Saturday, October 18, 2014

London Day 2 - From the Tower to Sherlock

I slept like a rock and woke up refreshed and excited to start the day. Clouds and drizzly rain had rolled in overnight but I didn’t mind the weather since we’d be touring the Tower of London, which was kind of a gloomy place. At the tower, we explored on our own starting with the White Tower, the oldest section of the castle built in 1079. We walked through the Line of Kings exhibit, a collection of armor that had been on display for over 300 years, the world’s longest running tourist attraction. The three suits of armor belonging to King Henry VIII showed the progression of his waistline over the years. The last suit, worn when Henry was in his late 40’s, was very round. It also had a disturbingly prominent codpiece. To quote Shrek, “Do you think he’s maybe compensating for something?”

My favorite part of the Tower of London was the Crown Jewels. The display of crowns, scepters and swords was mind-boggling, both for their monetary and their historic value. These were not fake, replacement jewels. They were the real things, worn for centuries by kings and queens. There was also a large collection of golden plates and a gigantic, ornately decorated punch bowl, humorously described in Mary’s guidebook as “what punch bowls would look like if punch bowls went insane.” :-)

Tower of London
the Tower of London

entrance to Tower of London

Tower of London Norman window

Line of Kings exhibit

with Mary and Mama at the Tower of London

After the tower, we took the Circle Tube line for a walk through British literature. First stop was King’s Cross Station, where young wizards board the train to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books. An area had been set up to look like Platform 9 ¾ where you could have your picture taken “walking through the wall”. There was a long line for photos so we didn’t bother, but it was fun watching other people get their pictures taken.

We ate lunch right there at the station at a very cool pub called The Parcel Yard. My chicken pie was absolutely delicious. Who knew that “train fare” could be so good? It was also here that I discovered the joy of cider. I don’t drink beer so I’d been getting a little jealous watching Mary and Jenny sampling all the ales. Finally, I could have a pint with them. Yay for cider! :-)

King's Cross Station
King's Cross Station

The Parcel Yard

enjoying a pint

Since Mary and Jenny are big fans of the BBC show Sherlock, our next stop was 221 Baker Street, home of the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I’ve never read any of the Arthur Conan Doyle books or watched the show but I enjoyed seeing how a lodging house would have looked in the 1880s.

Sherlock Holmes Museum

By the time we left the museum and took the Tube back to Victoria Station, it was late afternoon and the skies had cleared. We all wanted to see at least one of London parks during the trip and this was probably our last opportunity, so we decided to walk to St James’s Park. But first we had to pick up some coffee for Mama, who was starting to lag. The coffee really did the trick because she took off like a rocket and we could barely keep up with her. Yay for coffee! :-)  On the way to the park, we passed Buckingham Palace where we marveled at the huge gates and picked out the balcony where William and Kate had their wedding kiss. St James’s Park was beautiful and serene, with a long pond filled with ducks and swans. From the bridge across the pond, we had a gorgeous view of the London Eye and the Horse Guard Parade in the glow of the sunset.

Buckingham Palace gates
Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

St James's Park

St James's Park

Day 3 - Stonehenge and Bath

1 comment:

  1. I prefer apple cider over beer too! I had my first cider at the enlisted men's club at a base in Holy Loch Scotland during my time in the navy. I was glad to find an alternative to beer.