London

Our clear, sunny day in London began with a boat tour up the Thames, beginning at the London Eye and sailing just past the Millennium Bridge. The Millennium Bridge is one of eight bridges over the Thames, and certainly the most modern. Shortly after it opened it became infamous for wobbling as pedestrians crossed, and had to be modified as a result. London’s most iconic bridge is Tower Bridge; despite its medieval appearance, it was only opened in 1894 designed to blend with the style of the 700 year older Tower of London looming behind it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After strolling past Westminster Abbey (at the time preparing for the royal wedding) and the Houses of Parliament, Jen was lucky enough to have her fascination in both historical penitentiaries and large sparkling jewels satisfied in one spot, the Tower of London. We were led through the Tower’s grisly history by a gruff but charming Beefeater, or Yeoman Warder. Beefeaters have guarded the Tower since 1485.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was inside the Tower of London that Henry VIII executed two of his less fortunate wives, and the ravens still lurking around the Tower Green served as a grim reminder of the Tower’s dark history. The Traitors’ Gate, the entrance for prisoners guilty of treason and destined for execution, still stands, as does some rather intricate graffiti left by these prisoners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tower also houses the Crown Jewels, including some of the largest diamonds in the world. The Great Star of Africa (530 carats) can be found in Charles II’s Sceptre with the Cross, the Lesser Star of Africa in the Imperial State Crown and the Koh-i-Noor, in the Crown of the Queen Mother.

In addition to the Crown Jewels, the Tower also has several museums, including one documenting the history of the Royal Fusiliers and an impressive collection of medieval weaponry, where we learned about early psychological warfare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our long day of sight-seeing, we met up with our friends (and gracious hosts) Gareth and Sarah, for drinks at a pleasant little wine cave, followed by dinner at the poorly spelled Mexican restaurant, Wahaca.

 

Here are a few more pictures.

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