Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chapter 2:Orf Wif Der 'Eads!

Before I get to the day's activities, I have to make an amendment to an observation from last night. With my sleep cycles still off, I stayed up and watched a LOT of television. I have to retract at least some of my previous observations about the state of British TV. While there is still an episode of Friends on all ... the ... time ... there are also shows like Celebrity Naked Ambition. If you're wondering what it's about, you don't have to wonder too hard. Let's just say it's not a show you'd see in the USA.

We got up this morning, had the English version of a continental breakfast (juice, toast, and cereal -- and let me tell you, the English don't believe in skim milk) and made our plans to see the Tower of London. With the Underground station being out, and us not yet being comfortable with the bus routes, we decided to walk to the nearest Underground terminal.

And walk. And walk. And walk. Cardio exercise for the day (the week?) accomplished.

Once we got there (and walked some more, including some amazingly-steep stairs) we were on our way to the Tower. We got in, and were smart enough to get the tickets from a shop ahead of time to avoid the line (sorry, the queue) and get right in.

We went along on a guided tour with Steve, the Yeoman Warden, who was quite the showman. Steve showed us where the queens and other prisoners were beheaded, where they came in to the tower to be beheaded, where they walked to be beheaded, where their heads were put on the end of pikes after they were beheaded, and where the bodies were buried after they were beheaded.

Sensing a theme here?

After the tour, we walked around the grounds for a little while, including walking through the White Tower, the center of the grounds and where the center of the government (and, for quite a while, the center of the Western World) was seated. Being American, you really don't get a feel for history any place you go. When you stand in a room that was built in the fifteenth century, and in front of a wall that was constructed in the tenth century, you realize how hard it is to have a historical perspective. Churches and other buildings in Nebraska that were built in the nineteenth century have Federal protection as historic landmarks in the US. In Europe, they're considered "the new wing."

We stopped for scones and jelly babies at the Tower's cafe, checked out the Tower Bridge, then headed back for the Underground. We went to Harrod's, an amazing cathedral of consumerism. Harrod's is what Von Maur wants to be when it grows up. We briefly went through the four stories of stores, marveling at the goods (and the prices -- there was a small round end-table that went for over 1,200 pounds. I was afraid to look at it). We also saw the Egyptian-themed escalator leading to the basement with the memorial for Princess Diana.

We took the bus from Harrod's back to Bayswater, and (hopefully not jinxing myself) I think we've got the bus/Underground transit system somewhat under control. I was asked twice -- including once by a lady in a British accent -- for help in navigating the system. I'll work on keeping my head from getting too swollen.

We went back to the Bayswater Arms for chips and fizzy pop (I tried calling it soda and got a blank, "oh, great, another bloody Yank" look from the barmaid), shopped a little, then came back to the hotel. We may grab some dinner at one of the local restaurants, or just call it a night.

Tomorrow, the London Eye. Hopefully the sun and the Underground construction will cooperate.

More photos added to the online album, which can be found here.

1 comment:

Joe Runge said...

Beheading is so last empire; show them how the empire that made the nuclear weapons rocks the fear and intimidation.

Stay safe and have a good time!