Your Amazing Race: London Calling

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British Guards Marching at the Changing of the Guards


Wikimedia Commons

What a Day in London
The Amazing Race is known for creating unique detours for the racers that give the viewers at home some insight into the local culture.  This week’s detour took place around the Palace of Westminster. The historic location is the home to the British Parliament and stands neighbor to Westminster Abbey. Both should be on your list of Things to See While in London.

Arriving at Westminster, teams had to decide between About Face and Pancake Race. While I couldn’t find any experiences that would match both of these identically, I think we’ve gotten pretty close.

About Face: Becoming Her Majesty’s Guards
This detour option had the contestants dress up in the traditional red coats of Her Majesty’s guards. Each team selected a British version of a Drill Sergeant and set out to learn a marching routine. Once memorized, the steps and techniques had to then be performed for the head Sergeant. If performed correctly, the teams could advance.

The Queen’s Guard


Wikimedia Commons

Through all my research, I was not able to find any Learn How to March Like Her Majesty’s Guards classes. You can however, take in the beauty of the guard’s march at the daily Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. Hopefully this landmark is already a planned stop for your vacation. The schedule for this impressive march can be found on the Guard’s website. A major bonus to this activity is that it is FREE! Anyone can gather outside the palace gates to see this daily routine.

If you choose to visit, make sure to take note of the colors the guards are carrying. If the colors are crimson, the Queen is in residence. Another clue will be the number of guards posted at the entrances. If there are four guards, she’s home. If there are only two, I’m sure she’s having a wonderful holiday that us commoners can only dream of.

More from International Travel

Pancake Race: You’ve Got to be Flipping Me
The second detour option is one that you could participate in, if you wanted to! The race depicted in Victoria Gardens is real. Each Shrove Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday), teams from the British House of Commons, House of Lords and the Press compete for the title of Parliamentary Pancake Race Champions. The race is a charity event for an organization called Rehab in the UK. Now, I know what you’re thinking. I said you could participate, but you are not a member of Parliament or the British media — If you are, I’m honored that you’re reading my post.

The tradition of the pancake race is observed in many towns across the world actually. The oldest race is in a town called Olney at Buckinghamshire and still continues today. Since 1445, contestants, usually women, race with a frying pan through a 415 yard course. As per the rules, racers must toss the pancake in their frying pan at both the starting line and the finish. They must also be in proper attire — an apron and a scarf. If men want to participate, they must dress up as a housewife with their own apron and head wrap.  A list of towns all over the world can be found on Wikipedia’s Shrove Tuesday page.