I felt quite cynical about things, but by the end of the tour I'd done a complete 180. Firstly our tour guide was great - very enthusiastic and knowledgeable (probably helped that he was an actor), but he was completely open and up-front that it wasn't the original building, nor was it in the same place as the original.

    In fact, it's the third "Globe" theatre, after the first two had burned down - one in Shakespeare's time, the other a couple of decades later. But he went in some detail through all the methods and research that had gone into the new building, and I came away feeling very impressed. As much as possible they've recreated the original building, with a few concessions to health & safety regulations. But in terms of design, materials etc, everything fits with what little is known about the original theatre. It's almost as much of a mystery as Shakespeare himself!

    Once we'd finished we spent a bit more time exploring the museum exhibition. Very interesting. Next up it was lunch time - we'd arranged to meet my brother Sean and his girlfriend at Borough Markets for lunch around 1pm, but they were now running 30-60 minutes late. Given what we still hoped to fit into the day, we decided to just grab a quick healthy fast-food lunch, have a brief wander through the markets anyway, then head onwards. So that's what we did.

    Final stop for the day was another UNESCO site: the Tower of London. This is a large Norman fortress constructed on the edge of the Thames that was originally built as a palace/fortress, but was eventually used as an armory, a prison and a few other things too. We arrived just in time for a Yeoman Warder tour, which is a 60 minute guided tour of the fortress complex run by a guard (not the guys with the red coats and furry black hats). They're very boisterous, loud and entertaining, which was quite a refreshing change after the tours we'd been on in Spain, often in Spanish!

    He took the group of around 50 people around for an hour, pointing out various places of interest and telling stories from the Tower's long and varied history. For example, despite its reputation as a place of imprisonment and torture, only four people were actually executed within the Tower's walls. Executions were of course done in public, on nearby Tower Hill. In fact, three of the four executed inside the walls were women, and two of them were (former) wives of Henry VIII - Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleeves. Queen Elizabeth I had been imprisoned briefly, but obviously survived.

    Another funny story: since it was originally built as a fortress, the first time they brought a prisoner in they didn't know what to do. So they tossed him in the cellar. Unfortunately it was a wine cellar, and the prisoner was a Frenchman, and a monk at that. He cracked open the wine, got his guards drunk, scaled the walls and was never heard from again. So much for the first prisoner! And the last prisoner - Rudolph Hess, Hitler's deputy who flew solo to the UK in 1941 hoping to negotiate peace. Unfortunately for him it didn't work, and he was briefly held at the Tower before being put on trial at Nuremburg.

    After the tour we wandered around for a few hours exploring. Other highlights include the Crown Jewels - the sceptres, orbs, crowns and other regalia for the British monarchs. Two of the largest cut diamonds in the world in this room! Amusingly, they put you on a travelator like at the airport in this room so you can't linger very long. Also interesting tours of the armour room where late medieval armour was on show, such as that worn by Henry VIII and others. Did lots of filming too so hopefully we'll get a good video out of it!

    Finally at 5:30pm the Tower was closing up and we had to leave. Back onto the packed Tube where we decided on a local dinner at the pub across the road from our apartment (called the Narrowboat). Great food, though the service was a bit slow and a man drinking on the balcony had a poorly-behaved dog that kept barking and winding up Schnitzel. Poor little guy, he's had a boring couple of days asleep in the house on his own! Another early night, having walked 22,000 steps today!
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  • Day82

    Day 82: Exploring London

    May 8, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    Since there were three more UNESCO sites in central London we wanted to see, we decided to pick up a three day London Pass with discounted entry to those sites, plus several others as well. Saved us a reasonable amount of money, but came with the slight downside of needing to pack everything in to the next three days.

    But we steeled ourselves, and headed off into the city around 9am. Short walk to Angel tube station where we went the single stop to King's Cross, where lucky for us our hop-on/hop-off was waiting! They aren't super frequent so we ran the last hundred metres to ensure we made it. Hardly anyone on board which was nice, so we grabbed some good seats on the exposed upper deck and settled in for the drive around the city.

    It was quite slow due to the morning rush hour and we didn't make a lot of progress around the eastern side of the city, but eventually made it past St Paul's and across Tower Bridge. It wound along Southbank and we decided to hop off on the western end, just near Waterloo station. From here we walked across Westminster bridge and then wandered around, looking at Westminster palace and the Abbey.

    Headed into the Abbey and spent quite a while marvelling at the burials and memorials of all the famous people and not-so-famous people. Everyone from Isaac Newton, a memorial to Shakespeare, church notables and also a plumber for some reason! Unfortunately photos and videos aren't permitted inside the church (I'd applied for a filming permit but was denied since there is restoration work happening), so not sure how I'm going to make a UNESCO video out of here!

