Sunday, May 8, 2011

April 7th: London, It Keeps On Coming

I had an early take-out lunch in front of the Tower of London. I spent the first part of the morning doing a bit of shopping, and apparently didn't take any pictures.

But yes, sometimes I take pictures of my food. :) 

And my view from my lunch spot...

The Tower of London was incredibly interesting. When I first arrived, I joined a tour being led by one of the Tower's Yeomen Warders/Beefeaters. I'm glad I did, as he had much more information and history to share about the individual buildings than I ever would have got out of the place on my own. And, it didn't hurt that he was incredibly funny as well!

This is him below.

Below is Traitor's Gate, it was the water entrance to the Tower of London. Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Sir Thomas More all entered the tower this way.

There was a small assortment of coins tossed in this doesn't seem like the most hopeful of places to make a wish though, don't you think?

Above, that's the outer wall on the left, the inner wall and some of the towers/buildings are on the right.

Not knowing anything about the Tower of London before I visited, or having seen any pictures, I had always pictured it to be just one tower...oh, how I was wrong. :) It's two sets of walls, surrounded by what was once a moat, with dozens of buildings and smaller towers. The picture below is of the White Tower, which sits in the center of the complex.

The picture below shows Tower Green, surrounded by some of the residences. If I remember correctly, these particular buildings are the ones kept as residences for the king and/or queen of England.

Executions on Tower Green were reserved for those of high rank. Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey (who was queen for all of nine days and only 16 at the time) were all executed here. The majority of executions weren't actually carried out within the Tower grounds, but on nearby Tower Hill.

They were buried in the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula, which we were lucky enough to go into as part of our tour. It's located  back and to the right of the picture here.

The guard below was on duty infront of the Waterloo Barracks which house the Crown Jewels. You weren't allowed to take pictures in there, of course, but wow, that was cool to see!

Inside the White Tower is a museum. My favourite part of it were the suits of armour. The first one here was King Henry VIII's.

The next group shows a variety of different armours. The giant suit on the right was built for someone standing about 6' 6" or 6'8" if I remember correctly....standing next to the child, it looks massive! The gold and silver armour on the left belongs to a young teen. The suit of armour on the far left side, mostly cut out of the picture, is built for an average adult.

Also in the White Tower, St. John's Chapel. The light in there was gorgeous! I'm a little sad that it was just a bit too dim for me to caapture better with my little camera.

The plaque below is for Edward V and his brother Richard, sons of Edward IV. They arrived in London in 1483 for Edward V's coronation upon the death of his father...Edward V was barely a teenager. At the time the Tower was the royal residence.

Sometime during that year the two princes dissapeared, and their uncle was crowned king. Their fate is unknown, but in 1674, the bones of two children were found under a staircase during renovations to the White Tower.

Not at all suspicious, right?

After leaving the White Tower, I took a walk along one of the outer walls to some of the outer towers. This picture below was taken from that area, and gives a better view of the White Tower plus the trees which were starting to blossom. It was such a lovely spring day! 

All parts of the Tower of London were used as prisons at one time or another. These carvings were left by prisoners in one of the smaller outer towers...

And another "Tower Guard"...

 From the top of the same wall, looking out to the River Thames. Thats Tower Bridge through the branches.

And now without the branches...

I tried to take pictures of myself with the bridge in the background by holding that camera out at arms-length. Harder than it looks! 

So after hours at the Tower of London, I hopped back on the tube, and headed for one final destination...Harrods!

It was all-things-Switzerland week there, hence the Swiss flags.

Craziest (in a good way) store I've ever been in, seriously! It's like a multi-story mansion with each enormous room given a theme and turned into a store selling that particular thing. And beautifully decorated. I could have spent ages in there getting lost.

As it was, I bought some cheap Doctor Who dvds and a new converter to plug in my laptop...exciting, I know! :)

On a side note: Seriously...with the converters...why would they make a converter for North America to the UK/Europe, and then make it only usable with two prong plugs....not the three prongs that my laptop cord has! Forcing me to go searching for a new one, in a city where I wouldn't even know which stores to look for to find one! Grrr! Yay Harrods for having an awesome travel section! :)

This was also the evening of my Contiki tour pre-departure meeting, which was short and sweet, but got us briefly introduced to our tour manager and driver. And informed us that we had to meet up again at 6 am the next morning to get checked in and on the bus. Ouch!

Anyways, thats the 7th of April rounded up. I'm only a month behind. :)
More coming, as soon as I can make myself sort through it!


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