After the tour we walked along the South Bank and then crossed back over the river. Got a great picture of St. Paul's Cathedral while we were walking. We headed to Fortnum and Mason, one of the posh department stores for high tea in the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. It was a very lovely affair with silver service. I had the Bannockburn Darjeeling tea with fruit and honey notes. Tom had the Keenan which was recommended to serve with milk. He started with eggs Benedict and I had tea sandwiches. They then brought out the three tier tray of scones with jam and clotted cream, cookies and cakes, and then we got to choose a large slice from one of several cakes on the tea cake trolley. It was decadent and delicious and we loved all of it!
After tea, we walked through Green Park to Buckingham Palace for our tour of the State Rooms. They are only open for viewing during Aug and Sept when the Queen is on vacation at Balmoral Castle, therefore it was very crowded, even with pre-booking tickets. You are given an audio guide that walks you through the rooms to provide context and descriptions. The state rooms are the public rooms of the palace used for entertaining. Each year there is a theme to the exhibit - this year focused on children and growing up in the royal family so there were lots of displays of toys, games, photos, and family history throughout the palace. The tour takes about an hour, then you exit in the gardens and are free to walk the estate.
My feet were finally giving up after 3 long days of walking and standing, so we headed back to our rooms at The Byron Hotel in Kensington. Tom went out a bit later for take-away fish and chips from the store around the corner. We got haddock and chips (fries) with lots of vinegar and some mushy garden peas. Our hotel had put us in the penthouse suite which meant that we were on the top (5th) floor and in addition to our bedroom and bathroom, we had a sitting room with table and chairs, sofa, and tele. It was perfect for eating in on a couple of nights, and just having more space to set out luggage and bags so that we didn't have to open and close them on our bed all the time. Overall we really liked the hotel but will leave a comment warning people about the towel warmer and bathroom pump switches since those were the only hangups we had.
Christina and Tom