A Very "Kew"l Place
Alas, when my parents and brother were here, one of the exceptional trips I took that must be recounted is to the Kew Gardens. The Kew Gardens are a set of botanical gardens southwest of London, pretty far down off the Tube. Included in these botanical gardens is the former leisure center and home for George III, one of the biggest collections of tree and other fauna varieties in the world, and a walk through treetops (a raised platform among the branches of taller trees). It actually is known to have a collection of over 30,000 different types of plants, which makes it the world's largest collection of plants (thanks Wikipedia).
As we got off the Tube, the first thing that we noticed was that it was exceptionally hot. London's weather is always changing, from rain to heat to freezing to overcast. This particular day, we noted the extreme sunlight and temperature, and grabbed inordinate amounts of water to get us through the day.
The gardens are placed in the not-so-ironically titled small town of Kew. The way to the gardens is through the small town, which has its own sense of charm and quaintness. At the end of the road, we walked up to the Kew Gardens. Now, the place itself is absolutely huge: 300 acres of innumerable plants across an equally innumerable set of horticultural buildings and exhibits that stretch from historical exhibits to cutting-edge green plant development. And needless to say, the scenery is something like that out of a Longfellow or Frost poem.
So our journey took us around the outside border of the Gardens area, which of course included a gift shop, and a trolley tour for those who were either lazy enough to traipse around themselves or wise enough to know not to. There were people all around, picnicing and enjoying a day out with families, and exploring the world that has been created there.
I definitely would have to say that the Kew Palace was one of my favourite sites there--it's an old-fashioned three-story mansion that contains some very interesting relics from the time of George III, as well as an absolutely immaculate backyard garden with a fountain in the center, reminiscent of Shakespearian fountains that you can find in some of the Olivier films. However, my number one site, pictured here, is in the Japanese Garden area of Kew. Just beyond the Zen Gardens and the Japanese Gate, this structure stands erect as easliy the tallest building on the Garden area. If you ever get to be in London, and are looking for a truly relaxing day, Kew is the place to be.