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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 3: Take me Downtown!!

So today we did our tour of what I would say is more of a 'central' part of London. We ourselves are indeed situated just alongside Buckingham Palace Road, and St. George's Drive. So we were literally only 15 minutes away from Buckingham, and less than half an hour away from the National Gallery! But to get all the way to the London Bridge is indeed a bit of a trek, and so transportation is recommended if you're carrying a bunch of stuff.

So today, we boarded an underground train and went to the fantastic Tower of London!! It's located just alongside the River Thames, and was first founded way back when... almost a thousand years ago (1066 AD). It housed royalty the likes of Richard the Lionheart, Henry the III, and Edward the III. Most famously, though, it's probably known for all the deaths and imprisonments there. Famously, there is a tale of two princes who disappeared in the tower... and in addition, Lady Jane Grey was held there. I admit when I heard the name 'Jane Grey' I immediately thought of Fable II and marrying that zombie woman (actually I passed, but I think one of my brothers married her).

Anyway, the tower was the oldest looking and most traditional part of London I'd yet seen. The cobblestone walkways were wide and had plenty of room for souvenir shops and people (many people). we got some pictures from outside first, and saw the large open field surrounding the castle. Not surprisingly, it was at one time a mote! But of course it had long since been drained and put to other purposes. We went inside and saw what are called Beefeaters; also known as Yeoman Warders. The Beefeaters are responsible for guarding the ower and the Crown Jewels... but there is yet one other, less popularly known duty. One Beefeater, the Ravenmaster, is responsible for caring for the ravens of the Tower! It has long been said that if the ravens were to ever leave the tower, the tower and the kingdom's rule will crumble. I got that bit off wikipedia, but still interesting none the less, no? To be honest I had the Beefeaters confused with the Grenadier Guards for a little while -- they are not the same! Beefeaters reside at the Tower of London and have a stout costume, whereas the Grenadier Guards have the tall black furry cap and stand before the palace Buckingham. Of course, even fancier than they are the Life Guards -- those who look like high ranking Grenadier Guards.
Anyway! Enough lessons. Back to what happened. It was a long, long walk throughout the tower and old buildings. You can tell when new additions have been made to the Tower because you literally see the development in the walls of stone. That was nifty! Also, the tower was where Henry the VIII's wives were supposedly killed. So if only walls could talk, eh? In a sense they could, because graffiti was found all throughout the tower in many of the holding areas. You can even see that from the past, someone had carved my own initials in to the wall... "A.T".

After all that we went to see the London Bridge and the HMS Belfast. The bridge was an obviously obvious must-see attraction and although educational, it would not have been worth the tickets if we didn't get in for free. We did see the bridge raise though, so that was cool in its own right. Fact: Only ten people died in the construction of the bridge! Back then that was good, I take it?

The HMS Belfast was interesting even though it was from a time period I am not too fond of, and in addition to that it was covered in asbestus. There were signs everywhere! Regardless, we got a few pictures with the big boat guns and whatnot anyway. We went on the boat and back to Kensington station area (a tour boat, not the HMS Belfast boat, as it is a musuem!). The tour guide wasn't a tourguide but rather just part of the crew (or so he says), amd we saw bunches of things in the river including the Royal Academy, Cleopatra's Monument, the London Eye, and others. Afterward we went to a restaurant called Locale that was really good. It was Italian and satiated KP's crave for spaghetti, but they also had delicious lasagne. Who am I kidding? Everything was delicious. It was the best damn Italian restaurant I've ever been to.

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