So, our second day in England we woke up and scrambled to find the hotel where we'd be picked up for our all-day guided tour. First stop? The Tower of London, with a before-hours tour from a Beefeater.
|The Tower of London is a central tower, surrounded by ancient walls. It's nearly 1000 years old, and was the original palace for the King of England, William the Conqueror. Since then, it was mostly used as a prison for notorious or famous prisoners.|
|A very old wall|
|A really heavy working portcullis|
|The actual Tower of London|
|Also known as the Norman Keep, or the White Tower. Built in the late 1000's|
|Where the crown jewels are kept|
|Note the assault rifle.|
|The famous Tower Ravens|
In the actual tower is a wonderful display of armor and weaponry.
|Henry the VIII|
|He was a big guy|
|This guy? Not so much|
|A prince's armor|
|Yup. A dragon in the tower.|
|Made completely from weapons and armor.|
|Where Henry the VIII cut off some heads. Of his wives. Two of them.|
Then, you can see carvings by prisoners locked in the tower.
Then, just outside the tower, is the Tower Bridge (NOT the London Bridge.) We took a lovely river cruise along the Thames.
|The Shard, the tallest building in London|
|No idea, but it looks cool|
|The London Eye|
A cruise down the river, then off to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard!
And then on to St. Paul's cathedral!
|St. Paul's is enormous, and gorgeous. One of the only buildings to survive the Blitz. A single Nazi bomb fell on the building, through the dome, but didn't explode.|
|Kori on the steps of St. Pauls, feeding the birds and enjoying our sushi lunch.|
|Inside, everything is white and bright and wonderful. Not dark and oppressive like other cathedrals.|
|Lord Wellington's Monument|
|The famous triple dome|
Up to the first dome...
|The Whispering Gallery inside the first dome. On a quiet day, you can hear someone whispering to you from across the dome.|
Then, up the winding stairs to the second dome...
And then MORE winding stairs to the third dome, the Golden Gallery.
And then away we went for our Champagne Tea at the Windsor Plaza Hotel!
|Cool lobby of a random building.|
|OH MY GOSH. After a day full of walking and climbing, this was the HEIGHT of luxury.|
|She's so beautiful.|
After tea, we had nothing much to do, so we walked across the Westminster bridge for some evening sightseeing on our own.
|The Palace of Westminster and Elizabeth Tower|
|The House of Lords is on the left, one half of their Parliament. It is made up of appointed, not elected, lords and landholders.|
|On the right of the building is the House of Commons, made up of elected members. It makes for an interesting balance.|
|Elizabeth Tower. Inside, the largest bell is called Big Ben.|
|House of Commons|
|House of Lords|
|The outside of Westminster Abbey|
|Down the street, we find the National Gallery|
|Lord Nelson's Column. He's up at the top.|
|The lions of Trafalgar Square|
And after a stop for a pint, that was it for our first full day in England!