To the Tower! (And St. Paul’s, Westminster Abbey and a London Musical…)i


Group photo (with Chapman University pennants) on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral.


The iconic dome of St. Paul’s, architect Christopher Wren’s masterpiece (constructed from 1675-1708) and a symbol of London.


A pose and smiles before entering the Tower of London.


Maestro Wachs and another London symbol: Tower Bridge (completed in 1894).


The White Tower, in the Tower of London complex, dates back to 1097. when it was the tallest building in all of London (90 ft.).


Renzo Piano’s futuristic skyscraper “The Shard” offers a striking contrast to medieval buildings within the Tower of London fortress.


Lining up to see the Crown Jewels.


Show us your fish and chips!


Detail of angel carving outside Westminster Abbey (no photos allowed inside the Abbey….)



That fish and chips lunch was yummy!



The Cloisters of Westminster Abbey.  The tower in the background, from which the Union Jack flies, is the Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament.

Wednesday was an extremely active and busy day for OCYSO, and it’s just about midnight and we all need to be up at 5:30 a.m. to get on the road to Bristol (where the orchestra’s first concert takes place tomorrow), So I will just do a brief recap and hopefully get a few photos up. Today was a sightseeing day — following our first breakfast at the hotel (big breakfast buffet with everything from buns and cereal to hot eggs and that good British bacon) we boarded our buses for a drive to iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral. Well, following one quick detour by the Bernstein bus back to the hotel when it was discovered that one student (who shall remain nameless here) had overslept and missed the bus. (A roll call system is now in place…)

We paid a quick visit to St. Paul’s, Christopher Wren’s famed masterwork whose dome stood so inspiringly throughout the worst of the German bombings during WWII. Then it was on to the Tower of London, where we had a fine tour by our guides and then free time to explore — most of us got into the line to see the Crown Jewels, which were, of course, an extraordinary sight (no photos allowed, of course, but who can ever forget seeing the Cuillenen II diamond, as big as a lemon, set into the Queen Mother’s crown, or the astonishing array of rubies, emeralds, sapphires and pearls set into the Imperial Crown of State?

Down on the Thames riverbank outside the Tower is one of the engineering “jewels” of the late Victorian era, Tower Bridge, which has become of the best-known symbols of London.  Also very visible on the skyline across the river: architect Renzo Piano’s very futuristic-looking skyscraper, “The Shard,”now the tallest building in London,  and London’s quirky City Hall, rounded and slightly off-center.  It all makes for a very interesting skyline indeed, with these modern buildings soaring into the same photos as the medieval portions of The City and the Tower of London.

We gathered everyone onto the buses again for the drive to Westminster for a guided tour of another London icon, Westminster Abbey, which took everyone’s breath away with its lofty nave and amazing range of architectural styles.  Many of the students remembered it as the wedding cathedral of William and Kate, but were very impressed to see the who’s who of people in British history either interred or memorialized there, from Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots to Dickens, Darwin, Kipling, Austen, Handel, Shakespeare (memorial only) and so many more.  Of course the Abbey was extremely crowded with sightseers — it’s August and high tourist season, so we really don’t have any sights to ourselves.  Well, except for those of us who dashed across the street from the Abbey to the huge early-1900s Methodist Central Hall, where, in the basement, there’s a lovely, light and airy cafe, with great coffee — the perfect place to rest our feet for a few minutes.  One of the best-kept secrets in London!

Our buses then took us to our evening restaurant, Belgo Centraal, a Belgian eatery where we had a filling meal of bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes; with a pasta option for the vegetarians).   Then it was on to our London theater experience — a rousing and very fun performance of the musical “Matilda,” based on Roald Dahl’s beloved and sassy book, which has to be a shoo-in for the Best Musical Tony Award coming up.  From the theater, it was but a short walk back to our hotel, where I’m now blogging and downloading today’s photos while everyone else is in bed.  Which I must do, too!  See you tomorrow with a report on our Bristol Cathedral concert (about a 2-hour drive west of London –our longest road trip) and our visit to Stonehenge…!

6 thoughts on “To the Tower! (And St. Paul’s, Westminster Abbey and a London Musical…)i

  1. Anne Hendrickson

    Thank you very much for your updates! They are much appreciated. I hope the tour continues to be fun for everyone.

  2. Gladys Zarabozo

    So, you have a “Home Alone” experience.

    Thank you for keeping us informed, I am sure you are exhausted. The pictures are beautiful.

    Best wishes in the concerts and enjoy every second.

    Gladys and Erkis Zarabozo

  3. Bless Martinez

    Lovin’ all these terrific photos! We do appreciate it a lot to see all our young musicians gathered together for some awesome group pictures, at least once each day, just like what you did the previous days! Because it’s the only way that we’re able to check and connect with our young musicians on a daily basis that’s why we’re so grateful for these group photo op! Thank you also for your complete and descriptive blogs! Looking forward for more blogs and pictures on the days ahead…Stay safe and ENJOY!!! 🙂

  4. michelle ye

    What a great writer, whoever you’re! Important highlight and plenty of details that we parents are hungry for. More pictures please…..if you can, of course.


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