When the guard asked, the person in front of us said he was camping. Vivian followed close behind, and I kept just as close in her footsteps. I’m sure we looked like a group, so the guards scarcely looked up when they let us into the area lining The Mall, where mourners were spending the night for the Queen’s funeral tomorrow.
Mostly this was Vivian’s doing. For my part, I just followed along behind. I don’t know who we trailed into the area, but the best approach in these situations seems to be to just act like you belong and on’t say more then you need to. Just keep moving and act like you belong.
We hadn’t intended to join the spectacle of mourners for Queen Elizabeth, but after a dinner of delicious Indian food, Vivian wanted to go see central London.
For my part, I was game. Of course, not being a huge fan of London, I didn’t really have much of a destination in mind, but since rivers are good fodder for photos, I chose an underground station near the Thames, and we were off.
We stepped off of train at the Westminster station where I led the way and brought us up bankside. We were immediately greeted by the London Eye ahead.
And just behind us stood Big Ben and the houses of Parliament (more precisely the Palace of Westminster).
We crossed the river and walked east along the bank of the Thames, strolling past the giant ferris wheel. All around us the evening revelry continued, as children and adults rode the
merry go round calliope and partook of ice cream.
We reached the next bridge and returned to the north side and the Embankment. Here, we found Gordon’s Wine Bar, the oldest wine bar in London. I have memories in this place and today was another chance to make more. We stopped to rest our feet and have a glass in her ancient caverns, talking over memories and plans until they closed, which sounds impressive, but was only about 20 minutes.
Returning to the road I nudged us in the direction of Trafalgar Square and the British Museum of Plunder. We snapped a few photos but there wasn’t really much to see or do here. For me, however, the energy I get from traveling and exploring was manifest.
Forging ahead, we finally decided the night was growing long, so turned down a side street toward the Embankment. I wasn’t certain where the nearest underground station was, but that seemed as good a shot as any.
That’s how we ended up at the east end of The Mall, where British flags bedecked the road and the way was closed to traffic. We didn’t technically know where we were. But we absolutely knew where we were. This couldn’t be anything else.
We had found ourselves somewhere along the funeral route. This was something we couldn’t miss, so we followed The Mall westward, and began to encounter crowds of mourners camping out.
At about the halfway point, the path forward was barred. This part of The Mall was open only to campers. That’s where we passed the guard, continuing our westward journey until we couldn’t go any further, near the gates of Buckingham Palace. We took in the moment, breathed the air, and watched for a bit as some men argued as to whether rap was respectful at this particular time.
Finally, we turned back to the East and the exit. Leaving the area, the guard’s eyes went wide as he realized we weren’t campers. In truth, nobody had ever asked, but a lot of assumptions had been made.
We wound our way through St. James’s Park, along at least part of the Princess Diana of Wales Memorial Walk.
Finally, our path passed by Westminster Abbey, and, in the end we found ourselves where we had begun: at the Westminster Station.