The 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s throne deserves a befitting celebration! Nobody can miss such a historically significant event.Älgbert Elgson
After a long time of waiting it was time for us again and we went on our next adventure. This time we should go to the capital of the United Kingdom, London. We didn’t choose this place by chance, because right at the time of our trip, Queen Elizabeth II was celebrating her Platinum Jubilee with many celebrations that we didn’t want to miss.
Our experiences on this trip are described below in the form of a travel diary.
Thursday, 2.June 2022
Now it’s finally that time again: We’re going far away and have an adventure. This time there is even a historic event, one that can only happen once in a lifetime, and that is the seventieth jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. So our trip could only lead to venerable London, the capital of the United Kingdom.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born on April 21, 1926 and was crowned Queen by the untimely death of her father in 1952 to almost a third of the world’s population at the time. During her long reign she confidently led Great Britain, the Commonwealth and the monarchy through all the difficulties and mastered all the tasks that history had thrown at her.
We had to leave our warm bed far too early to get to the airport in time for our plane. With the Italian punctuality of AirDolomiti, we took off ten minutes before the actually scheduled departure for our first stopover at Frankfurt Airport. The flight was (fortunately) extremely uneventful, but we noticed an innovation in air travel: amenities such as lukewarm food and tomato juice are only available in return for monetary compensation. The world won’t be the same after this…
The flight to London with Lufthansa took off half an hour late with German punctuality. Wait, there must be a mistake… The Italians are on time and the Germans too late? There must have been a jump in the space-time continuum or a change to a parallel world without anyone noticing. Well no matter! In any case, we arrived safely in London. After a taste of the British’s favorite pastime at passport control (getting in line and waiting), we arrived at Paddington Station in the heart of London after a short train ride on the Heathrow Express.
Due to various delays, however, the arrival was a little later than originally planned by us and so the celebrations had long since begun when we made our way towards Buckingham Palace and The Mall. The streets were packed with people, all just wanting a glimpse of the Queen and her family. The Mall and the parks with the public viewing screens were hopelessly overcrowded, so the police had to block the entrances. For reasons inexplicable to us, however, it was not allowed to enter the area if others had come out of it and the total number of people in it would have remained the same. There was only one thing left for us: to flee to the rear… of the Buckingham Palace. There we were favored by Fortuna and were able to take a quick look at some members of the royal family who drove past us in their royal carriages and waved. After so much excitement, enthusiasm and many kilometers of walking through the city, we ended the day with English cuisine and expect more remarkable memories for tomorrow that we can save in our heads.
Friday, 3.June 2022
A new day has dawned and with it a new chance to see the royal family. Last night we found out that the first day of the celebrations has been very long for the Queen and that is why she is exceptionally canceling church today. Even if this didn’t necessarily increase our chances of seeing the Queen with our own eyes during our stay, we still happily set out on foot from our hotel to St. Paul’s Cathedral. This time we happened to take exactly the right turns and came straight to the Royals‘ route. After only a very short waiting time of less than an hour, we were able to see the first vehicles. Although we weren’t the only ones wanting to watch cars drive by, this time we managed to get a front row standing place and had a perfect view of the street. With the camera firmly at the ready, we lay in wait. They all came with their luxurious carriages: Harry, Meghan, William, the beautiful Catherine and also Charles and Camilla. There surely must have been other people there too.
When everyone had disappeared into the large church, the female travel companion wanted to change location. Perhaps there would be an even better look at the royal family elsewhere. So, on the advice of Constable McCarthy, we switched to the back of St. Paul’s Cathedral. After a short wait of just over an hour, we actually got to see them again. The vehicles drove past us in about 20 seconds and were photographed as well and accurately as possible by the Älg and his companions.
After that we were supposed to continue with our plan of the day, but due to the fact that we hadn’t really made a firm plan, we took inspiration from the surroundings and strolled around the city center for a bit. Covered markets, old churches and „the Gherkin“ were on the route that led us to the Tower of London. We hadn’t reserved tickets, but we wanted to try our luck. Due to the high demand, tickets are only sold in so-called time slots in order to be able to better control the flow of visitors. Unfortunately, we had to learn that the „Superbloom“, the sea of flowers in the moat of the Tower of London, is completely sold out until June 16th. However, a quick look over the opaque fence told us that this shouldn’t really be a big loss for us. The actual sea of flowers currently looks more like a few flowers on a bare meadow. Nevertheless, this has shown us that we absolutely have to get tickets for the tower.
