Cheesy as it may be, it couldn't be called a complete day of tourism without a visit to the royals!
So from Westminster, I crossed over to the park and cruised along The Mall to Buckingham Palace.
Flag is up, queen is in!
There were actually fewer people ogling the "palace" than I expected, especially in the middle of summer, but I managed to find a tour group to latch onto for a few minutes until the guide noticed me lingering toward the back and drove me away with his scowl. There really isn't that much to see at BP, so I took some pics, hung out with these dudes for a while, and then it was time to bounce.
Spent about 30 minutes reading in the lovely St. James Park before I spotted the grouchy tuppence collector headed toward me and had to make a run for it. Ain't no way I'm paying to sit in a chair in a public park! Got my photo op and I'm done, thankyouverymuch.
Then it was off to indulge in some touristy souvenir shopping at the overwhelmingly fancy Fortnum & Mason.
There is SO MUCH to look at in the Picadilly store - 5 stories of tasty treats, beautifully packaged chocolates and fruit spreads and loose teas, intricate kitchen displays, an amazing collection of hand-painted, whimsical teapots; plus, a gourmet grocery store AND posh wine bar on the lower level, as well as a cheerful cafe at the very top.
Spent most of my time drooling at the confectionery and admiring the Mad for Tea Exhibition. Those lucky enough to be on the souvenir recipient list will be enjoying: the Queen's Breakfast Blend tea, traditional shortbread (handmade in Edinburgh), Old English Hunt Marmelade and Blackcurrent Preserves.
HA. Couldn't resist.
Had one really fun, fancy dinner with coworkers, at a place called Bob Bob Ricard, where there's a button at each table which can be pressed to request champagne and a gentleman will roll up with a little cocktail cart.
Was definitely ready to head home to my own bed at the end of the week and, coincidentally, ended up flying back to the states on the 4th of July (scheduled my arrival to allow for plenty of time to go see fireworks, but fell asleep on the couch at 7pm and did wake up until the following morning!).
On the way to the train station, final cruise past Buckingham to bid the queen farewell.
Pretty, pretty leftover money.
Catching the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station.
Gone for longer than 3 days, must bring gifts! Cue last-minute airport shopping.
Got awesomely lucky on my flight home - upgraded to business class AND nobody sat in the seat next to me, score! We were served several delicious meals, including afternoon tea and bottomless mimosas, and I took thorough advantage of everything on offer, even managing to watch four movies over the course of the flight. Yes, I sang right along with Les Mis all the way through. No, there were no complaints.
Finally home! Now off to June Lake in a week...