Monday, January 26, 2009

London: Day Three

I woke refreshed and ready for Day Three --the first day I would be out on my own without Brandon (he had to work). So, I got everything I needed (except I forgot water. That is a HUGE no-no --as I later found out. The hard way.) and headed for the underground.
I took the tube to the Tower of London. To most people (and me?) the Tower of London evokes an image of a big tower where people were imprisoned (you know, like all of Henry VIII's wives) before they were executed, head-chopped-off-style. But it is much, much different. The Tower of London has been around for almost a thousand years. It was the fortress and palace for the English monarchy, and so it served as that: Living Quarters for Royalty. The reason it became known as such a horrific place is because the armory was there, prisoners were held there, and executions occurred in the square.
Okay, so I spent the whole morning at the Tower of London, and here are some pictures of the place (this is just a taste of the hundreds I took; click on it to see it bigger):
I would go into great detail, but I'm not going to. Instead here are some interesting anecdotes:
*All the crown jewels are held in the Jewel House (under heavy, heavy guard) and so I got to see all the scepters, robes, dishes, and crowns used for coronations, weddings, etc. It was so cool!
*The Tower of London was built upon the old Roman fortress, and there are still some of the roman walls standing (pieces of them).
*My guide was awesome, and I failed to get a picture of him. All members of the Queen's Guard (the tour guides --seriously! The tour guides are SOLDIERS.) have served in the British military for at least 22 years and have received a medal of some kind (heroic, maybe?). So this means the tour guides --the tour guides --are SOLDIERS. I think this has a lot to do with the value of the place. Anyway, so my guide was one of these guys. He was hilarious, and very good. I felt a twinge of disappointment that I hadn't asked to get his picture, and 2 days later, I really regretted it: I was watching a film on Princess Diana at the hotel (late at night), and guess who was one of the guards (in the front) who carried her casket during her funeral?! Yes! My guide! I was kicking myself. Sigh.
*In some of the towers where prisoners were kept, there is still graffiti carved into the walls --hundreds of years old! It was so cool!
*The money spent to get inside the Tower of London was worth every cent. I loved it, there! Loved it! This was seriously one of the highlights for me.
After I finished the Tower of London, I stopped at a small fish and chips counter. Yum! Then I walked along the Thames (going east) and crossed the Tower Bridge (which was built under the reign of Queen Victoria in the 1880's and is not London Bridge!):

On the other side, I headed back west and got a few good shots of the Tower of London from across the river:

And then I continued to walk along, looking at cool things, like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Next, I crossed the Millennium Bridge and walked to St. Paul's Cathedral. It was so beautiful! I didn't go inside because I wanted Brandon to go in with me later (you have to pay to enter most famous buildings and cathedrals in London):

After pausing for some time in the gardens of St. Paul's, I finally got back on the tube and headed for Queensway. I got out, and walked through Kensington Park. It was huge! I wanted to see Kensington Palace (where Princess Diana lived), but it was closing down for the day, so I only got to see the outside --which was okay with me. I was spent! (I didn't realize how dehydrated I was until I got back to the hotel.) It was nice just walking through some of the Kensington gardens and the rest of the park:

By then, I was pretty tired, so I walked back to the hotel and slept for a little bit before Brandon called to say when he'd be home. That night, we went out with Brandon's colleague and his wife. They took us to a great traditional English restaurant called Bumpkin's (It was in Notting Hill!) The dinner was wonderful and the conversation even better. We stayed at the restaurant until 11PM! Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel.


Annette Lyon said...

COOL!!! When I was ten and headed to Finland, we stopped off in London for 3 days or something (just enough to whet the appetite). The three things I remember: the wax museum, the Tower of London, and the crown jewels. And the royal carrieages. Okay, that's 4. DYING to go back and see more of it and as an adult--so thanks for chronicling the trip!

Susan M said...

That is soooo cool. Thanks for posting all the photos. Love looking at them.

Grandma Rozla said...

Oh man, I wish you would have taken me with you. You really make me want to go there!

Anonymous said...

Ooooooh, look at all the pretty pictures!

Cardalls said...

LOVE LOVE the "Beefeaters" (the guides)at the Tower of London...that is one of my highlights too.