After this small defeat, it was time for the Älg travel group to get their money’s worth. The journey went to a nearby bridge and due to its proximity to the Tower of London and the fact that it has two tall towers, it has been called Tower Bridge since it opened on June 30, 1894. The bridge’s lifting mechanism was powered by steam engines until 1976. These highly interesting machines, at least for some of the tour group, were analyzed down to the smallest screw. The artistically painted machine made of tons of steel, brass and ingenuity represents a technological masterpiece of its time. The complex and at the same time simple solution works to this day without major incidents worth mentioning. We ended the evening with a cocktail and Spanish tunes at a party near Tower Bridge before we went back to the hotel. Tomorrow will be exciting again and we will take every chance we are given to see the Queen with our own eyes.
Saturday, 4.June 2022
Today is the birthday of the male travel companion of Älgbert. We won’t say how old he got, but he got old. At least it has peaked and it’s going downhill from now on. How could one celebrate such a milestone birthday properly? You go to see a big old church and an old parliament building!
So we went to Westminster Abbey first. This ancient sacred building has played a central role in the country’s history for around a thousand years. Around 960 a forerunner of a Benedictine monastery was built at the current location. In the 1040s, Edward the Confessor moved his residence to the immediate vicinity of the building and had the monastery expanded into a representative Romanesque style abbey between 1045 and 1065.
Westminster Abbey has been expanded and remodeled over time, but traditions remain. (Almost) all kings were crowned here. Most of the heads of the country, as well as important personalities, were buried here.
The Palace of Westminster is located in the immediate vicinity of Westminster Abbey. Originally a royal seat, it quickly became the center of power for that very reason. The kings were advised in the great hall named Westminster Hall, incidentally the largest self-supporting one in the Middle Ages. This quickly developed into England’s first parliament, which today is divided into the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This separation is not only noticeable in the way it works, which is far too complicated and steeped in tradition and rituals to be able to explain it briefly, but also in the equipment. While the House of Commons, i.e. the house of the ordinary, is kept in simple green and decorated more functionally, the House of Lords shines in royal red and gold. The entire parliament looks like a time capsule that has been carefully modernized.
The main point of today, however, was the big concert in the evening. In honor of the Queen, music greats such as Queen (the band, not herself), Rod Steward, Elton John and this year’s Great Britain participant in the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 performed in front of Buckingham Palace. An imposing stage was built around the Victoria Memorial exclusively for this event and grandstands were set up around it with a capacity of 22,000 people. The tickets were raffled off to essential workers, i.e. important workers during the Corona incident. In addition, the entire „The Mall“ was equipped with screens and loudspeakers to give many other interested people the opportunity to listen to this unique concert. Countless people didn’t miss this opportunity and we were right in the middle of it instead of just being there. The atmosphere was electrifying and the entire crowd joined in the songs. An incredible feeling to be part of such a big whole. Members of the royal family paid their respects to the Queen in touching and admiring speeches. At the end, hundreds of drones were used to draw pictures in the night sky instead of the usual fireworks, to the cheers of the crowd. It was definitely a remarkable experience for everyone involved that will be remembered for a long time. Tonight is hard to beat, but we look forward to what the new day may bring us.
Sunday, 5.June 2022
The celebrations in honor of the Queen drew to a close today. But at the end of the day, a grand finale was to be the crowning climax. Today’s point of the day was therefore also for us the Jubilee Peagant – the big parade.
So we set out to get a good seat along the long street „The Mall“. After only almost three hours of waiting in one place, the parade could already begin. About 1,800 soldiers from the British armed forces, supported by about 500 horses and several guns, made the start, followed by soldiers from the Commonwealth States. An impressive spectacle was offered to all spectators and the military bands passed us to thunderous applause. The Scottish bagpipe players left the most lasting impression on us with their martial-sounding musical instruments. Maybe it’s time to get such a musical instrument and learn to play the bagpipes.
