London can be awful dreary when it rains in the winter, so what better day to take a trip to the Tower?
Jenni and I exercised our mad foreign city public transportation skills again and left our hotel at the airport and headed into the city. when we arrived, my suite wasn’t ready, so I left my bags in Jenni’s room and headed out to the Tower of London. We walked to the underground and right past Westminster Abbey where hoards of people were standing in the rain waiting to get in. we decided to hit it on the way back and boarded the train.
Upon arrival, we were ushered right in and made it just in time to take a tour led by one of Her Majesty’s Beefeaters. He gave a delightful talk about the bloody history of the Tower. We also learned how Beefeaters got their name. Well, we learned they don’t know how they got their name and we should never ever ask them! He pointed out some interesting sights like the Queen’s Apartments, where Henry’s queens lived before they were executed. He told us that when they were trying to repair the floor during Victoria’s reign, they uncovered 1,500 bodies, most of which we unaccounted for. A few were identified, like Henry the Eighth’s sister, who tried to run from the executioner and was chased down and hacked to bits with his ax. Apparently she was easy to pick out. Afterwards we toured the crown jewels. This was my favorite exhibit, though I was disappointed that the only ones on display were from more recent years. Don’t get me wrong, there are no bad crowns! But I’d hoped to see some of Elizabeth the Firsts pearls and such, so that was kind of a let down.
Another highlight was the Bloody Tower, named for the two princes who disappeared and were believed murdered. The exhibit laid out the case and presented evidence and then visitors were allowed to name the villian. (Richard III did it, case closed!)
We popped into the white tower just in time to join another tour examining the armory, the chapel, and the royal apartments. we viewed Henry VIII’s horse armor, his armor from younger years, and his iron codpiece. Seriously, that codpiece was HUGE, it could have had it’s own exhibit. Small children could have bathed in that thing. They could have turned it upside down on the roof, caught the rain water from the last few years, and ended the drought inAfrica with it. Apparently, Henry was a very proud man!
We took a break for a quick lunch. If you ever eat at the To
wer, get the onion soup, thank me later. After some browsing in the gift shop we were off to Westminster.
Turns out, everyone lines up early on Saturdays in spite of the weather, because it closes at 1:30! Britain, I love you, but you could earn more tourism bucks if you had more operating hours! We took a stroll through the gift shop and then headed out to find a tea shop.
After a fortifying slice of cake and a cup of tea, we waded back out and made the trek to Buckingham Palace. The weather was pretty miserable, so we trudged along the Birdcage Walk and returned to the hotel.
My palatial suite was ready, but we decided to find a pub and grab a pint with dinner. The staff sent us to The White Swan. The place was hopping! Terribly busy with lots of adorable Christmas scenes painted on the window. Unfortunately, there was also a sign on the door that said that “due to unforeseen” circumstances they were not serving any food tonight of any sort. Jenni and I are nothing if not resourceful, so we continued on the road until we did find a pub.
The Gallery was clearly a place for locals, but we ordered a pint and a burger and sat at the window to admire the London fashion parading past.
Tomorrow is our last day in London, so I’ll leave you to anticipate tomorrow’s adventures!