London – Day 3 – Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

Day 1 and Day 2 lead us to some of the London sights that you supposedly HAVE to see; and, yeah, you kind of do.  So we’ve been to Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare’s Globe, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, and several interesting skyscrapers…whew…that’s a lot for 2 days!  What else could Day 3 possibly bring…


Day 3 – London – 4/2/2016

Our first priority on day 3 was going to meet a friend.  We were meeting up with our friend at Paddington Station, which was nice since it put us very close to Hyde Park.  We wanted to go to the park anyway, so this gave us an excuse to head that way.  But Brittany and I are apparently stuck on a skipping record; instead of going right to Paddington Station…we got lost.  This time, though, it wasn’t entirely our fault (or the fault of our map app leading us in an entirely wrong direction).  Much like most of Naples, Italy, there is a ton of construction going on in London.  You can see multiple cranes in some of our pictures, but we tried our best to angle them so the construction would not be seen.  I feel like if we came back to London as early as next year, some areas would look completely different…Paddington Station is one of those areas.  We were even supposed to be able to take the Underground near our house (Bakerloo Line) directly to Paddington, but renovations were being done on that stop starting 4/2/16…the day we were going.  So we got off “near” Paddington and walked.  We walked down one street near the station where 100% of the buildings were 100% covered in scaffolding…seriously…that makes finding your way almost impossible.  We did finally make it to Paddington Station, though.

Paddington Station

The first underground railway station was opened at Paddington by the Metropolitan Railway on January 10, 1863.  Aside from that little tidbit, we wanted to see Paddington Station for its fictional history…such as being used in the Agatha Christie novel 4.50 from Paddington, or Sherlock and John using the station in Sherlock, but most importantly it’s where our friend Paddington Bear was first found…

We met up with Paddington Bear (who just happened to have his book of adventures with him), and decided he should come home with us because we know where he might find a good home back in America with a certain “tiny human” that loves books…

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After meeting up with Paddington Bear, we decided to head to another “must see” area…although not one that you’ll find on many tours.  On our map it looked like a fairly short walk through a piece of Kensington Gardens, so we walked.  Our map lied.  It wasn’t a short walk, but it was a nice one.  The gardens were beautiful…people were out running, riding their bikes / scooters, laying in the sun reading, etc.  It was a beautiful day, and this glimpse of the park was nice…we were excited to get back after our other little venture to Earl’s Court where we found the…

TARDIS!!!

In case you don’t know, TARDIS is an acronym for Time And Relative Dimension In Space.  It is the preferred space (and time) traveling method for the Doctor.  We’re not sure if this one is bigger on the inside…it was locked 😦

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Brittany might be a little obsessed with being taken along (a la Jack Harkness)…

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To do Brittany’s obsession justice, I’ve decided to post a blog (when I’m done with our vacation blogs) about all the Doctor Who related things we’ve done on our European adventure.

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Paddington Bear thinks he should be the next Doctor…

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I was (eventually) able to drag Brittany away from the TARDIS, and we headed back to the park.  We entered at the south-western gate so that meant we were near Kensington Palace.

Kensington Palace

The palace began as a two story mansion built in 1605.  In 1689, King William III and Queen Mary II purchased the residence and hired Sir Christopher Wren to expand the house.  The palace served as residence for King William III and Queen Mary II, as well as, Queen Anne, King George I, and King George II.  Queen Victoria lived there as a child, and Charles and Diana lived after they were married (Diana actually lived there until her death in 1997). (Wikipedia)

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The front of the palace with a statue of Queen Victoria…

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Hyde Park

Connected to Kensington Gardens is Hyde Park (I actually didn’t know they were officially two parks until doing this research).  Hyde Park is 350 acres.  Kensington Gardens is 275 acres.  So, in total, the park is 625 acres…and it feels this large when you start walking around in it.

The Serpentine (a created lake) runs through the park, and gave us a nice opportunity to sit and relax for a while.

