Day 3, Thursday, 2 July 2009

We had breakfast at the hotel at 7:00 am.  Then it was off to Wesley Chapel for the choir concert.  Since Mrs. Clark’s husband was so ill, it was conducted by one of the other staff members.  The audience was mostly the band members and Ambassador parents, so it was really more like a dress rehearsal.  Given the last minute change in conductor, that was probably a good thing.

After the concert, we visited the grave yard behind the chapel where John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, was buried.  After a short visit, we proceeded to the Embankment area where the band concert was scheduled.

Then we took the coaches to Victoria Embankment Park for box lunches. After arriving, we ate a provided box lunch, then got set up for the band.  The concert began at 12:30 in a nice outdoor band area.  The park was pack with Londoners eating their lunch and soaking up the sunshine.

There were several elderly regulars in the audience near the front. Some of them interacted with the band directors, apparently recalling them from previous years.  A few of them danced during Maleguena and also during the Tennessee Waltz.  And there was rhythmic clapping during Rocky Top, although I doubt they actually recognized the piece. The concert was very well-received by the Londoners.

After the concert was over, we went on a walking tour with our group.  We walked past the side of the Parliament Building where Big Ben is located.  Then we proceeded to Westminster Abbey..  By the time we got there, there were about 60 Ambassadors in all.  We purchased a set of group tickets and cued up in three groups.

Once we finally got in, we were treated to a spectacular interior.  We had time to visit all the parts of the chapel, although we couldn’t dwell.  We saw the graves of Winston Churchill, Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, G.F. Handel, and many more.

All three groups met outside the abbey to head for supper.  We walked past 10 Downing Street and on to Trafalgar Square and Nelson’s Column.  Then on to a street with several restaurants, including a Macdonald’s.

By the time we got to the supper area, a little after 4:30, there wasn’t much time to eat anywhere except at the Macdonald’s there.  Teagan and I tried to eat at Borgia’s, an Italian restaurant, but they couldn’t get our food out in time, so we had to leave.  We joined our group and headed back toward the Embankment where we were to meet the entire group.  We hit a Quizno’s along the way for a sandwich.

We met with the entire group around 5:30.  At about 6:00, we split into groups according to evening activity:  Thames cruise and London Eye in our case.  The cruise provided an informative trip downstream as far as Parliament and upstream as far as London Tower.  Afterward, the London Eye gave us a good view of London from high above the Thames.  It was about an hour before sunset and sky was pretty clear, so we got decent views in all directions.

Once we finished there, we walked around the park to look at the entertainers, the upside-down purple cow, and to hit an ATM machine.  We also got a soft ice cream.  They are very creamy tasting.

After a visit to an ATM, we got an ice cream and walked around the grassy area on South Band by the eye.  We took a Taxi back to the hotel around 9:30.

Around 9:15, we met with our group and split up in to cab-sized subgroups to return to the hotel.  The ride back was 10.80 pounds we we split three ways.

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