Day 1 - London

We got into Heathrow Airport at about 6 in the morning and arrived at our hotel a couple of hours later, so still pretty early in the day. After a meeting with our London guide, who armed us with maps and transit passes, we headed out to explore.
Our hotel was between St. Catherine's docks, shown here, and the River Thames. This is the Royal Barge Gloriana launched in 2012 for the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.  Not sure why it was docked here. These early 20th century cargo barges are docked right behind our hotel. A shot through the rigging.
20130821-111520 dsc 4842 The Tower Bridge, right next to our hotel. Iconic modern London buildings right across the bridge. 20130821-112337 dsc 4848
We took a short river cruise from the dock near the Tower of London.  The crew member shown gave use a nice commentary. There are a lot of these small boats on the Thames. "The Shard" is currently the tallest building in the EU, with 72 stories.  The ship in the foreground is the HMS Belfast, currently a floating museum. The Tower of London from the river.
The Swiss Re building, commonly known as "The Gherkin." The Tower of London One of many pictures of the tower bridge. It is a lift bridge built 1886-1894 The tower bridge again.
The Monument to the Great Fire of London, designed by Christopher Wren, and built 1671-1677.  It is 202 feet high. The Golden Hinde II, a full sized reconstruction of Sir Francis Drake's galleon use to circumnavigate the globe from 1577 - 1580 The Anchor Bankside, where Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London in 1666.  The pub was frequented by many actors in Shakespeare's time, which is was part of the theater district, along with the Globe Theater. The Globe Theater complex.
Interesting building on the river bank. 20130821-122121 dsc 4879 20130821-122124 dsc 4880 Old Thames expression: "When the lions are drinking, central London is in danger of flooding."
Whitehall Court is visible behind the Hungerford rail bridge. The London needle, presented to the UK in 1819 by Muhammad Ali, the ruler of Egypt and Sudan in appreciation for the victories of Lord Nelson at the Bottle of the Nile.  It was not moved from Alexandria to London until 1877. 20130821-122537 dsc 4890 The London Eye.  We rode it a couple of days later
The west bank of the Thames, with the Houses of Parliament in the distance. You can also see the golden eagle that is the Royal Air Force monument, built in 1923. Elizabeth Tower.  Big Ben is the bell inside. Andrea thinking about taking a ride on the London Eye. One of the London Eye pods.
The dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.  We visited it a couple of days later. Our hotel taken from the river bank near the Tower of London. Fountain in front of our hotel, Girl with Dolphin, created in 1973 by David Wynne. 20130821-134507 dsc 4905-crop1
The view from our hotel window The tower bridge from in front of our hotel. First of several shots around the St. Katharine docks behind our hotel.  Lots of good restaurants and interesting boats here. Starbuck's!
20130821-190535 dsc 4915 20130821-191452 dsc 4924 Another shot of the royal barge Gloriana.  It is powered by 18 oarsmen. 20130821-192045 dsc 4926
The spritsail barge Ardwina, built in 1907 for carrying cargo on the Thames. A little early evening walk on the Tower Bridge 20130821-193323 dsc 4941 20130821-193526 dsc 4942
Our hotel from the bridge. London City Hall from the Tower Bridge.  Opened in 2002. 20130821-193924 dsc 4948 Catwalks over Shad Thames behind Butler's Wharf, which was originally built in 1871 as part of a warehouse complex. Now it is home to luxury apartments
London financial district, including the "Walkie-Talkie", the "Cheesegrater" and the "Gherkin" Another shot of the financial district behind the Tower of London City Hall and the Shard at sunset.