A row of gulls all nice and lined up for me…

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A view of the Italian Garden through the trees…

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There’s also a statue of Peter Pan in the park donated by the author, J.M. Barrie…

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According to RoyalParks.org.uk, “J.M. Barrie lived close to Kensington Gardens and published his first Peter Pan story in 1902, using Kensington Gardens for inspiration.  In his Peter Pan tale, The Little White Bird, Peter flies out of his nursery and lands beside the Long Water (part of the same body of water as the Serpentine). The statue is located on this exact spot.”

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In the Kensington Gardens area of the park, you will also find the Albert Memorial.

The Albert Memorial

“The Albert Memorial is located in Kensington Gardens on Albert Memorial Road opposite the Royal Albert Hall.  It is one of London’s most ornate monuments, designed by George Gilbert Scott.  Unveiled in 1872, The Albert Memorial commemorates the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, who died of typhoid fever at the age of 42.

Officially titled the Prince Consort National Memorial, it celebrates Victorian achievement and Prince Albert’s passions and interests.  The memorial shows Prince Albert holding the catalogue of the Great Exhibition, held in Hyde Park in 1851, which he inspired and helped to organize.

Marble figures representing Europe, Asia, Africa, and America stand at each corner of the memorial, and higher up are further figures representing manufacture, commerce, agriculture and engineering. Yet further up, near the top, are gilded bronze statues of the angels and virtues.  All around the base of the memorial the Parnassus frieze depicts celebrated painters, poets sculptors, musicians and architects, reflecting Albert’s enthusiasm for the arts. There are 187 exquisitely carved figures in the frieze.” (RoyalParks.org.uk)

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Prince Albert…

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The discussed four marble statues representing America…

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Europe…

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Asia…

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and Africa…

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And across the street, the Royal Albert Hall, which opened in 1871.

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We took a break on the steps of the Albert Memorial to watch a game of street hockey. (Go Preds!)

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After our break, we walked all the way through the southern, outer perimeter of the park, and then made our way north to the Marble Arch entrance.

Marble Arch

The Marble Arch is a triumphal arch that was originally located at Buckingham Palace.  The arch was completed in 1833, but by 1851 it had been disassembled and reconstructed at its present location.  Across the street from the arch is the “former site of the Tyburn gallows (sometimes called ‘Tyburn Tree’), a place of public executionfrom 1388 until 1793.”  There are three small trees marking the site now. (Wikipedia)

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The topper on a lamp inside the arch…

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A sculpted face on the Hyde Park side of the arch…

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The Marble Arch used to be part of Hyde Park, but Park Lane (the road running beside the arch) was widened and improved, which meant dividing the arch from the park.  Now the arch is on its own little grassy island.

It’s also apparently the place to go if you want to feed pigeons.  This photo doesn’t do justice to the massive amount of pigeons here, but it gives you an idea…

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Brittany, a lover of ALL animals, was very happy to sit in the pigeon strewn park…

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Another sculpture inhabits the Marble Arch island…Still Water.  And though you can’t see it in the photo, this is apparently where drunks like to come and pass out.  There were four or five drunk guys passed out around the base of the statue.

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Speaking of, as a side note, it’s kind of interesting…we’ve been in Europe for 7 months now (at least Brittany has), and in our 3 days of London we have seen more drunks than we have in our entire time in Italy. (We also saw more piles of retch in London that we ever wanted to see.)  It’s interesting how different the culture is between the two places.  We could definitely see some of the English side of the American family tree in this…


It started raining at this point, and though it was still reasonably early, we headed back over to Piccadilly Circus where we could find food and a few shops to escape the rain.  We went back to the M&M store…

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…melts in your mouth, not in your Han…classic…

We also walked around the Nickelodeon store and a few places in Chinatown before deciding what to do for the rest of the evening.

It was actually ‘raining’ raining by this time, meaning more than sprinkling…more than drizzling…like full on umbrella rain.  So we got Tex-Mex at T.G.I. Friday’s (I know…I know…but it was warm and dry) and then went to see a movie.  Now I’d like to say that we we went to see something classy or artistic, but we didn’t.  We went to see…

Deadpool!

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And it was fantastic…

So long Day 3.  We had a great time with Paddington Bear…and seeing the TARDIS was ‘fantastic’…the park was a nice change of pace…and sitting down for a movie was great for our feet…

Now on to Day 4

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