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Published: November 12th 2013
From across the Thames
We woke up this morning to fog and drizzle - but that didn't stop our adventures. We had a busy day planned, with lots of places to go and things to see. Our first stop this morning was St Paul's Cathedral. St Paul's is the head church in the Diocese of London for the Church of England - probably most well known in recent history for being the site of Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding. It had a very impressive presence, but I was a little disappointed that we were not allowed to take pictures inside.
Our next stop after St Paul's was the Tower of London. It was very cool walking toward the tower, seeing the Thames and the Tower Bridge in the background. The Tower was not what I expected. It was a blend of castle, prison, housing, and museum and the buildings were all over the place. We spent about 3 hours exploring the grounds, and some of the highlights included the crown jewels, the scaffold site where Anne Boleyn and others were executed, and the Beef Eaters. Visiting the Crown Jewels was a bit funny because they rush you through so quickly that you are
So right before this picture - a pigeon almost flew into my face.
legitimately on a moving walkway to go past a majority of the jewels. The Tower was another place where photography wasn't allowed in any of the more interesting places - again, disappointing.
From the Tower of London, we headed southwest toward the London Eye for our river cruise/London Eye experience. The Thames cruise may have been one of the highlights of the day - loved the guide and the way he was pointing out the sites we would have missed if we explored the city solely on our own. Very neat to learn about all of the bridges along the Thames, and the stories associated with them. As an aside, the London Bridge is not what one would expect - especially after seeing the Tower Bridge. The latest version of London Bridge is a fairly simple concrete and steel bridge, built in the mid-70s. For some reason, I had it in my head that it would be something grand like the Tower Bridge.
After the boat cruise, we went on the London Eye. Although the Eye looks like a ferris wheel - it is apparently not for three reasons 1. the capsule are enclosed, 2. the capsules are
The London Eye
Notice we both look a little scared from the height
positioned on the outside of the wheel, and 3. it is supported by an A-frame from one side only. At the top point, you have a great 360 view around the capsule. I am a bit afraid of heights, so at the top I opted to sit on the bench in the middle of the capsule trying not to feel queasy (note: I'm posting a picture of Sam and I from the way down on the capsule - notice the look on both of our faces!).
If the Cathedral, Tower, and Eye weren't exhausting enough - we had dinner reservations and theatre tickets to cap off the night! We had dinner in Leicester Square at a restaurant that served (upscale) traditional British food. Leicester Square is a cute area and it was super busy tonight. Sam and I think there was something going on to promote the new Hunger Games movie because there was a crazy crowd and Josh Hutcherson (ie, Peeta Melark) was there speaking.
After dinner, we traveled to Her Majesty's Theatre for Phantom of the Opera! Phantom is one of my favorite musicals of all time, so I was ridiculously excited (in a small kid
at Christmas) kind of way to see it in the West End. So, let's start with the Theatre itself....a wise woman warned me that it was tight quarters, and she wasn't lying! Squished seating aside, the Theatre was pretty intimate with excellent people watching. As for Phantom - amazing! There were some different twists in this version that I haven't seen in the touring companies that come through Chicago . Also an angrier Phantom than I've encountered previously.
Now we are finally home and getting ready for bed. Today's walking mileage was about 10 and a half miles, but more impressively my Fitbit said we climbed 67 flights of stairs - ouch! One more random observation: the Tube is fascinating. Always crazy busy no matter what time of day, and everyone moving so quickly. Publishing 14 pictures from today - if you don't see them all, please click on one and it should take you to a gallery.
Tomorrow's agenda: Westminster Abbey, tea at Fortnum and Mason, and souvenir shopping!
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