After visiting the museum, we had lunch on the lawn outside, during which time we were watched from the window by some weird museum-goers as we munched our sandwiches (I went with ham and cream cheese today, one of the more normal available options by my standards).
It was cool to eat practically against the remains of the original London wall, which I read a bit about in Peter Ackroyd’s London: The Biography. The wall appears and vanishes at random throughout the city, some slices in stone, some in refurbished brick; the whole thing seems pretty odd to me, but the citizens move by these crumbled ruins without so much as a passing glance.
At the risk of sounding like a Big Amurican Turist, I submit that Wall Street does, also, pay homage to its U.S equivalent: Wall Street. Just look at these dapper folks.
Lots of photogenic buildings as well.
Even the Starbucks here are amazing.
Sir Christopher Wren’s gold flame-topped Monument to the Great Fire of 1666! At 202 feet high, it’s the tallest isolated stone column in the world. Here it is, all 311 steps of it!
We climbed every one of them.
For our efforts, we were rewarded with this unbelievable view.
For the record: if you go up, don’t look down. I probably spent 600 years retaking this photo because my hands were shaking and making it blurry.
Then, back to Earth! Lots easier, but it’ll make you dizzy.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out the engravings at the base!
After the Monument, we hit the road (sidewalk, rather) and moseyed on over to the Tower. Lots of sights here. And LOTS of tourists.
Followed by… the Tower Bridge!!! (Fun fact: this is the bridge that the kiddy song “London Bridge” actually refers to.)
Storming the tower!
The Tower of London: What ominous secrets lie herein…? LENS FLARE. DUN DUN DUNNN.
And then we wait in line to see the Crown Jewels.
Sadly, photography is not permitted inside this exhibit. But I suggest visiting it. My favorite pieces were probably King Henry VIII and Queen Victoria’s crowns. I also liked the gold platters. One piece that’s no longer in use but was once enjoyed at post-coronation feasts was a huge gold punchbowl. It was insane. I could bathe in that thing.
So then we were free to split off and explore. Which I gladly did.
These dudes were just all over the place.
“Please move to the side, lady!” they told Ivy, a girl from Houston, as they approached her from behind.
“Lady?” she hissed to us. “Not even ma’am?” Personally, I was hoping for something along the lines of “duckie” or “love.”
After a visit to Bloody Tower and a look at the various torture methods employed there throughout history (nothing to photograph, really), Brandy, Ivy, and I decided to check out the Fusiliers’ Museum.
Thought this was pretty. A silver wine cooler presented by King Henry VI to Colonel Lord Frederick Fitzclarence for his Regiment’s exceptional service.
A British Army winter uniform!
King George V, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Fusiliers, in uniform. Looks like a pretty fun guy.
Here’s Brandy trying on the Fusiliers’ pack, used for operations. The one on display was on a quarter of the real thing’s weight, and it was still nearly impossible to lift for everyone who we saw tried.
There was an entire room dedicated to medals.
Major John Andre’s last words really struck a chord with me. (Also, the blurb about him involved a recalling of his service during the American War of Independence. This was interesting–the British take on the war sounded just a smudge different than the American version I’ve grown up with. Y’know, I’ll just include that for you too.)
Here’s the hall. Reverent pictures of war heroes, one and all.
And, of course, a snapshot of the costumed staff! They were very distraught by the drizzle; I think they were off to hairspray their wigs in this photo.
All around, a great day!