Saturday, January 19, 2008

Best abbey I've seen...

After our trouble posting last night, I'm hoping we have more luck. Today started out at Westminster Abbey, which was unfortunately closed because of the annual day of prayer. We still got to go in the cloister though and it was pretty amazing just in itself. We spent a couple of hours there looking at all of the 1000 year old graves and marveling at the building. We also got to observe part of a service that included chanting and singing. The acoustics in that place were amazing!

After that we went and ate at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Tavern. It's been a tavern since 1538, recently remodeled though... in 1667! We sat in Charles Dickens favorite seat near the fireplace in the Chop Room and had traditional roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (surprisingly yummy). Other people that frequented it were Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain. We sampled a stout and a bitter, made by Samuel Smith (the house beer of the current owners). These are the traditional rich flavored, real ales that are "pulled" up from the cellar. They're served at cellar temperature and not carbonated. We found them full of flavor and really creamy.

We spent the remainder of the day at St. Paul's Cathedral burning off our roast beef walking up to the top of the dome. 452 stairs, a few tight hallways, and hair-raising, rickety steps later, it's a fabulous view. We also pondered the fact this 300 year old building was designer Christopher Wren's first foray into architecture. Eeek. Down on the ground, we were especially surprised by the American Chapel dedicated to American servicemen who lost their lives fighting in WWII and the monument to George Washington.

We're more and more impressed by the city (we're in love with the tube!), and can't wait for tomorrow!!

P.S. So far coming to Europe in winter was a brilliant stroke. It's actually been quite warm with temperatures in the low to middle 60s. John hasn't worn a coat since the first day. We also haven't waited in ANY lines. We walked right into the crown jewels and crowds are nonexistent.

For more pics, click here.

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