Off to the Tower … of London

One of the reasons I enjoy traveling alone is that I don’t have to sleep on anyone’s schedule but my own. On the other hand, I may sleep later than I really meant to. Oh well, I was ready to go find the towers of London … both the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. I had already walked across London Bridge several times since it is now in my home state of Arizona fully reconstructed. I eschewed the hop on hop off bus and used my Oyster card and took the Underground to the monument station. Once above ground there were signs pointing the way. hmmm must be a popular spot.

As I meandered my way towards the Tower my eye was caught by a bit of gold way up high. The monument. It is in commemoration of the great fire of the mid 1600’s.

After taking a few photos, I headed on to the Tower. So here is another oddity of naming. It’s not just a tower, but an entire castle. It is in fact, the castle commissioned by William of Normandy aka the Conqueror.

I exchanged my voucher for a real ticket and followed the crowd inside. It was only 5 minutes before the next tour with a yeoman warder so I followed the signs and waited for him to show. Interestingly enough these yeoman warders are actually military folks with over 20 years of service before they are eligible for this duty. The warder for our group actually has on site home, along with others, including a physcian and a chaplain for the castle. Here’s a pic of their homes.

The blue door on the left was the entrance for the home of the yeoman wander conducting our tour. At least part of the above was constructed on orders of King Henry the VIII for his beloved 2nd wife Ann Boleyn. Sadly she lost her head before she got to enjoy it. Ahh those fickle kings of yore….

There are a number of areas within the castle where pictures cannot be taken – such as the chapel and the rooms housing the crown jewels. And yes that was a plural on the rooms housing the crown jewels …. there are a boatload of them. A few were not on display as they were in active use, such as the ceremonial gold maces that are required before the House of Commons and the House of Lords can convene.

After viewing that I went to the memories exhibit to see what the well dressed medieval knight would wear….

Impressive, yes???

How about King Henry’s attire?

Ah well, from there I took a walk around the battlements to soak up the picturesque gargoyles.

I think I should add a few gargoyles to my home except I’m not sure they exactly fit in with my Sante Fe style house.

I spent several hours poking about including checking out the old Norman garderobe in the white tower …. viewing it – not using it!!!!! Modern plumbing has been installed and the garderobe are still there only as historical information!!

From the battlements I had a great view of Tower Bridge so I completed by tour and headed in that direction.

The tower bridge has an upper pedestrian way and the lower part of the bridge opens to allow large ships through (drawbridge). The upper pedestrian portion includes a glass walkway so you can see all the way down to the Thames.

So almost everyone over 30 scooted around the edges of the glass portion whereas those under seemed to enjoy sprawling on it. After first scooting around, I did make myself go back and walk across it. My ticket included a tour of the old Victorian engine room which was in use until sometime in the second half of the 20th century. It’s pretty amazing what can be done with Steam power!

After finishing my tour and browsing through the gift shop, I realized it was time to head back to the hotel and cleanup As I needed to pick up my theater tickets and then still go back into Picadilly to see my show…. The Phantom of the opera!.

The play was great although my discount ticket left me with not the most desirable seat but I enjoyed myself anyway. The discount ticket guy had given me instructions for taking the bus both in and out which worked very well getting to the theater. However it took me over an hour to discover that the bus I was supposed to take back was never coming and to suddenly realize that there was an Underground stop less than a block away. The signage said that the last train was at 2354 and it was already 2357 but I was in luck … either the signage was wrong or the trains were late but another train did show up and I headed back to Paddington station and my 10 minute walk to the hotel. 

Boy was I beat … but alls well that ends well!!

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