My entry point was through the ubiquitous London tourist bus, where the cheery tour guide made it a point to ask everyone where they came from. I said Manila, he said “Philippines, what a lovely country!” Aww, I thought--then he said the same thing to a pair of girls from Brazil and a middle-aged couple from Croatia.
One of the bus stops is beside the Ritz Hotel. You're given the option to get off here, enter a side street that winds along Green Park where lots of Londoners were taking in the soft afternoon sun, and emerge on the courtyard of Buckingham Palace. Afterwards, you can go back to the same stop and wait for the next red bus to pick you up for the rest of the city tour. (The ticket is for one day of hop-on, hop-off activities; you can customize where you want to go or what you want to check out. Neat.)
A bend in the park trail, and there it was--OMG, the palace. Breathtaking. It's around 2 p.m. as I reached the courtyard; the sky was overcast, but lucky for us there was no rain. Pictures and more pictures: the Victoria monument, the gilded gates, the balcony where Charles and Diana executed the first royal public kiss, the palace guards in their crimson uniforms, the flowerbeds, the avenue bristling with banners that I learned later on led to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.
Done, I asked a guide where the palace tour started. Go to the side, I was told. A side gate led to a covered area where one could buy tickets and fall in line. If you carried a camera, young men and women in spiffy royal-blue uniforms went up to you to say, in a crisp but courteous manner, that no pictures were allowed from hereon.
So, for a description of what I saw inside and the background of all of it, I'll let the Palace-run Royal Collection website do the talking:
Buckingham Palace serves as both the office and London residence of Her Majesty The Queen, as well as the administrative headquarters of the Royal Household. It is one of the few working royal palaces remaining in the world today.
Today the State Rooms are used extensively by The Queen and Members of the Royal Family to receive and entertain their guests on State, ceremonial and official occasions. During August and September when The Queen makes her annual visit to Scotland, the Palace's nineteen state rooms are open to visitors.
The State Rooms form the heart of the working palace and are lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection--paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Poussin and Canaletto; sculpture by Canova; exquisite examples of Sèvres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture.
Let me reel off snapshots in my head of the palace interiors, some of which were also glimpsed during the Kate-William wedding: the vast ochre-colored inner courtyard that's the first thing you'll see upon entering the palace grounds; the majestic staircase designed by John Nash; all manner of splendidly appointed state rooms, one of which was described as the room where the Queen receives the new UK Prime Minister (reminded me of that scene in The Queen when the Blairs first paid their respects to Elizabeth I); richly carpeted hallways, magnificently embellished ceilings, countless artworks. All of them, by the way, excellently annotated by an electronic Walkman-like tour guide that allowed you to zoom in for a short discussion on, say, a painting or a piece of furniture with a touch of a button. Kainggit--because this part is something we could do as well even with minimal resources.
I couldn't take pictures, as I said, so here's the next best thing: The official website of the British Monarchy provides an interactive 360-degree view of four palace tour highlights: the Grand Staircase, the Throne Room, the Blue Drawing Room and the White Drawing Room. Here.
At the end of the tour, you're let off at the back of the palace, where there's a cafe, rest rooms, a souvenir shop, and a garden leading out to a London street.
The garden, apparently, is a precious retreat. Again, from the Royal Collection website:
Described as a 'walled oasis in the middle of London', the Palace's garden is home to thirty different species of bird and more than 350 different wild flowers, some extremely rare. Visitors end their tour with a walk along the south side of the garden, with splendid views of the west front of the Palace and the famous lake.
A walk through this cool, shady patch of green--it was nippy September last year when I did this tour--is just the right reinvigorating cap to that fascinating but also rather exhausting trek through man-made splendor. My reward to myself: a cup of strawberry ice cream stamped--what else--Buckingham Palace.
These articles might interest you :
Here, we give you the latest news and goings-on in the industry. You must've heard of La Tomatina (the crazy and super fun festival in Valencia where... Read moreBy Jaclynsindia
Here, we give you the latest news and goings-on in the industry. The Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom is a 5-star, state-of-the-art hotel in the heart of Vienna -... Read moreBy Jaclynsindia
Sunday we went took another Black Taxi Ride, went to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Princess Diana's Memorial, walked along the parks, and had high tea a... Read moreBy Ladyexpat
EXPAT, FAMILY, TRAVEL
One of the things I discovered about Korea when I arrived here was how old it is. Coming from Canada, a country that was founded in 1867, the age of Korea... Read moreBy Theplaceswevebeen
Apart from working at Expanish, my dream job would be writing a blog about celebrity gossip. It is mostly a pipe dream since people like Perez Hilton and TMZ... Read moreBy Expanishargentina
CELEB, DESTINATIONS, ENTERTAINMENT, LANGUAGES, TRAVEL
Emirates Palace is an iconic landmark managed by Kempinski in Abu Dhabi representing luxury at its best. It is located on sandy beach spanning 1.3 km along... Read moreBy Saharg
ARCHITECTURE, CULTURE, DESTINATIONS, INTERIOR DESIGN, TRAVEL
Tweet So you’re just starting to get the hang of the vos, all the weird “shhh”-ing, and the crazy lunfardo of the city of Buenos Aires. Your next destination o... Read moreBy Expanishargentina
DESTINATIONS, LANGUAGES, TRAVEL
MOST POPULAR FROM TRAVEL
- 5 Cajun Restaurants for a Mardi Gras Feast in Chicago by Urbanmatter Chicago
- How to Get a Thai Tourist Visa in Manila by Harvie
- ROOTS:BALI WOODEN ART SCULPTORS MADE FROM TREE ROOTS by Tobeontheroad
- Dove fare colazione a Milano. Where to have breakfast in Milan” by Xxlauraxx
MOST RECOMMENDED IN TRAVEL
- Ravinia Announces Presale Tickets for OneRepublic, John Legend, and More by Urbanmatter Chicago
- Why Travel to Isaan: Thailand’s Countryside by Tielandtothailand
- Living “Pura Vida”: Tips for Healthy Travel and Adventure in Costa Rica by Healthytravelblog
- The Chicago Art & Design Show is All-New at Navy Pier This Spring by Urbanmatter Chicago