After the military musical interlude, selected groups were also able to show their gratitude and honor to the Queen. It all started with cyclists, who, like in normal traffic, drove back and forth through each other and claimed the entire street for themselves. Historical motorcycles and cars, which were supposed to represent the course and progress of British technology through the years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign (one vehicle needed some help form of gentle pushes because it refused to function), then drove past us in a convoy before the double-decker buses got there. These were also historical vehicles and stylistically based on the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 2010s. The buses were accompanied by dancers dressed according to the epoch. The various groups that came after put a lot of time and effort into their costumes. A giant dragon, which incidentally is one of the largest human-powered puppets, started things off, followed by „Her Majesty’s Beasts“. Each kingdom of the United Kingdom has its own heraldic animal. Scottish unicorns, Welsh dragons, Northern Irish elk and English lions passed us.
After many more groups, we spotted something we no longer dared to dream: The Queen’s flag was flying over Buckingham Palace.
When the last group passed us, the barriers were removed and we were allowed to advance to the stage at the Victoria Monument. The fact that Ed Sheeran warbled another song quickly became a minor matter for us. We knew the Queen had to be present because of the flag on the roof. Many of the spectators couldn’t hold on any longer and literally ran to the front. Everyone just wanted one thing: to see her.
Ed Sheeran performed his song „Perfect“. His performance has been accompanied by images of the Queen over the years. This was understood by all viewers as an allusion to her deceased husband and rewarded with applause.
And then came what everyone had come for and yet no one really believed could happen: She appeared. In green. On the balcony.
The crowd could hold no longer. The Queen was visibly touched by the amount of people who came just to see her. Unfortunately, after just a few moments, the magic was over, the Queen disappeared behind the curtain and the crowd slowly dispersed.
A happily grinning female Älg companion and overjoyed Älg had to really process the moment. We’ve seen the Queen.
After a long exploratory walk through the district of Vauxhall, we returned to our hotel with a small detour via a local Korean food establishment and let the day end comfortably. Tomorrow we will explore the Tower of London and take a look at the Queen’s Crown Jewels.
Monday, 6.June 2022
We overslept. Well, actually not really overslept, but we just walked too late from the hotel to the Tower of London. The ticketing system in London provides a certain time slot in which you can appear in order to be able to control the number of visitors and ours almost coincided with the opening of the tower for visitors in the morning. Due to the poorly chosen time of our departure from the hotel and the fact that we found the way to our destination in a somewhat awkward manner, the clock was already a little late and actually outside our time window. However, the ticket inspectors didn’t really pay attention and we were allowed to enter the Tower of London building complex. An impressive building dating back to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror. He wanted to consolidate his fragile newly won power with an impressive building. He chose a perfect spot on a small hill on the Thames, which the Romans used to fortify Londinium.
Anyone who builds such an impressive building also wants to live in it. As a result, the Towers were fitted with luxurious amenities such as large chimney fireplaces, a game-changing new development in housing at the time, and private toilets in key rooms. This too was an unprecedented novelty in England. However, over time this was no longer enough and a new Royal Palace and other defenses had to be built so that many generations of royal families could live here. However, the Tower of London is most famous for its function as a prison, although it was never designed for that purpose. The prisoners were thus often simply locked up in the towers of the defense system.
However, kings and queens do not necessarily want to live in the neighborhood of criminals and traitors and so the place of residence was changed. Of course, such a large building complex cannot stand empty, so a new use for the huge facility had to be found. Without further ado, the military and the Office of Ordnance moved in there. The buildings had to be adapted for the new use and the former royal palace in the Tower of London finally became an armory, after some rooms had previously been used for this purpose. Powder kegs were now stored in the former assembly hall and new buildings were built in the north of the area to accommodate the soldiers. Today this building houses the Queen’s Crown Jewels Collection. The largest and most sparkling gems can be found here, and amounts of gold that a normal Älg could not imagine. He would have loved to have taken everything home with him and incorporated it into his own collection, but the safety devices of centimeter-thick armored glass panes and steel doors, as well as the watchful eyes of the many guards, were unavoidable even for our Älg.
