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London ...

London is a leading global city in the arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, healthcare, media, professional services, research and development, tourism, and transportation. It is crowned as the world's largest financial center and has the fifth- or sixth-largest metropolitan area GDP in the world. London is a world cultural capital and is the world's most-visited city as measured by international arrivals.   Standing on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, first founded by the Romans after the invasion of 43 AD.   
We arrived in London by train from Cambridge before noon and started our own exploration of London's Tube (aka Underground) system.  Linus did not come with us to London since he still had a class in the morning.  He would come to join us for the Parliament tour later in the afternoon.

July 27 ...


The name Big Ben is often used to describe the tower and the clock at the north end of the Houses of Parliament , but the name was first given to the Great Bell.  The tower (315 feet / 96 meters) , completed in 1859, is officially known as Elizabeth Tower, renamed to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2012.
The Palace of Westminster (commonly known as the Houses of Parliament) is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.  The history of the Houses of Parliament spans over 900 years from the Anglo-Saxons to the present.  We met with Linus at the Westminster Hall when we started the Parliament audio tour.  The audio tour walked us through the Commons Chamber and the Lords Chamber to find out how Parliament works, and to follow in the footsteps of the Queen at the State Opening. The audio tour experience took around 60 to 75 minutes and allowed us to go at our own pace.



I booked the tour plus afternoon tea so we could have a special afternoon tea served in a Thames-side room.   Parliament’s award winning chefs have created a tempting seasonal menu of savouries and sweets made freshly on site which combines tradition with a modern twist. Beverages include a large selection of luxury teas and freshly brewed coffee.






July 28 ...





Buckingham Palace is the working headquarters of the Monarchy, where The Queen carries out her official and ceremonial duties as Head of State of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth.  Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today's palace was a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703.   It was acquired by King George III in 1761 as a private residence for Queen Charlotte and became known as The Queen's House. Buckingham Palace became the London residence of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837.
Every summer (from July to September) the palace and some state rooms are open for public.  Linus and us met in the palace after we entered for our scheduled tour time at 12:00PM.  The photography is still not allowed inside the palace and state rooms.  We could only take pictures at the end of the tour when we were outside in the garden.  However, I forgot to retrieve my checked-in camera bag when we walked out to the garden, so we had to go around the palace after exit to go back to the entrance to get my bag (it made our schedule quite tight to catch the train to our next destination Canterbury ...).








July 29 ...





It was a special family bike day in London that many roads were blocked for bike only.














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