Wednesday, January 8, 2014

London Day 3: Changing of the Guard, Trafalgar Square, Borough Market, Covent Garden

London Day 3 - December 28, 2013
Palace guards heading in
Our third day in London was a little more structured and we were fortunate enough to have a couple of local "tour guides" join us. My niece Lauren had a friend, Kat, who she met in Madrid but who lives near London and my other niece Shyla had a friend, Sami, who happened to be in London visiting his girlfriend but who had also lived in London for a time while he went to school here. We wanted to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace so we arranged to meet them at "the fountain" at noon.
Buckingham Palace
That turned out to be a little tricky as it turned out every tourist in London also came to see the changing of the guard and we were roped off into certain sections to allow traffic, including the guards on their horses, through. There were so many people we didn't actually see the changing itself although we managed to catch them mounted up and heading towards Buckingham Palace in red robed glory. Fortunately we did miraculously locate Sami in the throng and went to Plan B to meet Kat at Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square 
Specifically, we met her (literally) at the blue rooster. According to Sami, artists compete to have their works displayed at Trafalgar Square for certain lengths of time and the current winner was whoever designed this rooster. It's very big and very blue and is an ideal landmark to meet someone by simply because you absolutely can't miss it at Trafalgar Square.
The foursome - but see the legs of the blue rooster at the center top of this pic?
The nice thing about having local folks to guide us around is they know where to go and what all the buildings and landmarks were that we were passing. Our walk included a peek in at Somerset House to watch the ice skaters as we made our way to the Thames and its myriad of bridges.
Somerset House with an ice skating rink outside
But the best place they told us about was Borough Market, underneath the bridge near London Bridge tube station. This place was great and exactly the kind of local market I like poking around in when I visit somewhere.
There were a lot of fresh food stalls from seafood and meats to breads and cheeses to fruits and vegetables. You can buy fresh produce as well as ready-to-eat foods cooked onsite. Or at least kept warm there and served hot.
It was a fun place to walk around and from there they took us to Covent Garden, also very crowded and filled with more tourists. No shopping for us but just people watching and walking. My biggest surprise was discovering a Shake Shack at Covent Garden. I thought they were only in New York City and I have very fond memories of trying my first Shake Shack burger on my last trip to Manhattan. I didn't try it here, only because we had already eaten at Borough Market but don't think I didn't consider it.
Covent Garden
Shake Shack at Covent Garden
 Like most of the central locations in London, Covent Garden was very crowded. We weren't in shopping mode so it was enough to mill around with the thousands of other people, see the sights and people watch. It was a great day filled with local color (or should I say "colour"?) and we had another fabulous time. Many thanks to Kat and Sami for showing us London through their experienced eyes.

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