Today, small exhibitions on the history of the Tower of London are housed in the towers of the outer wall, such as the methods of torture, the way of life of the kings, the long history of coinage that was only allowed to take place here and the tragic stories of the many prisoners who had to live and often also had to die here.
When we asked the ticket office how long it would take to tour the facility, we were told that two to three hours would be enough. We spent the whole day in the facility and still had the feeling that we hadn’t even started to see everything, but the advanced hours forced us to leave due to the closure. But we should come back, but more on that later.
First our bellies needed to be filled with nutritious and tasty English food, so we made our way to an establishment opposite the Tower on the other side of the Thames. This quaint and traditional-looking restaurant had a new-fangled way of ordering, which we hope will be adapted at home as well. You order there by scanning a QR code, which opens a website on which the menu appears on your mobile phone screen. All you have to do is to select the product you want to order and then pay with just a few clicks. A few moments later, a waiter or waitress appears and brings the ordered food and drinks. You never have to wait for a waiter or waitress pays attention to you and you are finally „allowed“ to order or pay.
After the meal came the real highlight of the day: The Ceremony of The Keys. This is a 700-year-old tradition in which the tower guards lock everything and hand over the keys. This tradition has never been left out over the years. Only once did German bombers cause a seven-minute delay when a bomb exploded just meters from the Yeoman Wardens performing the ceremony, and the injured had to be treated first. The ceremony, however, went ahead anyway. A letter of apology was sent to the king that the ceremony was delayed due to the attack. The King then sent a reply saying that the delay was excusable due to the circumstances, but that the Yeoman Warden have to take care in the future that this should not happen again.
The ceremony itself is a very exclusive event. The tickets available are very limited and must be purchased in advance through the official website, where you must also register. Due to the limited number, these are usually sold out months in advance and we were really lucky to be able to get hold of two for us. Unfortunately, the website does not describe where the meeting point with the Yeoman Warden is. So if any of our readers are also lucky enough to get tickets -> The meeting point for The Ceremony of the Keys is at the Middle Tower on the western side of the complex.
After this special experience, we walked a few kilometers back to the hotel and fell asleep (very) tired and satisfied.
Beautiful stones in pleasing shapes
Tuesday, 7.June 2022
Yesterday and the past week have left their mark. Due to the distances and the fact that we actually do everything on foot, blisters have slowly but surely formed on the soles of our feet. That’s why we decided to take it a little shorter today and keep the walking distances as short as possible. So the plan for the day was to visit a church and a museum.
Saint Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most distinctive landmarks. At the beginning of our adventure we had the opportunity to see the royal family outside of the venerable building and now it was time to explore the inside as well.
A wooden church stood on the site of the cathedral as early as 604 AD and was the seat of the Bishop of London. Throughout history, the church burned down completely and was rebuilt several times. The current building was completely redesigned by the architect Christopher Wren after the great fire in London in 1666 and built in a neoclassical baroque style. The interior is richly decorated with ornate objects and impressive mosaics on the walls and ceiling. It is only too easy for us to understand why major events such as royal weddings, celebrations and state funerals are celebrated here. The striking dome can be visited and so, despite our intention, we climbed up countless steps to the so-called lantern, the top small turret on the dome. However, the view made up for the effort.
The next item on the agenda was the British Museum. A visit there could fill days and still you would not have seen everything. However, our expectations on the visit there were not so high and ambitious that we wanted to spend a day there. The amount of information that was obtained there would have otherwise simply overwhelmed us. We only wanted to get to know the old walls and the exhibits briefly on this day. It’s really amazing what the British Empire has collected from their sphere of influence. However, we were most impressed by the age of the exhibits and their surprisingly good condition.
On the way back to the hotel we paid a short visit to Paddington Bear in Lecester Square before we went back to our hotel with Korean food in plastic cups. The odometer for today was once again just over 15. Considering that we actually wanted to walk less than the days before, we probably didn’t pay enough attention to the number of ways we walked.
Splendor and Glory
Wednesday, 8.June 2022
London has a lot to offer – both modern and venerable. It is difficult to decide whether to visit the dizzyingly tall modern glass skyscrapers or the many palaces and townhouses.
