On The Road and Up The Shard!

Our morning started with a quick trip on the Tube to London's newest landmark, The Shard (think Willis Tower).  This modern marvel opened in February of 2013 and is Europe's tallest building!

72 stories high, it houses the Shangri-La Hotel, exclusive residences,  restaurants,  businesses  - and viewing galleries on the 68, 69 and 72 floors that give a spectacular 360-degree view for up to 40 miles!   To the south you can see the London Eye (ferris wheel),  Buckingham Palace, Parliament and Big Ben.

To the west, there's an amazing view of the River Thames and several bridges that cross it, including the Waterloo, Blackfriars and Millennium Bridge.

The north view features London Bridge,Tower 42, Broadgate Tower, Lloyds of London and Gherkin.

The east view - my favorite - highlights the magnificent Tower Bridge,  The Tower of London, City Hall, and off in the distance, the Olympic Stadium!

The Shard is 1.016 feet high, has 44 lifts (elevators) in the building that travel up to 6 meters per second, and its construction consists of 11,000 glass panels!

After admiring the view for a couple hours, we decided to go back and walk around Piccadilly Circus and Trafalger Square sans the rain! The sun was shining at Piccadilly Circus.  As we walked among the historic buildings, Sara wanted to know why this area was called "Piccadilly Circus" when it clearly was NOT a circus!  Piccadilly Circus was built in 1819 in order to connect Regent Street and Piccadilly Street.  The word 'Circus' for 'circle' refers to the roundabout around which the traffic circulated. Very "Readers Digest" explaination!

We stopped for a quick bite to eat, and began making our way to Trafalger Square - as soon as we arrived, so did the rain! Good thing the National Gallery was right there - made for a very interesting and culturally educational shelter!

Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers
Claude Monet The Water-Lily Pond
Georges Seurat Bathers at Asnieres

So much art, so little time! We made our way back to the tube, heading to our hotel to get ready for dinner and theatre in London's famous West End! Don't forget - MIND THE GAP!

We had dinner at The Globe, a local pub perfect for fish n' chips and a lager!  Then on to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to see "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!"

This mouth-watering musical was so good - it had us craving chocolate by intermission! After the show, Sara was lucky enough to get a couple of autographs  from the child stars who played Charlie and Augustus!

"...There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination, living there you'll be free, if you truly wish to be..."