I'm finally getting back on track with posting my Europe trip. Day 5 was really exciting for me because we got to see the Tower of London. Gene was still feeling poorly so it was just me, Pat and Chuck. We started off the day by hooking up with an old friend of mine, Marit. I haven't seen her since the 80's! Marit's originally from Holland but now lives in Kent with her husband and kids. We met at Victoria Station and went to lunch at a noodle place that she likes, then we strolled over to Buckingham Palace just in time to watch the changing of the guard. What a sight to see! The flag was flying over the palace, which means that the queen was in residence that day. I'm not sure what all the pomp and circumstance was about but it was pretty cool. There was a parade with some gorgeous horses, a couple of antique carriages and a lot of uniformed guards. I think it was more than just "changing the guards," but what do I know? I'm glad we were there in November, because there were relatively few tourists. We got to see things pretty well. Marit told me that she brought her family there in July and the closest they could get was about 100 yards away. Anyway, it was all pretty amazing.
After saying goodbye to Marit we found our way to the Tower of London. I didn't know much about it other than that the crown jewels are kept there, so I had no idea what to expect. It was SO COOL. The Tower was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, which makes it almost 1,000 years old. Wow. Subsequent rulers added on to it, and the tower's official use actually lasted until about the 1950's. Of course now it's a historic monument and world heritage site. (You can read more about the Tower of London here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_london) What got me was that it was real, not fake. I don't know how else to explain it. I kept having to remind myself that I wasn't at Disneyland or something. It's the real deal and it's mind-boggling!
The crown jewels were spectacular but pictures aren't allowed. Too bad, because they were breathtaking! I did take lots of pictures of everything else though. What really creeps me out about the Tower is that the Yeomen Warders ("beefeaters") are actually quartered there. You couldn't get me to live there under any circumstances! Think of all the torture and beheadings that took place there over the centuries. The place is surely haunted from dungeon to rafters.
After the Tower we went for a curry. That was a big one on my list of things to do in London. I wanted the total London experience! The food was great and we barely made it back to London Bridge Station in time to grab the last train of the night to Edenbridge. We sort of dozed off on the train and almost missed our stop! It was hilarious -- suddenly I sat bolt upright and said, "Is this our stop?!?" We all panicked and scrambled to jump off the train as the doors were closing. Sadly, in our hurry to get off the train Chuck left behind a bag of souvenirs that he had bought at Buckingham Palace and the Tower. Too bad! Oh well, it was a great day anyway.
I know I've gotten away from posting these Europe pics in order, so if you want to see the previous posts here they are:
Day 1: http://click-photography.blogspot.com/2007/01/europe-day-1.html
Day 2: http://click-photography.blogspot.com/2007/01/europe-day-2.html
Day 3: http://click-photography.blogspot.com/2007/01/europe-day-3.html
Day 4: http://click-photography.blogspot.com/2007/02/europe-day-4.html
The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I guess these are their winter uniforms.
And here are some pictures from Day 5...
Chuck took this one too.
I couldn't see through them so I took a picture of them instead.
The ornate gates at Buckingham Palace. It's hard to believe that basically this is someone's house.
My friend Marit. I hadn't seen her in about 20 years!
The Tower of London. The grassy area surrounding it was once the moat. How cool is that?!?
A cross-shaped slit in the castle wall for shooting arrows out of
"God save the Queen! She ain't no human being!"
Chuck standing in front of Henry VIII's armor. The codpiece cracked me up! Gotta protect the family jewels I guess. (Click on the picture for a closer look.)
The Lion of Saint Mark
These guys are called Yeomen Warders or beefeaters, and they are the traditional guards of the castle. There are 35 of them plus a Chief Warder. They actually live in the Tower -- yikes! Think of the ghosts there!
This is one of my favorite images from the entire trip.
The original structure built by William the Conqueror. It's called the White Tower.
The Tower of London by night
To read about Day 4 click here