October 12, 2011

October 12, 2011

London, Day 2: Beefeaters, Cockneys, and Saints

(Day 1 can be found here.)

Day 2: Monday, October 3

Our day started at the Tower of London. I was expecting a single Tower, with a winding circular staircase, at the very top of which were the Crown Jewels. Somewhere partway up, a small plaque would mark the burial place of the two princes who’d been done away with while being held there.

It turns out that the Tower of London is a complex of several buildings, and it’s huge. It is also famously guarded by the Beefeaters. Here’s ours:

After walking us around the complex and discussing some of the more notable gates and whatnot, he left us to examine the Crown Jewels (no pictures allowed), look at the Museum (we walked the walls instead), and generally while away the rest of our time there. We chose to get lunch at a traditional British place.

Our group’s next stop was Westminster Abbey. We got there via narrated Thames boat cruise. I took a ton of pictures of buildings along the way, but I don’t remember now what most of them were. I will say that I learned the Thames is a tidal river, and it rises and falls quite a bit during the day. People beachcomb there, though I can’t say I was tempted.

Westminster Abbey was impressive. Many famous people are buried or commemorated there. Royalty, politicians, artists, and so on. It was terribly crowded, though our “group” status allowed us to bypass the lines. Gillian did the best she could to show us the highlights, but this is not a building that was meant to service large groups of tourists. It’s a lot smaller in real life than it looked during the Royal Wedding—must be the wide-angle TV cameras—but seeing things like poet’s corner was pretty darn cool.

Our group dined together that evening on fish and chips. It wasn’t as traditional as I’d been led to believe—traditional fish and chips is served in newspaper, is it not?—but I was pleased to get a piece of cod the size of my forearm. Also: spotted dick, much better than the version in a can.

While the rest of the group headed back to the hotel, we went to nearby Baker Street to find 221B. I’m told it does exist, though all I could find was 219 next to 231. (Wikipedia tells me 221B is commemorated between 237 and 241. That’s just silly.)

Tomorrow: Churchill, Van Eyck, and attempt 1 at Harrod’s.

1 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke:

This is great! I'm loving your London posts. I was randomly just at the Tower last night for a book launch for Nigel Jones new book ('Tower', about the Tower's history) and it was so gorgeous and vast it took my breath away. I didn't want to leave!