The decision was relatively easy for us today, as our trip to London clearly has a theme: The Royals. The choice of our first destination of the day was Kensington Palace. The way there would have been too far for our battered feet this time, especially in light of tomorrow’s trip. So we pulled out our Oyster card again and took the “Tube”, London’s subway, to Hyde Park to protect our soles a bit.
But how did we underestimate the size of this park… Hyde Park is about 2.5km long and about 1.5km wide. The park itself is truly an oasis in the concrete desert. Countless swans, ducks and geese swim in the lake there. Pigeons and other birds also use the large green area as a retreat. Many squirrels are waiting for visitors who „accidentally“ drop a few nuts despite the feeding ban. A welcome resort for people and animals in the otherwise rather noisy city. In general, we noticed that park benches and rubbish bins are rather scarce in the city. In many cases, people have no choice but to carry the rubbish with them for several kilometers or, as unfortunately most people do, simply drop it somewhere. Everywhere in the city you can see empty coffee mugs, burger wrappers and beverage bottles that have been carelessly deposited at some power box, traffic light switch box or on a house facade. With a few more trash cans, the city could look a lot nicer than it already looks. This is not the case in Hyde Park, where there are plenty of rubbish bins and many more park benches. People also make themselves comfortable on the lawns between the trees to have their breakfast here or to play with their dogs.
Arriving at Kensington Palace after far too many steps, we were able to enter the royal world. Queen Victoria was born here in 1819 and spent part of her childhood here. More recent royals have also lived or live here, such as Princess Diana and currently William and Kate with their three children in Apartment 1A in the palace. This area is of course not open to visitors in order to protect the privacy of the royals, but a large part of the eastern part has been open to the public since an extensive restoration. There are currently three exhibitions: Victoria’s childhood days, the history of the building and photographs of the royal family through history.
Victoria’s exhibition in particular was designed with great attention to detail and to Victoria as a person. Small figures were distributed everywhere in the room, which reenacted the story in small scenes. The photographs, which provided special insights into the life of the royal family, were also a special experience for those who were fascinated by the royal family (mainly the female Älg companion and the Älg himself). At the end of our visit we had a jubilee cake and a hot chocolate at Kensington Palace before we continued to the Natural History Museum.
The passage of time and the immense size of the museum made it impossible for us to read every sign and study every exhibit in minute detail. Still, we wanted to make the most of the limited time to get the most out of our visit. The building itself is impressive enough to fill several memory cards with digital images of a photographic apparatus. It was difficult to focus on the essentials.
We found the exhibition itself to be rather mixed. You could recognize a concept, but no real red thread that leads through the museum. Some connecting corridors between the parts of the exhibition even gave the impression that one had taken a wrong turn somewhere and was on the direct route to the loading ramp.
When we were once again asked politely to go outside because of the late time, we wanted to immerse ourselves in a world that was unfamiliar to us. The route led us past astonishingly expensive-looking residential buildings with cars that didn’t look any less expensive to the famous Harrods department store. With our backpacks and the Älg guide’s t-shirts, which had holes in them, we were dressed about as appropriately as Eskimos in the desert. Harrods houses outlets from well-known designers such as Yves Saint-Laurant, Prada and Balenciaga. All far beyond our ability to buy and, especially in the case of Balenciaga, far beyond our taste. Although we like to get a taste of a world that is foreign to us, we were not willing to spend too much time in it and decided to take public transport back to our hotel and eat noodles from plastic cups according to our status.
The Long Walk to the Queen’s Home
Thursday, 9.June 2022
A new day of our adventure has begun. This time it should go outside of London to explore the surrounding area. But something like that can hardly be done on foot, which is why we took the Northern Railway from south London to Windsor, west of the capital, today. The terminus of Waterloo is only a few minutes‘ walk from our hotel, so we decided to get closer to our destination with the English train service. Armed with the train ticket, we set off – from one end station to the next. Because Windsor is also a terminal station on this line and the train set can therefore not pass it at all. Of course, it made the journey all the more relaxing for us because we didn’t have to pay attention to which train stations we had already passed. The train stops at our destination anyway and doesn’t go any further.
