Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tower of London, Greenwich, and Chinatown

On Friday, December 23rd we started with a trip to the Tower of London via a red double decker bus. We wanted to take the tour with a Yeoman Warder (aka Beefeater), the bodyguards of the Tower, which was included in our ticket. While we waited we bought some of the best apple juice ever at a coffee shop called Apostrophe. It taste more like cider and it was heated and I wish I had some right now....

We also walked around the Tower for a little bit.  Let me share some of what we saw.

Moat Animals
Lions (just so we are clear, those are not real) that protected the moat and drawbridge.
Only Shoots Pictures Now
Arrows are no longer shot out this slit, just video.
Open Gate
Castle Gate
The Tower had been a zoo at one time in the past.  They had animal statues all over the place.
Bear Face
I think they were made of chicken wire.  They were pretty amazing.
There were lions, bears, monkeys and even an elephant.
Guard Frankie
Frankie was trying out for position of guard.
Guard Jennifer
I tried, but I don't think I am intimidating enough.
 It was time for our tour with the Yeoman Warder.  It wasn't one of the ones in the picture below, but he was dressed the same.  The tour lasted about 30 minutes and gave the history of the Tower.

Yeoman Warders

We got the see the ravens that live at the Tower. It is said, “If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.”  Because of this prophecy from 1675 by Charles II, the ravens of today's Tower have their wings clipped so they can never fly away.  There is an interesting article about the ravens with more detail.  You can read it here.


Before going in the see the Crown Jewels we had to pass by the marching guard.  I know it is suppose to be an honor to be a royal guard, but I just felt so sorry for that guy.  He couldn't have been very old, plus I have NO idea how he could even see!


Guard at Crown Jewels
The blind march!
There is so much to see at the Tower of London.  I will just post some pictures with captions of a few more things before I continue on with our day.
Captured Adolf Hitler
The bust of Adolf Hitler captured by the Royal Fusilier.

Captured Mussolini
The bust of Benito Mussolini captured by the Royal Fusilier.
Armor....all I am going to say is, THAT had to be a intimidation factor.

Horse Head Armor
Must protect the horsies!
Largest Suit of Armor
Tallest Suit of Armor with Guinness Certificate
What the Solider Sees
If you had a armor helmet on, this would be all you could see.
Pence Form Shield
All the pence coins when put together form a shield.  How cool is that?!?
When we were done with the Tower of London we took a boat to Greenwich.  It is a beautiful town, very picturesque!

Discover Greenwich

Went to the Greenwich market, had a light lunch and looked around before heading to the Prime Meridian, which was our main reason for going to there.

Italian Cheese
I had tears of joy.  Two of my favorite things in the world combined in one spot.  *Happy sigh*
 My lunch consisted of a rice ball stuffed with Bolognese which was some meat in tomato sauce. Frankie had egg rolls and sweet and sour chicken.

Rice Stuffed with Bolognese3
Bolognese Rice Ball

The food was decent but in order to sit down we had to buy some waters and olives at a place with a little sitting area.  After eating we walked around the market and we came across a woman who makes cards and tiles in the fashion of Dia Del Muerto.  I found it funny that we go all the way to London and see things from Mexico.  At home we are only 2 hours from Mexico!  I bought one of her cards and we talked to the artist some. She said she was saving her money to go to Mexico next year. Very cool!

No Ice Cream Sales
Most random sign we saw in Greenwich!

We walked up this HUGE (and I do mean HUGE) hill to the Royal Observatory where the time of the world is determined and where the Prime Meridian has been named.

Official World Clock

Prime Meridian
0 degrees longitude, where west meets east.
We had to pay 7 pounds ($11) each to see it. I didn't know that or we probably wouldn't have walked up that hill!  It was something I had wanted to see and Frankie still isn't completely sure what it is.

Straddling the Prime Meridian
Straddling the Prime Meridian
Walked back down the hill, more like quickly walked because the hill was very steep to go back towards the boat. Before leaving though, Frankie wanted to have an English beer in an English pub so we went to the Greenwich Tavern and he got the local ale. I smelled it, said no thank you and instead ordered a cappuccino. He didn't care for it either although he liked the smell. 

Gastro Pub
Greenwich Tavern - Loved their advice/warning.
It started to rain and we got a little wet because we didn't take umbrellas out with us. Should have known better, England doesn't have a reputation of it raining all the time for nothing!  We took the boat back towards London center and got off to go to St. Martins-in-the-Field to eat in the Crypt Cafe. St. Martins' was very good and not as expensive as other places plus we got a huge helping of a Christmas type meal: turkey, cranberries, carrots and parsnips, purple cabbage, and potatoes.

Turkey Gravy Cranberries Purple Cabbage Potatoes Parsnips Carrots Bacon Wrapped Sausage

Parsnips and purple cabbage were new for both of us. I liked them both. Frankie said the parsnips had too strong of a flavor and he couldn't get past the color of the cabbage....and he calls me picky! We wanted to get there in time to have afternoon tea, but was too late.  We never did get to participate in afternoon tea.

Ceiling of Crypt
The ceiling of the crypt.

Tombstone from Crypt
A grave markers that was on display at St. Martin in the Fields Crypt.
Tombstone from Crypt4
Another grave marker.
 We ate, looked around and then walked across the street to Trafalgar Square.  Took a few pictures...

Trafalgar Square at Night

...and then continued on our way to Chinatown.  Before actually getting to Chinatown we came across this place called Seven Dials.  It is this large shopping area. We didn't do any shopping but I must say, that it was such a  pretty area!  The picture really doesn't do it justice.

Seven Dials
Pagoda Gate
Made it to Chinatown!

We tried to go into a Chinese grocery store but it was so crowded that we couldn't really look around. So we continued our stroll through the area.
Chinatown Lanterns

Chinese Animal on Wall
Decided it was time to go back to the hotel.  Once there, to help unwind we turned on the TV. Every time we flipped through the channels we could always find a dart tournament...you would think soccer, but that wasn't every time....darts were on EVERY TIME we turned on the TV.  The British must love their darts!

The next day was Christmas Eve.  We knew there were not going to be many sights open so we saved the ones that were open for this day.  So stay tuned for our trip to the Sherlock Holmes Museum and Abbey Road Studios, to name a few of the few!

P.S. Hopefully, I will get these last two posts out much quicker than I have been doing!  Shame on me and my slow blogging!