Wednesday, January 23, 2013

London Calling

So I actually started writing more about our London trip but clearly never finished. I can't believe that was over 6 months ago.

Here is that post that has been waiting to be finished...

With the start of the Olympics I am once again wishing I was back in London.

I completely adored the city and we had a great visit way back in May. It really does seem like forever ago!

I covered our first day of the trip but didn't get much further in the blog, day 2 was even better than day 1. It was Monday morning and first order of business was visiting Tower of London before it was too crowded. We arrived about an hour after it opened and the lines weren't too bad. I think we just happened to be in London at a really good time. The weather was fantastic and it wasn't crowded yet. If we had been there for the actual Jubilee celebration it would have been a completely different visit as June was the rainiest June on record in London.

The Tower of London is a group of buildings, not just one tower as it is named and it is really impressive. (As a side note I have been reading about the Tudors, specifically King Henry VIII, and wow - a lot of bad stuff happened here!)

It's the Tower Bridge in the background. Look at all of the sunshine - just think the next week it was pouring rain. Our timing was perfect.

The Gherkin Building in the background - a perfect mix of old  and new architecture in London.

The Crown Jewels are incredible. They have them in big cases with short moving sidewalks on either side. You can go back and ride the sidewalk as often as you wish, but you have to keep moving as you are viewing the collection.

Yes, we saw him move! But I'm pretty sure he never smiled.

There are seven ravens that live at the Tower. They are believed to protect the Crown and the Tower and there is a superstition this if the ravens fly away the Crown will fall and Britain with it. While I did get a photo of a Tower raven, I did not get a picture of the fox!

 (Did I tell you about the fox already - either way, I'm writing about it now.) We were sitting on a bench on the grounds of the Tower and all of a sudden a fox jumped a hedge and went running down a crowded path. I thought it was part of a show, similar to the people that were walking around in period dress - I was incorrect. A little bit later we walked in to a dark guard tower on the ground floor of the wall that surrounds the Tower. The room had an earthen floor and only natural light from small windows. It was dark and cool and quiet. As I was looking around the circular room I noticed a pair of eyes looking at us from one of the window alcoves - it was the fox! I didn't want to scare him so we very quietly left the room - no photos. As we were leaving another couple was entering, we told them to be careful and pointed out the fox. They stayed in there and in no time the fox came running out of the room and ducked in to another hiding spot. Apparently there are wild foxes that run about the city. We actually saw one more very close to our hotel on a different night (unless the same one was following us....)

The Tower Bridge - no Olympic rings yet (or David Beckham in a boat).

The Mall (pictured below) was decorated for the Diamond Jubilee - flags from the Admiralty Arch (pictured above) all the way down to Buckingham Palace.

Fortnum and Mason (pictured below) is fancy pants department store that has been in business since 1707. Their collection of tea cups and tea strainers and tea was staggering. The building was decorated in honor of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and they had lots of products that matched inside - for your own celebration. I managed to resist their wares - it wasn't easy!

On our second day in London we walked and walked and walked. It is an easy walking town and the weather was great but by the end of the trip my feet were tired!