The train is definitely the best way to travel to Windsor. It is only a few hundred meters from the train station to the entrance to Windsor Castle.
The facility looks back on a thousand-year history. The builder was William the Conqueror when he conquered the English crown with his Norman invasion. He was also responsible for the construction of the Tower of London. The reasons were the same for both buildings. The power should be expanded with the presence of an imposing structure and internal peace should be secured. Over this long period of time, the facility has varied in form, use and size. At first it was „only“ a garrison lodging, then a military fortress and was also used as a high-security prison at times. Eventually, Windsor Castle became the residence of the royal family and furnished with representative rooms.
As soon as we arrived, the changing of the guard started. We were able to get in just in time due to a special trick we learned on our travels (buying tickets online). In this particular case, we only bought the tickets in the ticket and security check queue, but that doesn’t really matter now… When the female Älg companion heard drums and flutes, her steps became noticeably quicker, despite her heavy and aching legs. Right next to Saint George’s Chapel we found a good spot to watch the spectacle. Anyone who has ever watched the changing of the guard, no matter where in the world, knows that such a spectacle of defined processes takes a certain amount of time. We were therefore more than surprised when the enormous crowd, which had literally run to this spectacle, had practically disappeared again after just a few minutes, just because the military musicians had briefly stopped their drumming and playing of the flute. We stayed until the end.
What you have to give the Brits credit for, however, is their disciplined calm when it comes to queuing somewhere. The queue to enter the Windsor Castle rooms to be visited was long – very long. But no one complained, despite the long waiting time, when everyone felt like absolutely nothing was moving. When we were finally allowed to enter, the first room greeted us with the famous doll’s house that was given to Queen Mary as a gift by the British people. This is a non-play recreation of a modern townhouse, or what was considered modern in the 1920’s. Many British manufacturers of goods could be persuaded to make 1:12 scale miniatures of their products either themselves or by professional model makers. The model house is so elaborately manufactured that it has working elevators and flushing toilets. Small vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers can be found as well as champagne bottles and automobiles. The other rooms seemed to want to increase in their splendor and artistic workmanship with every crossing of a threshold. The many gifts Queen Elizabeth has received over the course of her long 70 years as head of state must fill several warehouses, so only a limited selection can be displayed. But this selection is more than just impressive. Unfortunately, it is not allowed to take photographs of it and the impressive premises. So all interested parties have no choice but to see it with their own eyes. We recommend doing exactly that.
Our original plan was actually to walk the „Long Walk“ to the Savill Gardens. However, the premises of Windsor Castle were so breathtaking that we forgot the time a bit and would have arrived there just before closing time. Unfortunately, due to planning inadequacies, we only came to this conclusion halfway. The Long Walk is a long, almost dead straight path from Windsor Castle to Savill Gardens. The equivalent distance would be 4.5 miles or just over 7 kilometers. However, the realization mentioned earlier only came after about 3 kilometers and we started our way back without having achieved anything. Slightly devastated at not having reached our destination, we feasted our bodies on meat pies and refreshed our souls on cool brews before catching the train back to our hotel in London.
Friday, 10.June 2022
We have now spent a week in London. We have already been able to collect so many new impressions and are not tired of adding more. However, what is already very tired are our feet. Today was therefore planned in such a way that we only had to walk very little. Spoiler: it was still 13.5km. Today we took the subway back into town, which saved us a few meters of walking. The first stop was Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard there. However, due to the work involved in dismantling the main stage for the anniversary celebration, no one could even get near the palace. We therefore (by sheer coincidence) placed ourselves tactically cleverly at the entrance gate of the barracks of the guards. Once again we waited longer than the actual spectacle lasted. After just a few minutes it was all over. The fixed point of the day was to come much later.
So we decided first to visit the Royal Mews, the royal stables, located near Buckingham Palace and to see the horses, carriages and motor vehicles that are stored or housed there. A really exciting topic.
The carriages are on average almost 150-200 years old and are pulled by horses that are specially bred or bought for this purpose. Each of these horses has its own tack and harness that must be specially tailored for each of the noble animals and require several days of preparation to be used in parades.
