Travels Abroad, part IV

LONDON DAY 4

 

After today, Will and I only have one word for you: Ow. Today we tried to take full advantage of our London Pass. We got a pretty late start, however, as we decided to try and catch up on some of our sleep. Silly us. As a result, we didn’t get down to the pass office til almost 11 (it opened at 10 so we didn’t do too bad). We decided to start with a bang and set off for the Tower of London.

Walking up to it you can see why people were terrified of the Tower. Aside from its actual use, the place is incredibly intimidating from the outside. Using our passes, we skipped the ticket line and went right in. Starting as we walked in was a free tour guided by a Yeoman Warder. We decided to tag along and boy am I glad we did. Our guide was hilarious and knew his stuff about the Tower.

 

We saw the Bloody Tower, the Traitor’s Gate (which was known as the Water Gate until Elizabeth), the Tower Green (complete with monument to the 6 or 7 people that were executed there), and the chapel on the Tower Grounds. In the chapel is Anne Boelyn’s tomb (along with many others including Catherine Howard) and there was a rose lying on her tomb because today was the anniversary of her execution. How cool is that! (Well, not her execution but that Will and I were there on the anniversary of her execution.)

 

After the tour, we ventured in to see the crown jewels. They were breathtaking. They had many of the scepters used by past monarchs, the stole the current Queen was coronated in, coronation robes from the 1600s, multiple crowns encrusted with the largest jewels I’ve ever seen, and so much more. It was amazing. After that we went to where the “boy’s toys” (as our Yeoman Warder referred to them) were kept – the White Tower.

 

I’m not sure what the original use for this building was but now it’s the armory museum. Outside of the displays at Windsor, I’ve never seen so many weapons. Luckily we could take pictures in the White Tower and they had displays of guns and swords modeled on the ones at Windsor so you’ll get to see how impressive these things really are. Touring the White Tower was pretty funny because Will and I decided that after the first floor we would leave and move on to St. Paul’s but there was no way out! You have to go through the whole museum to get to the exit. It was really cool to see it all but Will and I could not stop laughing the entire time.

 

After the Tower, we went on to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was as moving as Notre Dame. It was gorgeous inside. There were mosaics on the ceiling and gilded arches and monuments to so many people. There was even a monument to the American casualties in WW I and II which was really cool.

 

St. Paul’s was neat because you can climb their dome. There are three levels. The Whispering Level overlooks the chapel from the dome. The Stone Level takes you outside and gives you views overlooking London. The Golden (?) Level is even higher overlooking London. We only intended on going to the Stone Level but couldn’t resist going to the highest point, the end result being we climbed a total of 868 stairs at St. Paul’s alone today. Needless to say we’re excited for our day of flying and bus tour of Edinburgh tomorrow as there will be limited walking. But we do have some great pictures!

 

We then ventured to the National Portrait Gallery. There’s an exhibit of many of the iconic Vanity Fair portraits there now that we got to see for free. It was amazing. There were pictures of Charlie Chaplain, Ernest Hemingway, Aldous Huxley, Douglas Fairbanks & Mary Pickford, Georgia O’Keefe, Princess Di, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martha Graham, and on and on and on.

 

Will and I then split up because the museum was close to closing and we wanted to see different things. Will headed upstairs to see the historical portraits of the Tudors and I headed across the hall to see the “Bluestockings” who were women who held salons in the 1600’s and tried to further the cause of women’s education. Very cool. (You can tell I’m a little tired as the descriptions of what we did are getting shorter and shorter. =P)

 

Because we still had a little time before everything closed, we wandered across the street to St. Marks in the Fields. This is a church off Trafalgar Square that has the coolest basement ever. They have a cafeteria and a gift shop where you can do brass rubbings on brass plaques they have stored there. We found out about this in the London Pass guide book and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do something crafty and to have a unique souvenir of London. Will did a rubbing in gold wax of a Celtic circle and I did a rubbing in silver wax of a plaque of a woman named Mary (I think — I should have written it down) who I fell in love with when I saw her. We had fun making fun of my art skills and pretending we were 5 again. It was also really nice to get off our feet for a little while.

 

After finishing our rubbings, we explored Trafalgar Square and took our picture with the lions. We then realized exactly how hungry we were and braved the rush hour metro to come back towards Hyde Park for some food. We ate at this really great Indian restaurant called Mahal. Aaaaamazing food. I’m completely stuffed. Will was hilarious and ordered a beer, an OJ, and a mango lassi. The waiter looked at him like he was nuts.

 

And now it’s back at the hotel! Will is upstairs probably passed out on the bed watching BBC 5. I’m about to check our flight and see if I can check us in online as that saved so much time last time. Hope all is well! Miss you!

 

Love from us both,

 

Carrie

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