If only. Though I'm sure every day isn't full of tea and crumpets. Our London visit fell during the two months late in the summer when the Queen & her entourage are off retreating at Balmoral in Scotland. Which works out great for me because that's when you can tour Buckingham Palace. Not so great for you, because taking pictures in the palace was forbidden. And I didn't want to test British security. I love following rules.
We headed there first thing in the morning and were able to tour with the first group at 9am. It took us about 1.5 hours to leisurely tour, though we didn't read every single sign along the way. I will warn you - we had planned to finish in time to be able to swing back to the front of the palace to catch the changing of the guard on the same day. Except there lies the problem. August through April, the ceremony only happens every other day. And of course we were off by a day & had to come back the next morning. Because how could we cross the ocean & not see it?
In the palace, you get to walk through the back entrance where all the cars/carriages enter & exit. And see the State Rooms. And find a secret door from the Queen's rooms to the largest state room hidden behind a framed mirror. Except I guess it's not a secret if they show it to you. And a thousand other people. Hmm....
When you exit, there is a winding path through the lawn and around a pond in the back of the palace. It was so peaceful that morning we couldn't help but spend a few minutes resting on a park bench just watching the ducks.
As relaxing as those moments were after touring, the opposite was true of watching the changing of the guard. I can handle crowds, but throw in people from all over the world with different thoughts on personal space? I give in. The picture above doesn't do the size of the crowd justice. Trust me. Every tourist in London was there. With us. I'm feeling claustrophobic just thinking about it. We made it through half the ceremony by the gates, being squished and jostled, before we backed away and headed to wait on Spur Road where part of the guard would shortly walk back to the Barracks. That my friends, was a good idea. We got a great show after all the crowds died out.
And now for the biggest surprise in the ceremony. In every guidebook and brochure I read preparing for the trip, all I knew was that the band would play for about 15 minutes during the guard change. I expected 'God Save the Queen'. Or 'Rule Brittannia'. But ladies & gents.....this I was not prepared for. (Hang with the shaky video....no seriously you have to watch it...I'm just hoping I embedded the video right!)
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Oh yes. Ricky Martin. Because nothing says formal British ceremony like some Americanized Spanish music. In England. But add that to the list of experiences & memories you can't even plan to make, not matter how hard you try. Surprises like this one just show up and slap you in the face.
I'm so thankful for even the random & crowded memories we made. But I'm more thankful I don't have to wait for vacation to make them. Amen?