After so much exciting new information, we wanted to relax a bit. The day should be slowed down even further and so we decided to relax with an ice cream in Green Park next to Buckingham Palace before things got really exciting. This was something we haven’t done in far too long – just lying in the grass with a honeycomb ice cream cone and watching the clouds go by. Even though we were lying on the grass in the middle of the big city and looking up at the sky, we could almost feel a connection to nature and a calming inner stillness. After too few minutes we still had to set off so as not to miss our important and exciting appointment.
The journey went to the well-known gin manufacturer Beefeater in Vauxhall London. There we wanted to immerse ourselves in the world of alcohol production, just like in Scotland with the whiskey producers.
The presentation at the entrance makes a very professional impression. The small shop is well structured and the group that was ahead of us with the factory tour seemed overjoyed to have been there. We were hoping to experience exactly the same feeling after the tour.
The first part of the factory tour consisted of a kind of self-study of the history of gin in general and the history of Beefeater gin in particular. Although we are known for taking a little longer at informative signs to really absorb all the information, the other participants in the tour showed us that we seemed to be particularly slow. Either that, or they just came to drink as much gin as possible and less for the information. As a result, we were not able to fully enjoy the entire self-study exhibition as we were already asked by the staff to show up for the tasting. There we were shown which spices and aromas make up the taste of Beefeater Gin. However, the focus here was less on enjoyment and more on the time, so that we were forced to consume the strong alcohol in a very short time. The previously conducted factory tour included a short tour of the distilleries and a few open questions from the tour participants were answered.
It’s hard to imagine that every single drop of Beefeater is produced in this small distillery in London. This is then transported to Scotland to be bottled there and finally sold all over the world.
The factory tour was by no means a disappointment, but we were expecting something similar to the whiskey distilleries in Scotland. The whole process seemed a bit hasty. Little consideration was given to the time to be able to enjoy the product in a dignified manner. Nevertheless, we were able to find a nice bottle that we would like to import home so that we can taste it in a worthy way in our living room.
After that we continued with a short stop at a supermarket to get something nutritious into our bodies. Normally when building a house you start with a good foundation, but today we quickly installed several roof tiles at the beginning and the project began to falter very quickly. However, anyone who has already started with it cannot simply stop doing it, so after catching up on the foundation we continued to build on the roof. Beer and cocktails were our choice of building materials. We can report that the project was successfully completed. Time for bed.
Saturday, 11.June 2022
Our stay is almost over. Many new impressions have been collected so far and yet we were not tired of adding more to our memories. Well, we were tired, at least our feet, but we didn’t want to waste valuable adventure time. After the necessary consultations, we set off for our first destination for the day: the HMS Belfast.
HMS Belfast was completed in Belfast in 1938 as a Town-class light cruiser and entered service with the Royal Navy in August 1939. Thus, at the beginning of the Second World War, she was one of the most modern ships in the British Navy. For most of its service life, HMS Belfast was the flagship of the fleet to which it was attached. This means that the ship was not only assigned a captain who steered the ship, but also housed the admiral who was in command of the entire fleet. Over the course of her service, the ship was repeatedly modernized and was able to take part in missions in the Arctic, in Asian waters and finally in the Korean War. After the decommissioning in 1965 it was not clear for a long time what should happen to the ship. Scrapping seemed the best option, but further use as a spare parts store or a house ship was also discussed until 1973, when it was finally decided to anchor her in London as a museum ship as the last survivor of the cruisers of the Second World War that had served for Great Britain.
Since then, the ship has welcomed around 300,000 visitors a year, who can get to know the everyday life of seafarers on the many decks. Life on the ship can be experienced with the help of audio guides, many informative signs and interactive stations.
The male Älg companion was most enthusiastic about the technical properties, especially the engine room. The female companion not so much… The many steps and ladders that we climbed up and down again and again to get to the various decks demanded the last remnants of our remaining stamina after this week.
After visiting the ship we had to get motivated again and so we decided to enjoy a refreshment in the form of a Pimm’s cocktail. This is a relatively simple cocktail made primarily from Pimm’s, a gin-based slightly alcoholic liqueur made with lemonade, usually a mixture of tea and lemon or peach juice and some mint, along with sliced strawberries, oranges and cucumber is refined. With motivation and drive restored, we could continue to Regents Park.
