I remember going on a cruise with my grandparents when I was 20, and BOY WAS I ANNOYED by all the fucking bus tours they booked. Every port had a bus waiting. Death bus. I wanted no part of it. I would have sooner chewed off my own hand than sit on a bus for half a day, listening to some ass drone on about history and culture and look at that bush and look at that fountain and look at that bridge. UGHHHH….
I’m older now. And let me tell you–Matt and I spent two days on tour busses listening to guides drone on about this and that, AND WE FUCKING LOVED IT. We went ALL IN on that tourist life, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Grandpa, I’m sorry for doubting you. You obviously knew what was up.
Day 1 Bus tour was The London Day Tour which included St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, The Tower of London, Thames Boat Ride, and The London Eye. The adventure began at 8:00 am, and BOY were we grumps waking up early. We somehow made it to the departure point, with time spare for coffee and a croissant.
Before I go on about our adventure, let me tell you about the coffee place where we got breakfast. It was one of those snooty organic places that I love, and they had all kinds of crunchy granola shit and organic bananas and fresh squeezed juice. I loved it, until I tried to order coffee. Just coffee–dark roast–but the barista looked at me like I was crazy. Like, how did I do this wrong? Did I stutter? Is there a magic word I didn’t say? Give me a fucking cup of coffee, PLEASE? She was like…do you want an Americano or a cappuccino or…? I’m like, NO–I want coffee in a cup with cream, if you have it. She said–actually said to me–WE DON’T MAKE CREAM HERE. Yes, I’m sure you don’t MAKE CREAM because I didn’t see a fucking cow any where when I walked in. Make cream. What does that even mean? GIVE IT TO ME BLACK THEN AND QUICK NOW BEFORE I USE ONE OF MY THREE RAGE TOKENS THIS TURN. Then I ate breakfast and all was right in the world.
At the bus terminal, we got in a huge line for a huge bus when an angel named Mark plucked us away from our impending misery and lead us away. Evidently the first coach was over-booked, so we got in with a smaller group in a much smaller bus. We loved Mark. He was funny and charming and had interesting anecdotes about everything. FOR INSTANCE. Did you know that the Waterloo bridge was constructed primarily by females? It’s known as the Ladies’ Bridge. And the classic red Telephone Booths (which date back to the 1950s) are listed as buildings in city guides. He was also very funny when he got a call from our original guide–Tish–who was looking for her wayward sheep:
“Hello Tish. Yes–I’ve taken them. I’m terribly sorry.” How cute is Mark?
Our first stop was St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was lovely, as Cathedrals usually are. No photos were allowed inside and honestly I’ve already forgotten what it looked like. Probably really neat. Princess Diana and Charles were married there, so maybe Google pictures of that. It’s known as “The People’s Church” and that’s why the “People’s Princess” wanted to be married there. There’s a huge memorial inside dedicated to the Duke of Wellington. Let me tell you–the Brits love that guy. Probably because they’d all be speaking French if it weren’t for him. His memorial took 50 years to complete. I’m pretty sure Wellington–like his actual body–is buried under the monument, so that’s pretty neat. OLD BONES. The organ in the church is over 300 years old. We didn’t get to hear it played, unfortunately, but we did get to hear the one at Westminster. (Wait till I tell you about that!)
The dome at St. Paul’s blew me away. It felt bigger and more impressive than St. Peter’s in the Vatican, but I have no idea which is actually bigger. I’m sure all the world’s Cathedrals meet once a year to have a dome pissing contest–we can check the results. In WWII, the dome was thankfully unscathed by all the bombings. Good thing because it weighs 65 thousand tons and probably would have obliterated the church had it fallen. The church is adorned with paintings which were originally muted to reflect the austerity of the church, but Queen Victoria found it too plain and commissioned the church to be redone in vibrant color. She sounds like a cool lady.
Here are some pictures of the outside:
ALSO outside, was an adorable little pastry shop called Paul’s. Our tour guide said that they had the richest, most decadent hot chocolate we would ever taste. I went in immediately. Mark did not lie. Mark would never lie. I also bought a giant raspberry macaroon that tasted like a sweet pink cloud of heaven.
After St. Paul’s, we headed to the Tourist Nightmare that is The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Let me just say–NO THANK YOU. There are a billion people who want to see this shit and I cannot tell you why. It’s just a bunch of dudes in fuzzy hats walking down the street and doing a little two-step in front of a palace. We took a bunch of selfies and inched our way out.
Note the Unicorn adornment on the palace gate. Tons of unicorns everywhere. And dragons. Must be a family crest British royalty thing. But I was like, LOOK–UNICORNS! Because I’m uncultured swine. The best part was the gorgeous garden outside the palace, and the fact that all the guards were mounted on horses.
But wait a sec–HOW MAGICAL IS THIS:
Here’s a pond and some trees and across the way SOME GIANT BUILDING THAT LOOKS LIKE IT ESCAPED FROM A FAIRY TALE. London’s like–no big. We got all kinds of cool shit.
So that was HALF OUR DAY. After the palace, we lost Mark. But we joined back up with Tish and she was pretty adorable. She carried an open duck umbrella so we could follow her like sheep. She was quite short. And Irish, so the umbrella was probably also to keep her fair skin out of the sun. We liked Tish too. But I’ll tell you about all of that in Part duex.