Wednesday, September 30, 2015

London, Part 2 (Tower of London, British Museum)

In the morning we got up and went to breakfast in the hotel but when we found out that it wasn't included with our stay and they wanted £10 a person for a bagel, a hard boiled egg and some canned fruit we said "pass" (despite the protests of the eastern-European chick that was trying to get us to buy it) and headed across the street to Burger King. *Gasp!* I justified it to myself by reasoning that since we were visiting a country with a monarchy it was kind of like we were paying homage to the Royal family with the whole king thing and the crowns and all--that makes it more legit, right? Plus I think the total cost of breakfast for all three of us came in under the £10 they wanted to charge per person at the hotel. 

Did you know Burger King has Belgian waffles and mini pancakes on their breakfast menu in England? Those food options further validated our decision to eat at another American-ish fast food joint (they seriously need to add Belgian waffles and mini pancakes to the menu here in the states). The little pancake puffs were delicious. 

Our first stop of the day was the Tower of London. We took the Tube and got there as soon as it opened and went to see The Crown Jewels first--a good choice since the line grew quite lengthy as the day went on. The jewels were impressive but no photos were allowed (there's a little slide show of some of the jewels on the sidebar of this site). There were these slow moving sidewalks that you stood on that took you past the jewels so that there was no crowding or bottlenecking--clever!

We walked the wall stopping at the different towers (I found The Salt Tower to be particularly interesting because of the prisoners' graffiti that you can see there), visited the White Tower and the Bloody Tower, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum, took a picture with a Henry VIII look-alike, listened to a Beefeater talk about the Tower's history, watched the Royal Guards march, tried unsuccessfully to make conversation with the ravenmaster (he was awkward, mumbling an unintelligible answer as he walked away in the middle of my question) and ate a delicious lunch of  watercress soup, a salad of courgette and tomato, macaroni and cheese and a couple of fruit tarts with cream.

Queen's Guard.
We need to work on our selfies.
The Tower of London viewed from outside the walls.
Entrance to see The Crown Jewels.
Mom sat down to rest between Hitler and Mussolini. These heads were removed
by the Royal Fusiliers from statues in Germany and Italy after the allied victory in WWII.

The White Tower.
City of London seen from The Tower of London wall.
View of the Tower Bridge from The Tower of London wall.
Henry VIII's armor. It looks to me like he was trying to compensate for something.

Royal Armory displays in The White Tower.
Henry VIII. That key around his neck? For the royal bathrooms.
Yeoman Warder, a.k.a. Beefeater.
The Queen's House.
Walking through this portcullis you can see The Traitors' Gate ahead.
Traitors' Gate

We hit the Tower of London gift shop (Traders' Gate--nice pun. Well played, Tower of London) where I got a tea towel and some little knights in armor for one of my boys then we wandered around trying to find our way back to the right Tube station. There's a whole chunk of time here that is fuzzy and I don't really remember what we did besides walk around London, buy pain reliever and water for our headaches and look for hats for my brothers. Mom wanted to get a bowler for my brother Rob and a deerstalker for my brother Carter, only she kept calling it a Deerslayer, which is actually a book by James Fenimore Cooper, and not a Sherlock Holmes hat. We did find a bowler and we might have gone back to our hotel to rest for a few minutes at some point but maybe that was later too. Like I said, fuzzy. Anyway, later that afternoon we ended up at The British Museum. It was only a few blocks from our hotel and it was open later than a lot of attractions and had free admission (donation suggested).

The British Museum: Repository of Awesomeness (I think that should be the official name).

Colossal Amenhotep III.  I like the cobwebs--they lend authenticity. 
I thought the colors on this hieroglyphic panel were amazing for being thousands of years old.
Colossal Granite Fist bump. 
This hieroglyphic panel was amazingly prophetic and accurate. We're pretty sure it says,
"When we were are Watersmeet, there was a slug and Mom stepped on it."
Granite sarcophagus of someone who the Egyptians thought was important. Don't remember who.
We had about worn Mom out at the Tower of London so we asked for a wheelchair and Anne pushed Mom all through the ground floor of the museum. I offered to help but she is Wonder Woman so she did it all. We visited the Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, and Roman exhibits. We saw the Rosetta Stone even though there was a huge crowd around it because this nice young man saw that mom was in a wheelchair and made people move aside for us (insert smiley face emoji with heart eyes here). We saw all kinds of other cool stuff even though we didn't make it off the ground floor. Anne was worn out from pushing Mom; Mom was worn out from walking at the Tower of London, and I was worn out from not sleeping well for a couple of nights.

Selfie with palm leaf column of Ramesses II. We really need to work on our selfies.
Colossal statue of a winged lion.
Bust of a Greek boxer--you can tell by his cauliflower ear, crooked nose and swollen brow.
This panel from the south frieze of the Parthenon is thought to have inspired Keats to write
 "that heifer lowing at the skies" in his poem, Ode on a Grecian Urn.
Ancient Greek Collection--British Museum Exhibition Hall.
A metope from the Parthenon depicting a centaur about to hurl a water jug at a Lapith.
Elgin Marble Collection the east pediment of the Parthenon.
Kouros. I was pretty excited to see a couple of authentic Kouroi after reading about
The Getty Kouros in Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink, earlier this year.
So, in summary, The British Museum was amazing, astonishing, awe-inspiring and all-around awesome (as is my alliteration) and it made us hungry. We started back towards our hotel looking for food along the way and found a sandwich shop/Internet-cafe place. We had hot sandwiches--a Genovese (prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, tomato. . .), a bacon and brie panini, and a BLT wedge; we split a lemon tart for dessert.

The British Library was also near our hotel and a guard at the British Museum told us there was a special Magna Carta exhibit for the 800th anniversary there. We got there are they weren't going to let us in but we were charming and convinced them to sell us some tickets. They even gave us a discount since it was close to closing time. The English people are so accommodating. Love them!

We got to see two of the original four copies of the Magna Carta and some other treasures that were on display: Thomas Jefferson's handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence, Rhode Island's original copy of the US Bill of Rights, Rudyard Kipling's handwritten copy of his poem "What Say the Reeds at Runnymede"--with scribbled out places where he made changes, paintings and lots of other cool artifacts--even King John's teeth.

We didn't have time to look at anything else in the library, so we planned to return in the morning to see what else we could see.

To Be Continued. . .

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