On our second day in London after grabbing pastries for breakfast we headed to the Golden Tours office to meet up with our group for the Total London Experience tour. We found our line and got in it and waited. The Total London Experience Tour with Golden Tours includes seeing Westminster Abbey, The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, entry to the Tower of London, entry to Saint Pauls Catherdral, a trip on a Thames River Cruise, and a flight in the London Eye. Lunch may or may not be included, you can pay to have lunch included or go elsewhere. Since STA paid and booked for our tours lunch wasn’t included in any of them, but after hearing about lunch from our tour guide we found him later, paid and added ourselves to the list by talking with our tour guide in the tombs of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Westminster Abbey is super cool, however the fine print of the tour if you look closely is “see Westminster Abbey”, which meant we looked at it as the bus drove past and sort of sadly waved, we didn’t get out or look around inside. But never fear I went back later, so expect a post later on about Westminster that isn’t just a quick look as we drove on by. Ah the trickery of word choice.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Saint Paul’s Cathedral came next and we went inside. It’s beautiful but it was a quick trip. Saint Paul’s Cathedral can be found on top of Ludgate Hill and it’s at the highest point of London. It opened in 1708, survived the London Fire and until 1962 it was the tallest building in London at 365 feet tall (111m.) It is still in use as a place of worship so sightseers are only allowed in during certain times for a price, it’s cheaper if you order your ticket online. Visitors can climb the dome up to a whispering gallery where you can whisper and a person on the other end (100 feet away) can hear you clearly. Climbing further brings guests to the top of the dome to enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of London at the Golden Gallery. We didn’t have time for either of these. It’s all stairs so keep that in mind when deciding to go up. There is also a touchscreen tour available and audio tours. I would suggest this rather than going with a guide, that way you can learn more about the cathedral and everything within it at your own pace. The touchscreen tour allows you to take a closer look at all of the art within the building, some of which are utterly amazing. There is a crypt that you can go to and we did do this, after sitting in some chairs and just staring up at the ceiling and all of the art on it. The crypt is the resting place of Lord Nelson who was killed in the Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Wellington the Iron Duke, and Sir Christopher Wren the architect of Saint Paul’s. Each of these tombs are unique, Lord Nelson’s is made of the wood from the ship he defeated and of a black marble sarcophagus that originally was for a cardinal. Lord wellington’s casket is cornish granite onto of lions. The architect of Saint Paul’s is marked by a stone and a latin epitaph “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you”. Many other people can be found in the tombs such as many artists, scientists, musicians, and sculptors.
It’s a cool place to go and look around, especially if you’re interested in cathedrals, art, or architecture.