Home > Vacation > London – Day 4

London – Day 4

December 13, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

We’ve come to day 4, the last of my London series, although it’s more correct to call it England. This is likely my last post for some time.

Moat of the Tower of London

Moat of the Tower of London

Against my better judgement, I started off the day at the Tower of London. It is a direct tube ride from Victoria to Tower Hill. The Tower didn’t sound very interesting to me, since it is known mostly (to me, at least) as a prison. After exiting the tube, and approaching the tower from the north, the ticket area is on your left. I really wish I had purchased tickets in advance. There are several ticket lines but they move like molasses. I decided to go for the Yeomen tour, since it’s highly recommended. I waited around in the former moat until the next Warder showed up. It is about an hour tour. Our guide was entertaining, but much of the subject matter is a bit on the gruesome side and not very interesting to me. I would have been better off with a self-guided audio tour, which is hopefully a bit cleaner.

Our illustrious Yeomen Warder (beefeater)

Our illustrious Yeomen Warder (Beefeater)

The line to see the crown jewels was extremely long and there was no way I was going to wait for that. And this was just the outside. Who knows how long on the inside?! Instead I opted for the White Tower, since the line was pretty short. Not as smart as it sounds. Once you’re inside, it’s mostly a single-line shuffle up and down and around the floors. Almost all the displays are from the Royal Armories; suits of armor, shields, weapons, etc. This is more interesting to me, but it’s extremely difficult to stop and read or do anything short of taking a quick photo. Speaking of which, it is very dark. I frequently shot wide open at f/2.8 and ISO 3200 (at least). While they may not be the most exciting photos, I put them all in the gallery. After all, if I had to walk through it, you have to look at the photos :)

The White Tower

The White Tower

When you’ve looped back to the bottom of the Tower, you’ll be in the Mortar Room, where the artillery is displayed, which is pretty cool. What I did not know, was that in 1974, a bomb was detonated here, leaving one dead and 41 injured.

Mortar Room

Mortar Room

By now it was almost 2pm, so I got a sandwich at a stand and ate on the wharf while admiring Tower Bridge.

Lunch at Tower Bridge

Lunch at Tower Bridge

It was rather late to be walking all the way back to the hotel, so I cheated and took a boat! There’s several ways to travel the Thames. I opted for the slower boat which gives time to look around at the sites. There is also someone who points out the sights. I’m not good at numbers, but I would guess there were at least 200 people on the outside, upper deck. I don’t know how many inside. There are seats, but I got up and moved around towards the end.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

I purchased a ticket at the kiosk with debit card (!) and proceeded to wait for the boat. It took awhile and I was one of the last, if not the very last, people onboard. This worked out really well, with the trip back to Westminster taking 30-35 minutes. Definitely one of the best things I’ve done and now I can say sailed on the River Thames. Only downside was missing St Paul’s Cathedral.

River Thames - Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges

River Thames – Hungerford Bridge and Golden Jubilee Bridges

We passed by the London Eye, but I did not ride it. I did not like it when it was built and I still think it’s something of an eyesore. Plus I kept seeing it, no matter where I was in London. But it makes for more interesting photos.

London Eye and London Aquarium

London Eye and London Aquarium

Upon disembarking, I headed for the Westminster tube, looking for the restrooms. By now I knew to have spare change on hand since you have to pay to get in. Not sure if I mentioned this before. Coming from America, this is quite the shocker. I experienced this only once in Scotland. Anyway, Big Ben is right there. I did not realize just how big it was! Nor did I know it’s actually part of the Houses of Parliament.

Big Ben

Big Ben

There didn’t seem to be any way in, so I walked around for a while trying to take photos. Which is surprisingly difficult because the building is so huge. This made me really wish I had rented a super wide tilt-shift lens which is made just for these sorts of situations.

Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament

Across the street is Westminster Abbey. Being nearly 4pm, it was of course, closed. Good grief.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

So I walked up Whitehall street to Charing Cross, where Trafalgar Square is. On the way I passed Downing Street. Good luck getting in there.

Downing Street

Downing Street

On the way, I stopped to look at impressive building. People were going in, so I followed. The building is called Horse Guards and is the headquarters of the Household Cavalry. I didn’t actually go in the building, but passed through an arch, which opens up to a huge courtyard. I walked around here for a while and took a few photos. It’s funny that I went to the Royal Mews and Horse Guards and did not see a single horse. I’m not sure if I saw a horse during the entire trip…

Horse Guards

Horse Guards

A little ways up is Nelson’s Column at the entrance to Trafalgar Square. I had heard of Trafalgar, but never seen it, so I was quite surprised. I had expected something like St Mark’s Square in Venice and I certainly didn’t expect so many people. The square is home to the National Gallery, but I am not an art fan, to put it mildly. There are also several street performers. It’s quite a spectacle.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

There was another building I did not know what it was:

St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields

This is St Martin-in-the-Fields, a church. The name is familiar to me because of Academy of St Martin in the Fields, whose music is often played on KMFA, our awesome full-time classical music station. The Academy performs here on occasion. If I had known this, I would’ve visited (turns out it was even open!). After that, I walked back to the hotel. I had dinner down the road at The Marquis Of Westminster. It’s an interesting little place with a bar downstairs and a restaurant upstairs. I went upstairs for the fish and chips, which was forgettable. Ullapool is still my #1 for fish and chips. Walking around the streets after a workday is concluded is far different from here. Loads of people just standing outside on the street drinking a pint and having a good time. Not something you see here.

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

That’s it! The trip home was uneventful. A very short vacation, but I’m glad I went and had a jolly good time of it! Lots of photos for this day in the gallery.

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