Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tower of London, Thames River and Westminster Abbey

We had our first full day in London to tour a few of the famous sites. We began with our first experience on the "Tube" which is the name of the subway system in London. We bought our tickets for the next 2 days which allows us to travel by bus or the Tube as many times and as many places as we want to. It is very handy. Sierra enjoyed riding the Tube instead of having to walk to places.

Our first stop was the Tower of London. We visited the Crown Jewels first. Sierra enjoyed all the sparkly jewels and purple material that is used in the royal crowns. Sierra noted that a very large golden punch bowl that was used at a coronation was large enough for her to swim in. It was very LARGE! Next, we joined a tour group headed up by a Yeoman warden also known as a Beefeater. He told lots of bad jokes and lots of interesting stories of the kings and queens who lived there or who were beheaded there. The last thing we visited was the White Tower which is in the center of all the towers. They had many displays of all the types of weapons that were used throughout the years in battle.

It was past lunchtime, so we stopped at a open air French cafe right beside the Thames with a beautiful view of London Bridge. We did have to defend our food from attackers - namely the masses of pigeons and birds which are ready to gobble up any morsel of food that is dropped on the ground. We had yummy warm sandwiches and lattes.

Next, we walked down the ramp to one of the boat cruises for the Thames. We rode it down to the Westminster Pier. We heard various facts about the bridges and buildings along the Thames. Right at the very end, we went up top to the open air part of the boat. As we docked we ended up being right at the base of Big Ben. It was a impressive sight. We took lots of pictures around Big Ben and the House of Parliament.

Our final stop was a few blocks away at Westminster Abbey. We were impressed with the architecture and art work used to build the abbey starting in 1056. We walked around the abbey to see many of the tomb sights of famous English kings, queens, poets, politicians and writers. At the end, we visited the abbey museum and cloisters. Both Tim and I commented on how we enjoyed Westminster better than Notre Dame from our trip to Paris five years ago.

We jumped back on the tube to return to the Penn club. We decided to find an Indian restaurant since many people have raved about the curries made in London. We found a quiet restaurant with great food. It wasn't busy so the waiters talked with us about America and our trip to England. They said business had been slow since Christmas was done.

It was a busy day! We will fit one more day of sightseeing in before packing our suitcases one last time and heading to Heathrow on Saturday morning.

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