I decided to blog today. Why?
Frankly it’s because I just finished lunch and I am procrastinating (read: running away from) my final year thesis.
The summer has been interesting. I decided to travel alone for the week to the beautiful, bustling heat infused city of London. People always say it is wet, rainy and cold in London. I almost died of heatstroke. It was so hot.
Before coming home to Ottawa for work and school (final year!) I spent a week digging through history, marvelling landmarks and eating the best British sandwiches. I bought myself a London Pass because I knew I wanted to see as much as I could, and the London Pass allowed me to do just that; 6 days of seeing up to 55 attractions, special deals and included travel fares. I thought it was a nifty deal.
Number one on my list was Westminster Abbey. Because it was number one on their Top Ten Must See Places. I am such a tourist.
I loved Westminster more than I thought I would. I really didn’t know what to expect. But here’s a quick run-down; it is basically a small town of famous dead people underneath tonnes and tonnes of stone, oh and Will and Kate got married there last year. There are statues and memorials for royal families, scientists, heroes, poets and anyone who is important enough to be someone in British society. I saw Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Shakespeare’s tombs (stepped on is more like it).
The abbey was old, so I was very careful to tread lightly and not break any doorknobs or walk into an important candlestick. They had a picture gallery for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in the Chapter (where the monks used to study or hold meetings) and I really enjoyed old pictures of her.
One of my favourite books is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet and it’s about the building of a cathedral in England during the middle ages. I found myself thinking about his characters and the books when I listening to audio guide in the abbey. Too cool for school y’all. I ended my walk through the abbey by accidentally walking through a bouquet of poppies for the Unknown Soldier. Graceful.
I was then nicely told by a guide that I ‘could not walk to Tower Bridge’ and had to take the tube instead.
You’re going to get really tired of hearing this over and over again, but I loved Tower Bridge as well! It was more ‘blue’ in colour than I thought it was. To be honest I recognized the bridge from postcards but didn’t really know of its importance. After receiving an education from the talking video portraits in the exhibit, I learnt that the bridge was constructed after the London Bridge was getting too congested. They held this awesome bridge design contest and this old, fat guy with a moustache won. They built it with hydraulic pumps so the bridge can be ‘lifted up’ so boats can pass.
I am no engineer (I leave that to the main men in my life), but that’s some hard work that I can appreciate! Seeing as though this trip was done solo I have a lot of landmark photos, bad selfies and very few proper shots of me taken by random strangers.
Note; guidebook in hand!
Perhaps it was the lack of my knowledge on British history, but I didn’t know that the Tower of London wasn’t JUST one tower. It is a cluster, small town if you please, fortress even, of many gorgeous stone buildings. I was so overwhelmed by how many buildings there were. How was a tiny, confused, poor tourist girl like me supposed to know where to go?!
No fear! That’s where these beefeaters come in! This is Barry, one of the many ex-military servicemen who is now a Yeoman. He said that people know these guys dressed in a fancy dress-outfit as beefeaters because back in the day a king paid his guards (the Yeomen) with money and beef in exchange for the protection they gave him. The name ‘beefeater’ supposedly came from this story. I am the kind of person that goes on holiday to learn, what a bore, I know.
Barry showed us around the fortress, told of us about the legendary beheadings, prisoners and how all the waste (read: human waste) was washed out into the sea towards France but then doubled back and stunk the place up for years. I saw the gate where Anne Boleyn came through when she was accused of treason, I saw the place where her head rolled off and where her body is now. Yes, I just Tudor-ed you. LOL. I am all about the LOL.
But in all honesty as majestic as the Tower (not really Tower) was, I would not want to go the bathroom in here everyday. It does not look comfortable. I didn’t even see a toilet roll holder.
After mulling over the ifs, whats, and hows I would’ve coped with being a 16th century princess in England, I bumped into this young fella in front of the next building.
Now, I know he looks dead serious, and is giving ME a dead-on stare of “don’t even think of taking a goofy photo with me tourist” but if you were standing under the sweltering sun for hours on end knowing that the weight and security of the Crown Jewels was sitting on your lone shoulders, you’d look pretty pissed too. The poor guy was guarding this, among many others:
This is one of the many pieces in the Crown Jewels that people are allowed to gawk at with awe from behind secure bulletproof glass panels while people with guns make sure you don’t make any stupid decisions. I definitely gawked. The jewellery was amazing. I never thought shiny pieces of metal and stones could make me blink so many times. People (rich people) actually get to drip in diamonds. So jealous.
After riding the walk-a-lator few times (they do that so people don’t crowd around the jewels and that everyone has a fair chance at seeing everything, so smart) I walked through the rest of the Tower. They had a weapons and armoury exhibit that I knew my little brother would’ve loved. There was one thing I really enjoyed though, and it was this matching papa-and-mini-me suit of armour.
Too cute. How any kid could be persuaded to get into that, I will never know. But good on them for trying.
This post will end with a photo of a fake monkey sitting on one of the fortress walls, to signify and remember all the wild animals that were once kept at the Tower as an exotic animal zoo, until someone got killed and tigers escaped or something.