Monday, November 24, 2008

Friday: The Tower of London

Boy, did we get a late start today. We didn't even have time to grab lunch. We just grabbed a croissant at a nearby shop, headed for the tubes - London Underground, and managed to find our way down to the Tower of London, which is located in The City section of London and a fair distance from our hotel.

We got there late, but we were able to quickly catch up with the last tour that had just started. The tour was led by one of the 33 Yeoman Warders, “Beefeaters” that have the privilege to call The Tower of London home. I have to say our tour guide was quite funny and we really enjoyed his presentation.

What was intriguing to both of us was, for much of it’s 900 hundred year history, the Tower of London was not a prison, but was really the residence to the kings and queens of the time. And even though it's called the Tower of London, there are several towers within the Tower of London. It's these towers that played residence to the political prisoners, those that committed treason or were a threat to the throne. This would have included Lady Jane Gray, Anne Boleyn, Thomas Moore and Sir Walter Raleigh just to name a few.

The other thing that was interesting to discover, was the fact that the accommodations for the political prisoners were quite posh for the time. They could have their families with them, even servants and could pay to furnish their imprisoned quarters. Sir Walter Raleigh was a resident in one of the towers for thirteen years. Long enough for him to write his book entitled, “The History of the World,” which looked to be over a thousand pages thick and a very fine print. I guess when you’ve got a lot of time on your hands it's easy to write a book of that magnitude.

We continued walking the grounds seeing the REAL Crown Jewels and enjoying a 900-year history of the Tower. Another interesting fact surrounded the be-headings at the Tower. It turns out that the Tower of London was not the place for public be-headings; it was a place for private be-headings. In fact, we were told that it was an honor to be beheaded in the Tower of London. I think that's one honor that I would forgo. In actuality only 10%-15% of the prisoners died or were executed after being imprisoned, most were released.

The Tower Bridge was right next door and we got a great shot of that too.

Anyway, we wanted to take in one more performance of “Imagine This,” so we jumped into the tube, better known as the Underground, and headed for Covent Garden. We found a great restaurant, Masala Zone, which was about the best Indian food, with the best presentation of the food that I had seen. The price was right, the wine was delicious, and we finished and headed for the theater.

We had one minor incident along the way - a hail storm that hit us briefly as we walked the three blocks up to the theater. Yes, it's true -- a hailstorm! The weather is getting very cold for the weekend and we’re expected to be under freezing most of Saturday maybe with some snow. The weather has been with us most of this trip with partly sunny days and fairly nice temperatures in the mid 40's. We're bundling up for our journey on Saturday.

Anyway, we had another great night of theater seeing "Imagine This” for the second time and feeling just as enthusiastic as we did when we saw the performance Wednesday evening. A few of our Cincinnati contingent were also at the play and it was nice to visit and chat with them making our goodbyes at the end of the play and all planning to get back together once we all returned home.
We decided to walk back for hotel, about a 20 minute walk, and take in the city for yet another time. I was pretty fired up and as we passed the Odeon Theatre, the largest theater in London -- 1700 seats -- I noticed that the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, was showing. I just couldn't talk LaDawn into seeing the late, late showing so, we just headed back to the hotel room relaxed and reminisced about another great day in the city.

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