This morning after breakfast I returned my rental car and bought a ticket for the Eurostar to London. My two hour trip to London from Lille was rather uneventful. I originally thought it was going to be a short one hour trip, but I forgot to factor in the one hour time difference.
The only excitement, if you want to call it that, was went I cleared UK immigration in Lille. Chatting with the guy there I learnt that our Canadian Prime Minister, Mr Harper, was in Lille today. Apparently he was stopping through on his way home from the G8 Submit and was heading to Normandy to visit some of the Canadian WWII sites like I did a few days ago.
Once I arrived in London it was the usual routine of finding a hotel for the night. I had a short list of hotels from some searching I did on the internet, so it didn't take long to find a decent place. I'm staying in the same neighbourhood as last time, which is near the Victoria Station. I tried to stay in the same hotel that I was in back in May but they were booked up. They are also booked up at the end of the month when I will be stopping in London one last time for a couple days before flying home, so I was also searching for a hotel that will be available then.
Once I got settled into my hotel I went and confirmed my car rental is a go for tomorrow. The rental place is only a few blocks away. Then after that I went out and played tourist for the rest of the day.
The main tourist attraction I visited was the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. It was quite an impressive place and I spent nearly 3 hours there. The Cabinet War Rooms is a tour of the actual underground headquarters used by the British government during their fight against the Nazis. Many of the rooms are just like they where in 1945. Some had been sealed up after the war and stayed that way until they were opened to the public, others had been cleaned out after the war but have since been recreated based on first hand information from the folks who lived and worked down there. The Churchill Museum is a thorough account of the life of Winston Churchill and the impact he had on the world. The museum uses a whole range multi-media presentations and many artifacts to communicate the story of this great man.
The simple entrance to the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms in no way reflects the high quality and huge facility that lies ahead. Note that the Churchill Museum was off limits to cameras and most of the stuff in the Cabinet War Rooms was behind glass and hard to photograph, so I don't have too many photos.
This is the first time I've ever saw a place that gives discounts for the unemployed. I tried to get in on that since I haven't worked in nearly 14 months, but it's only open to folks in England who have a card proving they are unemployed. Oh well, the place was definitely worth the price of admission so I won't complain.
Mr Churchill in his secret room that was disguised as a bathroom talking on the phone to US President, Mr Roosevelt.
The Chiefs of Staff Conference Room.
I don't remember what these guys were responsible for, but I do remember the story of the large wooden beams in this and other rooms. They were used to reinforce the ceiling to provide an extra layer of strength during the bombing of London.
This hallway was originally a room, but it was a weak point in the structure that could be easily damaged by a nearby bomb, so it was filled with concrete and turned into a tunnel.
This is where they kept tabs on the progress of the Battle of Britain.
Nearby they had charts showing things like number of V1 and V2 bombs and the number of bomber airplanes send to England and their success rates. This blackboard shows the summary of the progress against the Nazis in the air battle over Britain and the numbers on the board are the last ones from the day Hitler ended the London campaign to shift his forces to the east against Russia.
On the way to the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms and afterwards I did pass by a few popular London sites, but I showed you photos of most of them back in May and won't repeat them here.
One worth showing is the Westminster bridge. It's currently undergoing some work so it has these ugly barricades on both sides. Glad they didn't have this back in May during my first visit.
After being to Berlin I now wander if the multi-coloured stones on Westminster Abbey is also a sign of repairs for WWII damage down during the bombing of London.
If so, the building needed a lot work after the war.
Before calling it a night I found time for some food and few beers down at a pub near the Trafalgar square.
That's it for today. Tomorrow is going to be an interesting experience as I learn to drive a right hand drive vehicle on the opposite side of the road than I'm used to. I'm sure it won't be a problem given the range of vehicles and heavy equipment I've driven in the past, including my nephews right hand drive 4 Runner, but time will tell.