London...April 24th, 2011...Part 1

The plan was to wake up very early at 6:30am and leave to Westminster Abbey for an Easter Sunday Eucharist Service at 8:00 am.    From there Alex would run back to get the tickets for the cruise while the children and I walked to Buckingham Palace for the Changing of the Guards ceremony where Alex would meet us by 10:00 am  After that we would go take the cruise to Greenwich to the Prime Meridian and stand on two hemispheres.  Later we'd go pick up the rental car at Hertz and pick up our bags at the hotel and then be on our way to Windsor around noon.

This is what actually happened (which gives you an idea of why my "to do" list never gets done and just keeps growing and growing.  I think I just don't know how to manage my time very well, or I think I can do much more than I really can in the amount of time I have):

Easter Sunday, April 24th, 2011
We woke up around 6:15 am, dressed and went downstairs for the buffet breakfast (the dining room was empty so we had the buffet all to ourselves) lines.
We ate quickly and rushed out to find a taxi to take us over the bridge to Westminster Abbey.

 We arrived 25 minutes early and had to wait about 10 minutes outside with a small group of worshipers for the gates to be opened.  Around 7:45am, someone opened the gate and let us in.  Of course I tried to take photographs of this spectacular building...I was reprimanded and reminded that since I was there for the service, I would not be able to take photographs (I was able to take two before).

The group that was waiting walked in and attempted to sit in the choir box, but again the gentleman corrected us and told us all to move to the chairs that were closest to the altar.  We all obliged.  The service was similar to a Catholic Mass but there was no homily although the Gospel was read, there was a first reading, but no second reading and no singing.  There were no Eucharistic ministers either- the priest gave Communion to each person himself (approximately 70 attendees). 
After the service the priest greeted everyone individually at the door, he blessed my daughter and we walked out.  He called for us to return so Alissa could get an Easter egg from a lady with a basket.    Both of my children went back in to get their eggs.  What a beautiful experience! Although very simple, the service touched me!!! 
<<<Note:  I sat in the chair where Pippa (Kate's sister) sat at the Royal Wedding.  My family sat next to me to the right, which is where the children in the wedding court sat during the Royal Wedding. >>>

The moment of our separation came...Alex would go for the river tickets and the children and I would go to Buckingham Palace where we'd all reunite by 10:00am.

Preparations for the Royal Wedding

  We got directions from the guards at the Abbey and walked along Great Smith St. and Great George St. to Horse Guards Road bordering St. James's Park.

  We went by the Household Cavalry Museum and Horse Guards. I hesitated and considered staying to see the Changing of the Guards there at 10:00 am, but since the one at Buckingham Palace was at 10:00am and I had no way of reaching Alex, the children and I walked and  took pictures in St.James's Park.

 We headed to the Palace through the Mall. 

As we approached the palace we noticed the  many media stands and "scaffolding-like stands" where journalists from all over the world would be in just a few days for the Royal wedding.

 We had seen similar stands along the road across the street from Westminster Abbey and along Great George ST and Parliament Square.  At Buckingham Palace, the media area was different, a little more elegant draped with green fabric and awnings and "quasi"  sets for taping live shows. 

We miraculously found Alex...I was starting to fear we had made a mistake and would never find each other in that mess. We saw a changing of the guards at 10:00 am (I read in a magazine that during the spring the changing of the guards on Sundays is at 10:00am.

 It turns out that was wrong.  The changing of the guards was not until 11:30 (someone overheard us and set us straight).  We hesitated and struggled with the decision should we wait 1.5 hours more or should we just skip it.  We decided to stay.  We lost our standing area right by the palace gate but later we found front row room in front of the fountain facing the gates. 

Prime location...we had an excellent position.  We were corralled and led around but eventually we ended up in front of the gates in the center.
We saw the processions, the marching bands, the guards, all the pageantry. It was a memorable event, one not soon forgotten, that coupled with the upcoming royal wedding I'm sure will live in our memories forever.

I reminded everyone to look carefully at the balcony because we'd see all these things in a few days on TV during the Royal Wedding coverage.

After we walked along the palace garden and through the Green Park to the Big Bus stop.  Alissa stopped a million times to pick up dandelions and blow the puffy area all over the place.  She collected them throughout London, she really enjoyed blowing the seeds all over London.  I enjoyed watching her and taking beautiful pictures of her doing it.
I didn't have photos of the dandelions alone but I had these beautiful tulips so I included them.

 We climbed aboard and rode to the Marble Arch where we were dropped off to pick up our rental car at Hertz.  While Alex went into Hertz, I walked across the street with Alissa and Jake and ordered a pizza for lunch at L'artista Pizza and Piadina Restaurant.  We sat down to a very simple lunch of Margherita pizza and water.  The place was very simple but the pizza was very good.

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