Colette and I walked down to a store to fetch some food in the a.m. We went to sleep at around 3 a.m the previous night, and for whatever reason, we woke up at 7 a.m. On our jaunt, we stumbled across these little gems.
This vehicle, I call it a vehicle because I can't bring myself to call it a car, atleast straight-faced I can't, is manufactured by Mercedes-Benz and is called "Smart Car." It's a gas powered two-passenger car. They are quite popular and solicit a giggle from me everytime they drive by due to their diminutive stature. Mark says that parking is quite an issue around London and sometimes people will squeeze into a space already occupied by another car. For those of you keeping track at home, that makes 2 cars in one spot quite which is a definitive departure from your Cadillac Escalade's 2 parking spots for one car. A smart car is also capable of parking perpendicular to the side walk to fit into a small space as well. As you would guess, they hold up in a head on about as well as a wet paper bag in a tug of war contest. Mark says people don't mind the warning and still drive them on the freeway. Anyways, excellent fuel economy (60 mpg / US gallon) is apparently worth more then human life. At about 7.60 US dollar per gallon, they might have a solid arguement.
Then there was this little beast. There were no markings on it but I did see a registration sticker from Poland in the window. This rig makes the Festiva look like an Ford Excursion. As luck would have it, this auto was for sale but didn't list a price. Katja, Mark's girfriend, was talking about how she bought a new Peugot. She opted for the beefed up 1.6 liter diesel engine as opposed to the smaller 1.4 liter model. It kind of made me laugh because I said I had just changed the oil on my fathers 6.9 liter truck. Both asked why anyone would want such a rediculously large truck. I really didn't have a sound response.
Colette and I jumped on a double decker bus, always sitting on the top of course, for a trip into central London. A tube ride takes significantly less time at about 40 minutes. The bus, however, took about 1.5 hours. A nice thing about our bus card is that it caps out at 6 pounds. Which means you can ride the tube and the bus all day for a maximum 12 US dollars. The double decker busses are everywhere. At any given time, you could see up to 8 busses near you.
Through the back of the bus we spotted a bunch of horses marching towards Hyde Park. They serve some sort of police function.
This is Buckingham palace. Notice the flag on top of the palace. It signifies the presence of the queen, who the Brit's are quite fond of.
5 police officer's on BMW motorcyles hurried into the palace and standing guards cleared the way for this convoy that rushed the queen into Buckingham palace.
So i'm not sure what the story on these gaurds is but they do change out everyday at 11:30 a.m. and apparently, it's kind of a big deal. This was in the afternoon though. It seems at random they engage in a stomping and walking routine. Colette is convinced they have little buzzers in their pockets that initiates the sequence. I think she may be overthinking things.
Tourists were getting photo's with Deputy Dawg here, so I thought I would take a spin. Trying to get a smile out of the lad, I asked "Do you ever think about how many photo albums you are in?" to which he snidely replied, "I do not think much of the whole thing honestly." His demeanor reeked of "rent-a-cop" but the gun on his hip warned of "don't-make-me-abuse-my-power-punk."
Next on the stop was West Minster-Abby. This is a monster of a church. Just so happens that it was Rememberance Day. We ran into a veteran, moreso he cornered an unsuspecting audience, that gave us a very indepth verbal tutilage involving all things British military. Try as we did, we were unable to shake him. I have a feeling he had been hanging out all day giving impromptu, albeit unsolicited, tours. I don't mean to sound ungreatful, as he was very friendly but he stunk horribly of booze, repeated himself constantly, and made us ask him how he retained his "youthful apperance." I am glad he didn't ask us to ask him his age first off because he looked close to 90 as opposed to the 61 years of age he later revealed. I tried to get Colette to take a photo with him but she wouldn't take the bait. To give you a visual, think of Santa Clause sporting a whiskey nose smelling of Jameson.
Here are the Rememberance memorials. Each mini-cross represents a fallen soldier. Each large cross; a different division/regiment. The veteran that spoke to us said we could make a small donation and thez would give us a blank cross. Then there was a special section that we could place our cross to remember an American soldier who has given their life in Iraq, whom's name we would write on the cross.
Immediately after breaking our ties with our drunken British friend, we took this photo. While I am not sure of its name, it was directly west of West Minster-Abby church and was quite stunning in its own right.