Tuesday, January 11, 2011

London Day 2

Our second day in London we headed straight to the Tower of London. It was about a 45 minute tube ride. It was so cold and windy that day. It started off foggy but cleared up after we left the Tower. However it was still COLD!

The Tower of London was really neat. To see this fortress in the middle of a modern city was just amazing. Right after we walked in the gate we saw one of the Beefeaters giving a tour so we joined it. It was so interesting and fun. The Beefeaters are actually called Yeomen Warders and they are the ceremonial guardians of the Tower. They actually live at the tower as well.

After the tour we went inside the Jewel House where all the crown jewels are housed. No pictures were allowed unfortunately. First we saw some videos that described various uses of the jewels and crowns. Then we walked through some THICK doors - probably 2 feet - into a vault sort of room. All of the crowns used over the years are located in the middle of two moving walkways so you just get on and "ride" past them. We also saw a lot of dinnerware used for royal ceremonies. These royals know how to throw a party!

We visited the White Tower and saw a huge collection of armor plus we saw the ravens. One of the Yeoman Warders acts as the Raven-master. It is a legend that if the ravens ever leave the White Tower it will crumble and fall along with the monarchy. So they have naturally clipped the ravens wings!! And once when a German actually killed 4 of the ravens they purchased an extra to act as a 'backup' and live in another place then together with the other 6. Amusing..

After eating lunch in one of the restaurants at the tower we headed back to the tube to go to St. Paul's Cathedral. It was amazing! We actually went inside - although it was close to closing - and were able to hear their choir and orchestra practicing for the Messiah concert that night. Double amazing!

I had wanted to go to the British Museum but we weren't sure we would make it on time. After riding the tube to the nearest stop and wandering around - because the signs weren't very helpful - we finally found it and arrived about an hour before closing. It's free and has artifacts from all over the world. We saw the Rosetta Stone right away and then just wandered around until they closed.

Finally we headed to Trafalger Square. Although we were there at night it was still beautiful. I loved the huge lions especially. They also had fountains that were lit up with different colors. So pretty and it was neat to see the lights of the city. We ate at a nearby restaurant and I finally had the traditional fish & chips. It was one big piece of fish but it was pretty good.

We had a wonderful time in London. I wish we could have stayed longer - there was so much to see but overall we checked everything off of our list

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