The park is a bit further out of the center and so the subway was our best friend again. It gets you pretty much anywhere in London effortlessly and fairly quickly at very reasonable prices. We definitely recommend getting an Oyster card here. You can either order these online or, like us, simply pick them up at one of the many counters or ticket machines.
Only the heat, the smell and the somewhat high volume in the wagons takes a little getting used to.
Arriving at Regent’s Park, our main concern was to lay our heads down in the soft grass and maybe see a squirrel. Because in other parks we could observe how visitors lured them with nuts, which the squirrels gratefully accepted and ate with joy not far away. Our Älg really wanted to capture a similar experience photographically, but unfortunately Fortuna was not kind to us that day. Although we found several squirrels who gratefully accepted nuts, they were probably not as used to people as their squirrel colleagues in the other parks. After receiving the nut, they immediately disappeared again and it was therefore impossible to take a photograph with Älgbert. With our Älg slightly bruised and our female Älg companion disappointed, we returned to our hotel, but not without buying a few souvenirs first. Tomorrow we still have a little time before we have to board our plane. Let’s see what else comes up.
Sunday, 12.June 2022
The day has come when we must say goodbye. Every adventure begins and ends once. However, our flight didn’t start until late in the afternoon, so we still had plenty of time for one last exploration. In the immediate vicinity of the hotel was the Imperial War Museum, which at least one member of the Älg travel community was happy to visit. The female companion and also Älgbert to some degree cannot do much with it, but the male companion is fascinated by the technology and the progress made possible by the greatest evil of mankind. Unfortunately, in no other event is mankind investing nearly as much time, money and manpower in research as when it comes to eradicating it.
The museum is free and spread over several floors. The lowest floor is dedicated to the First World War and all its horrors. The floor above continues with the Second World War. Each further floor follows the chronology of the story and each part is based on the fact that the story is not brought closer to the visitor in a dry overall context, but tries to put the visitor in the position of the people with individual fates and personal stories.
After about three hours, or as the female companion would say after three eternities, we had to make our way to the airport. We picked up our suitcases from the hotel, which we were kindly allowed to store temporarily there, and took the “Tube” for the last time on this adventure to get to Paddington station. There we missed Paddington the bear again, but we caught our Elizabeth Line train. The journey to London Heathrow already began as soon as we boarded. Who would have thought that Älgs would love to travel by train. He was glued to the window for the entire journey and admired the passing industrial landscape.
At the airport we went through the entire security process again – emptying our trouser pockets, taking off our watches and belts, almost losing our trousers due to the lack of a belt, sending the gray plastic box together with Älgbert onboard through the X-ray machine and then collecting everything again and taking with us.
After properly tying up our trousers and tucking away our Älg, we trawled through the offers of the duty-free shops in Terminal 2 at London Heathrow Airport and were a bit disappointed. The range of offers is rather poor for such a large airport. While there are plenty of perfumes and textiles beyond our price limit, chocolate and drinks with a certain spirit are few to be found. At least we didn’t find a Pimm’s that we would have loved to bring home with us. Unfortunately, the flight of the largest German airline was delayed again, but we had enough leeway to catch the Italian flight from Frankfurt to back home. At the time we didn’t know how much time that should be. Because this time the Italian airline was a little late as at the time when we should actually have landed in Linz, we were not even on the runway and lifted off. But no problem, we didn’t have anything else planned that day, apart from maybe getting some sleep, because we had to go back to work the next day.
During this adventure we got many new impressions and were able to get to know beautiful and culturally rich places. For us there were sometimes a lot of people at once, because we are just not used to these crowds, but we don’t want to miss this adventure either. After all, we’ve gotten closer to the Queen than we’ve ever had before.
During our stay we only used public transport and have to say that it is very easy to do so in London. Owning or borrowing a car would be more of a hindrance than a means of getting around. We walked the rest of the stretches that we couldn’t take by train or subway. After all, that was about 157.5 kilometers spread over the entire week. We certainly enjoyed our time and will definitely be visiting the English Isle again.