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Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh, Henry! Is that what I think it is?

In 2004 I visited London for the first time.  I stayed with my camp friend Chris (little did I know, this would cause quite the buzz as people thought Chris and I were dating.  Ummmm....no) and knowing that money was tight for him, I offered to pay for his ticket into the Tower of London.

Off we went and he was a complete party pooper.
He hated London, so in turn, he didn't care AT ALL about what London had to offer.  So when we hit the Tower of London, we probably spent a grand total of 40 minutes there.  Of that 40 minutes, 30 was spent in line to see the Crown Jewels.

Needless to say, I didn't take in hardly anything, and this time around, I wasn't about to let that happen.

Of all the things you could see in London....THIS is worth every single penny.

We got to the Tower right when it opened and got to see this:

The ceremonial unlocking of the Tower.
I do have to wonder about the dude in the back...can he even see?  I mean, I know their hats look like they're covering their eyes anyway, but it looks like he might run into someone if he isn't careful!

Anyway, after we watched this, we high tailed it to the Jewel Room.  Which is really a vault.  Like a "we're serious, don't mess with us" kind of vault.  I would encourage ANYONE who is going to the Tower to not only get there right away in the morning, but see the Crown Jewels first.  You beat the crowds and get lots of time to oohhh and ahhhh over the goods.  

And, of course...no photos were allowed inside.  
(again, I think this is just a way for them to sucker you into buying the books)
(yes.  I was that sucker)
(well played, Tower of London.  Well played.)

Everything is behind glass (naturally), accented with track lighting.  The Coronation Robe, maces, crowns...the whole enchilada.  As we made our way over to the crowns themselves, there is no room for dilly-dallying.  There is a moving sidewalk on both sides of these jewel cases.  It moves pretty slow, so you get ample time to gawk.  We took the moving sidewalk down one side, got off, walked up to read the signs that explain the jewels and then took the moving sidewalk on the other side.

In a word? Stunning.

After we finished gawking, we headed out to catch the Yeoman Warder tour.

Yeoman Warder.  Otherwise known as Beefeater.
No clue why they're called a Beefeater.  Seriously.  No one really knows.  But we caught the first tour with a guy named Jimmy.  Here he is.

He may look serious, but honestly, he was a RIOT.  So funny and really made the tour fly by.
On the tour we saw where Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII's 2nd wife) lost her head.
We learned about the ravens and their importance to the Tower.

We also ventured into the White Tower.  There was a lot of history to read and take in at the White Tower, but I can tell you that just knowing that Henry VIII and other historical English royalty was there--was just awesome.

Of course there was the armor, too.  Like this:

But the most, ummm, interesting?
Henry VIII's armor.
That's not his thumb.
I know what you're saying...."wait.  Is that....covering....THAT?"

Yes it is.
The inner 8 year old boy inside of me laughed out loud.
Talk about protecting the family jewels.
(come on.  That was funny.)

But with all of Henry VIII's, ummm, good graces aside....the coolest part of the day?  Getting to meet the only female beefeater.

Never mind my dishevled expression and appearance.  
it was VERY windy and I was tired.  Give me a break.
However, she was super cool and very gracious.

Here are some other fun photos from the Tower....
Monkey statues outside of the crown jewels.
Apparently it was common for wild animals to be at the Tower.

Caught ya'!
Wonder what he was looking at?

We headed to St Paul's Cathedral after our tour of the Tower.  I have no exciting stories to share about the church--other than it was AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL.  Of course, no photos were allowed inside (go figure.  And yes.  I got suckered into buying post cards).

Up next....our trip to the liquid nitrogen ice-cream place!


Rebecca Jo said...

"Bloody deeds" ... wow...

That armor... WOW!!!!!

Those monkey's? FREAKY WOW!!!!

Hula Girl at Heart said...

We LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Tower of London. In fact, it was my daughter's favorite stop in London. Those Beefeaters are hilarious, no?