    By the time we'd finished it was lunchtime, so we grabbed a quick sandwich and kept wandering. Wanted to look at nearby 10 Downing Street, but the entire street is now closed off (it's a short cul-de-sac) and you can't get anywhere near it. Large iron gates, ground bollards to stop ram-raiders, and of course lots of police and soldiers.

    Next stop was just nearby: Churchill's War Rooms. These were a series of underground bunkers and rooms where Churchill and his staff worked and lived during the war. Despite being in the centre of London, basically directly underneath Whitehall and at a surprisingly shallow depth, they were never hit by German bombs. The whole facility had been essentially locked up and discarded a couple of years after the war, so it was preserved really well and was essentially unchanged from the final few days of the war until the present day. Very interesting stuff, and one area was devoted to Churchill and his career. It sort of glossed over how he was responsible for the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in WW1 though!

    Emerging blinking out onto the busy streets again, we walked through St James's Park down to Buckingham Palace for a quick look. Not much to see here as it wasn't time for changing of the guard, and the Union Jack was flying rather than the Royal Ensign, indicating that Liz wasn't home. We walked back down the Mall (quite a distance!) and then headed into Trafalgar Square for a look around.

    Took some photos, then visited a nearby pub named the Chandos - Shandos's namesake! Not many things bear her name, so we made the most of it! The (Australian) jerk behind the bar declined my polite request for drinks on the house though. Drinks imbibed, we hopped back on the Tube and headed home. A little more wandering around Angel on the way back lead us past a house with a plaque dedicated to Caroline Chisholm who had lived there in the 19th century. Australians will of course remember her from the old $20 note.

    Back to our room where we collapsed exhausted from our walking. 18,000 steps (or 12.5km) according to my pedometer! Just time for spaghetti with pesto for dinner accompanied by a cheap bottle of local cider. It's going to be a busy few days!
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  • Day7

    Can you say DOUBLE DECKER BUS!

    May 26, 2015 in the United Kingdom

    We went on a double decker bus tour Tuesday and it was sooooo cool. We had seen a lot of things but this tour was so nice and told us so many things about the history and culture of London(oddly enough it was mostly royals, plagues and fires)?? here are some sweet pictures I got from the tip top of the bus!

  • Day206

    LONDON (THE WEDDING DRESS SAGA)

    October 13, 2015 in the United Kingdom

    Unfortunately not all of the gang love Sukis new dress. This has now become a bigger issue than global warming!

    With one last day in London, Michelle and Suki head into to town to inspect more dresses. After a long day, the RIGHT dress is found and with a bit of sympathy she gets a full refund on the purchase of the first dress!

    Trav has been roaming the city by himself checking out the main tourist spots and catches up with the girls for dinner before heading to the theatre.

    Suki has booked us in for the show 'The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night' which although her Asian thriftyness scores us tickets with a good part of the stage obstructed, turned out to the be pretty interesting based on the life of an Autistic kid.

    We say our farewell to Michelle and head home to pack for our 2nd last leg - Hong Kong!
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  • Day205

    LONDON (POP QUIZ CHAMPIONS!)

    October 12, 2015 in the United Kingdom

    Michelle found time in her busy All Blacks Tour schedule and caught the train to London to catch up. After a traditional roast at a local pub Michelle was glued to the TV watching the Ireland V Scotland match.

    Over the last couple of days Pratty and Katie had been prepping up for the weekly trivia pop quiz at their local pub. Luckily Michelle was in town and at 8pm we regrouped at the Clapham North ready for a challenge. Unfortunately it seemed that our booking was lost so Pratty stealthily tore up another groups reservation so we could have a table.

    It was a tense few rounds with all members of the team able to chip in and solve the puzzles. Sukis only contribution extended to knowing the name of a feather pen (quill) for which she felt made her one of the group......

    In the end out of 10 teams we tied for first and then won the tie-breaker question of guessing the quiz masters mothers year of birth (she was way old!). We split the £50 jackpot 6 ways and were well impressed with the victory. For Pratty, this was his first win since they started 18 months ago - obviously the Aussie contributions pushed us over the line.
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  • Day7

    London Jan 26th

    January 26, 2017 in the United Kingdom

    Today I'm heading out for a day trip to Windsor castle, Stonehenge, Lacock (medieval village) and Bath. It turned out to be a very busy day starting at 4:30 AM so I could catch a bus from the Flat in Addison Gardens to Victoria Coach Station (London's Greyhound depot) to meet the tour bus.

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