Our last full day in London was beautiful with sunshine and blue skies! Darlene booked a tour of St. Paul's Cathedral that also included a Thames River Cruise, and we had tickets to tour the Houses of Parliament later on, so we had another full day of sight-seeing to look forward to. Since we'd already enjoyed a river cruise with our London in a Day Tour, we skipped that activity, and headed straight to St. Paul's Cathedral. Photography was not allowed inside the cathedral which was a pity because it's absolutely stunning! However, it is a house of worship, so it's understandable. We were present for a morning prayer which was lovely and really enhanced the experience. We had the option to have the multi-media guide - an small cell phone-like device that had audio information as well as a visual tour. I started with that but elected to eventually stop using it and just look around the magnificent building. After our tour, we enjoyed some tea and cakes in the cafeteria before exploring the beautiful grounds.
We caught the Tube back to Westminster Palace for our tour of Parliament. The tour was interesting and it was really fun to go through the House of Commons and the House of Lords where the lawmakers work. I've seen it on TV, but to see it in real life was impressive. It was especially fascinating to learn that when it appears a lawmaker is hunched down sleeping on the job, they are actually listening to small speakers that are imbedded on the backs of the benches! We also saw the Central Lobby containing statues of the Kings and Queens of England, the Robing Room where the Queen puts on her Imperial Crown and ceremonial robes before going to the House of Lords, St. Stephen's Hall, and throughout were treated to lots of beautiful paintings, statues, frescoes, stained glass windows, and murals.
After the main tour, we went through the Voice and Vote exhibit about Women's Suffrage and Women in Parliament. It was a fascinating display that contained photos and papers from the women's struggle to get the vote and fight to participate in Parliament. The exhibit concluded with photos and video displays showing how women's participation in Parliament has grown over the years.
After these two amazing tours, we wandered down Whitehall to find a pub to sit and relax with a beverage and maybe something to eat. We settled on The Lord Moon of the Mall, and had a nice table by the window so we could do some people watching. After a while, we made our way back to the hotel past the heavily guarded 10 Downing Street, and arrived in time to enjoy one last evening reception before returning to the room to pack and try to sleep before rising early to head to Heathrow the next day.