Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Tower of London


Our last day together in London was a busy one. We woke up relatively early, had a good buffet breakfast in the hotel and boarded the Harrow-on-the-Hill Underground Station only a 5 minute walk away for our trip to finally see the Tower of London.

In London they have all these throwaway newspapers that are being handed out all at the entrances to the Tube, "Mind the Gap". I was trying to read (remember, it's Rockin' n Rollin' train service here) one this morning on the way into London when I came upon the following article.  

HEATWAVE!
Is this what Martha and the Vandellas were singing about years ago?

I mentioned what great and unseasonable weather we encountered in Paris, not so in London. As you can see from this article it is HOT here in London! On the Tube they even announced that all riders should carry a bottle of liquid to stay hydrated on the ride due to the intense heat. Heat related heat issues are a very real concern here.

In the picture above, some Londoners are seen trying to escape the sweltering temperatures by riding in small boats called punts on a lake or perhaps it's a river in Cambridge on Monday.

If you can't read the article, it says that the reason for this nautical adventure is the "HEATWAVE" gripping all of England through this Thursday. The temperatures got up to 25 degrees Celsius which equals an unbelievable 77 degrees Fahrenheit!!!

I wonder why British people all seem so pale?

Harrow

This is a very quaint village where our hotel is located away from all the hubbub of London. Our hotel is just around the bend to the right.

Even this bank in Harrow is worth a picture due to it's architecture.

NO PICTURES!

Inside the Tower of London you are not allowed to take pictures of the Crown Jewels so this will have to do.

The Crown Jewels are spectacular and include the world's largest diamond. In order to keep people from crowding around, they have built a people mover on both sides of the display of the crowns so that you can get close to the them but but can't hog the view. Laurie took two laps to see and appreciate them. 

Laurie loves guys in uniform, this Beefeater was no exception!

The White Tower houses the boy toys.

Inside are all sorts of weapons both big and small plus tons of battle armor.

View from the execution spot

Only eight people were ever executed in private inside the walls of the Tower instead of the much more common public execution area outside the walls. These eight condemned souls were either wives or close friends of the King. The Tudor style buildings to the right was the place prisoners were held before execution.

Yet another example of Laurie and and her love of uniformed men!

This guard was stationed outside the entrance to the building housing the Crown Jewels. I'm guessing that the machine gun is not faithful to the medieval time period we associate with the Tower but it would be quite effective if needed I'm sure!

This is the stronghold that houses the Crown Jewels.

Laurie taking a break on a parapet

After we left the Tower, we hustled back to the hotel to grab Laurie's belongings and get her to London's Heathrow Airport for her 5:00 p.m. flight home on Air France. We got there in plenty of time, thank goodness, because the line to check-in was a mess. The quick, automatic check-in kiosk was only accepting the data from about 25% of the passengers, but Laurie was not one of them. We had to get into a very long line for over one hour to check in.

Now here was the problem, the baggage drop for few, lucky automatic check-in people had three people working their three desks, their lines were never more than two deep. The people flying anything but economy had their own 3 people working a different three desks for their needs. Again, the queues were never more than two deep for them.

Our huge line? ONLY ONE PERSON TO CHECK US IN!!! Even the Frenchmen in line were angry at their national airline.

We finally were able to say our goodbyes at security with about 45 minutes to spare and she was off! 

Heraldry
As I have mentioned before, I love all the colors and symbols of the medieval heraldry system, so naturally this display in Piccadilly Circus caught my eye.

I stopped here on the way back to the hotel to see about going to one more play, hopefully wide awake this time. I purchased a ticket for a "spine-chilling thriller" of a play called "The Woman in Black" at the Fortune Theatre for Wednesday night. I'm taking a nap today!

London is in Full Bloom

After buying my theatre ticket from a broker, I decided to walk the 10 minutes to where the Fortune Theatre was located so as not to get lost Wednesday night. The walk took me through some new and unexplored parts of London.

Of course there were pubs everywhere

Did I mention that the British love their ale?

Street musicians and entertainers are everywhere too

These two produced some sweet sounds out of whatever these previously unseen musical instruments are called. I bought their CD, they were so good and unusual.

Did I say "Full Bloom"?

This restaurant/pub is about 50 yards from the Fortune Theatre. A pre-game meal here on Wednesday may be in order.

The crest of the nearby Theatre Royal Drury Lane


This stained glass lunette is above the main entrance door to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Another English Pub in Covent Garden

They sell tobacco from the colonies in Covent Garden too! 

This street performer knows how to attract a crowd

Covent Garden is teeming with people eating, shopping, strolling or just looking for a positive outlet for their energies after toiling for another day.

The Fat Controller?

As for me, I got back to Harrow early to get some rest but had to stop into this pub first about two blocks from the hotel to have a pint with the locals.

I asked the barkeep which of the beers on tap would help me control my weight the best, she laughed and poured me a local brew named "Courage". The tap looked normal but when she went to pour it was really an old fashioned pump. She had to pull the handle down three times to draw the golden ale into my glass. I felt very much the tourist watching her pour.

So I now have two full days in London left before flying home to Camarillo on Friday. That should be enough time to see a few more interesting sights in and around London.

2 comments:

DPLassen said...

No pictures of the crown jewels? Gee, all those taking-pictures-where-not-allowed skills you developed in Italy seem to have gone out the window when there's an executioner's block just outside the door.

George said...

EXACTLY!