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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another Day in LONDON

Our second day in London started off with a bit of a late start.  Braden and I had not really slept for 3-4 days and we really welcomed the INCREDIBLY comfortable beds of the County Hall and we were allowed to sleep in by Rhonda.  After shower and breakfast we went directly to the Tower of London and waited for the tour.  The tour was so cool and it was held by a "Beef Eater" (guard of the Tower of London).  We started out in the outer wall and then moved into the second wall.  It was three levels of protected and had quite a history.  It was used as the main royal residence for hundreds of years until Queen Victoria decided to use Buckingham Palace (which she made the official royal residence) and Kensington Palace more frequently.   

From there we moved to Traitor's Gate which is where many of the Tudor's royal prisoners entered the fortress and never again left, with one exception: Queen Elizabeth I.  She came through this gate and was held prisoner by her sister, Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) because she was a protestant and the Queen was Catholic.  However, she was, after a time, let go when no evidence could be found to execute her.  When Queen Mary died, the Catholic influence in England died with her and Queen Elizabeth I reinstated the Church of England that her father (King Henry XIII) had began.

Another famous name that came through this gate was Queen Anne Boleyn.  She was not as lucky as her daughter (Queen Elizabeth I) and did not leave the castle ever again.  She was accused on trumped up charges of adultery and incest with her brother.  Her enemies had the kings ear because after almost 3 years of marriage, she had been unable to bear a son.  Rhonda was not sure how she had a child when they had been married only 2 years and we were like...."Well....ya see.....it goes like this..."  We walked past the place where she was beheaded (below) and it was really intense.  Also, in the church inside the castle walls, when it was excavated, many many bones were found and with carbon dating and all that fun science stuff they were able to identify Anne Boleyn's bones.  So, I also saw her grave.  She is kinda my favorite royal historical figure.

This is a picture of our really cool and funny tour guide!

Honestly, the cod-piece of King Henry VIII...keep dreaming.  No one believes that. 

There is a superstition about crows in the Tower of London that goes something like, if there are ever not crows around the tower, then the monarchy will fail.  So, they keep crows.  They clip their wings and feed them and they are the healthiest and largest crows in the world.  They are really huge.  Like....as big as....I don't even know...a watermelon.

So, after the Tower of London we go to lunch at a place called "The Slug and Lettuce" and it was really nice and the food was great.  From there, we were going to do the London Bridge Experience....only we encountered a slight problem...I had lost my London Pass....AHHHHH!!!!  I needed that for the Tube or I would for sure run out of money.  So, we instead retraced our steps.

Braden was clearly unhappy, he really wanted to do the London Bridge Experience, it was the one thing in London we were doing that he hadn't done yet.  He yelled at me and said that I was being selfish and that I'm a terrible person and all that kind of stuff....typical.  He always makes me feel like such a winner.

Well, it turns out that when I used my pass to get a discount on a book I was buying, I left it at the counter.  The woman working there recognized me right away and gave me my card.  I was so relieved, there was no way I would have made it the rest of the trip without this card!  So, that was really great.  Braden and Rhonda had already gotten their tickets for the Tower Bridge Experience and they were only good that day and none of us wanted to go back there, so Rhonda preceded to try and give them away...well, I think people just thought that she was crazy because they all just said no.

We looked at the time and saw that it was already almost 5 and St. Paul's Cathedral closed at 5:30 with last admittance at 5 or 5:15.  So, we dashed our asses there as fast as we could!  We got there just in the nick of time and the woman working there told us we should just wait for tomorrow because we had hardly any time left to see it, but, we had other things planned for the rest of our time, so we went anyway.  And we climbed up one of the tallest churches in the world in like 10 minutes, we practically ran.  I was so winded and sweaty and my legs were killing me, but we did it.  It was such a rush and it made the view from the top that much more glorious.

Millennium Bridge

After spending some time on the dome (way up there by the cross), we saw a little bit of the interior.  It was just beautiful, I'd rank it in the top 5 most beautiful churches I've ever seen.  Probably top 3, actually.  I would like to go back and actually take a look, but they were closing.  

We had to switch hotels, so we went back to the County Hall one last time, got the things we had packed up that morning, and went across town to the Hilton by cab.  It was a nice ride and we were originally brought to the wrong Hilton, but we got there and Jeff hadn't left a note or anything for us so we had to call him out of his meeting for him to let us in.  Braden's phone had died earlier that day, so the concierge had to call for us.  But, all was well.  We got up to our rooms and cooled off for a while, used the internet for the first time in a long time, and went down to the sports bar for some drinks.  After a while, Jeff joined us and we had a great night just talking and drinking.  I love cider.

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