After a good night’s sleep, we were ready to conquer London once more. This time, we were starting at the heart of some of the bloodiest (and most interesting) history of the city: the Tower of London.
We got to the Tower grounds before the gates opened, so we were some of the first to enter the area. K had done her research and knew we needed to head for the Crown Jewels first, as the lines would get ridiculously long later in the day. Great success! We saw so many precious gems our heads were spinning, and all of us were amazed to think of the royal heads the various crowns had sat upon. (No pictures of the royal regalia, sadly, but you have to see the world’s largest cut diamond to believe it anyway, so we suggest you go to London.)
After viewing the Jewels, we joined a Beefeater tour that was just beginning. “Beefeater” is a term which refers to the Yeomen Warders who guard the Tower and have done so since the time of the Tudors. They are still considered to be “on guard” - they safeguard the Crown Jewels, live on the Tower grounds, and also care for the Tower ravens. In their spare time, they give tours. Awesome, hilarious, gruesome tours.
The Beefeaters make sure to dwell on the bloodiest, most shocking stories of British history - the story of Henry VIII and his wives, especially Anne Boleyn; the story of the two young princes who were murdered by their uncle in his quest for the throne, and whose bodies were eventually discovered walled up in a stairwell in the Tower; and of course multiple stories of torture taking place in the dungeons. It’s a great tour! Highly recommended if you ever visit London and the Tower. After the tour, we wandered the grounds some more, visiting the Beauchamp Tower (famous for the carvings in its walls from prisoners throughout the centuries), the execution site within the Tower grounds (where there is now a memorial to the executed), and the White Tower museum (which boasts displays of Henry XIII’s armor as well as the actual execution block, ax, and executioner’s mask).
My my, look at that codpiece!
We had a brief moment of terror when K realized she had put her (nice, expensive) camera down and forgotten to pick it back up. Frantically, we raced around trying to find it. Finally, K asked one of the Beefeaters where to find lost and found items, and just at that moment, he got a message on his walkie talkie that a camera had been found and turned in. Crisis averted! Thank goodness for the Beefeaters. (And the kindness of strangers.)
We had spent several hours at the Tower by the time we were leaving, so after enjoying the view of Tower Bridge we headed to the Dickens Inn for some fish and chips and beer.
After a late, leisurely meal, we headed to the famed British Museum. With not much time left before it closed, we prioritized and headed for Egypt. We saw the Rosetta Stone (SO COOL), amazing Egyptian statues and art, and of course, the mummies.
Sadly, after an amazing day of touring, M & K (K especially) were amazingly exhausted. So, we all headed back to the hotel, where M & K ended up crashing for the rest of the night, while K’s dad and his wife went to Covent Garden for dinner and K’s brothers went out to a couple of pubs. M & K were disappointed to miss out - but the rest was sorely needed and definitely helped them to get in the groove for the rest of the trip!