United Kingdom and Ireland - Day 5

 

 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017, Where

 

On our own on the London Underground. No problem armed with an App for the transport system and Google Maps for walking survived it easily.

 

First stop was the Tower of London. Very impressive, especially when you look at the history of its construction, fire damage and reconstruction into a tourist attraction. Started by William the Conquerer in 1100 and added to during the 1200s it is a magnificent construction, most of which is still standing. Any suggestions for anyone visiting; Yes, get there early. I had heard stories of loooong queues to get in and particularly to access the Crown Jewels display however we arrived at around 10:15 and no queue for tickets, headed straight for the Crown Jewels and no queue, straight in. By the time we came out there was already queue of at least 15 - 30 minutes. Quite an impressive display. Not just many crowns and the stories attached to them where the valuable stones have been moved across newer crowns over the years but beautiful jewelled ceremonial swords and an incredible collection of gold tableware from times when Kings and Queens just had to show their wealth and gifts were given between governments.

 

Well worth the entry fee for two seniors and we spent about 4 hours wandering around but you need longer to see everything. Aside from the jewels, there are displays on the history of the construction of the tower and the separate buildings within the walls, armory displays of knight's armour, their swords and weapons used, displays of the horses in armour, later weapons such as cannon and mortars and displays of early rifles and pistols.

 

Quite enlightening to walk the battlements and look down at what used to be the moat. Much of the movement within the buildings, especially the turrets meant walking up and down narrow curling stairways.

 

We got to see the ravens, some flying around and eating in the grassed areas and others in their cages on display. The birds are allowed to fly free and are the only wild animals/birds allowed in the Tower. Way back, there were numerous wild animals, lions, baboons, polar bears, etc. kept for entertainment and in some cases sport however after too many incidences where either court people or visitors were killed of injured by the animals, all animals were handed to the London Zoo. The myth surrounding the ravens is that should the ravens ever leave the Tower, the kingdom would fall.

 

After a coffee and a scone we called on Mr Google to lead us past the Tower Bridge and through the area to St Paul's Cathedral. This is another magnificent structure when you consider the construction tools available at the time. We wandered around the inside of the building attempting to following the walking guide. Didn't guide, just described in very general terms the area you were in and then had other optional short passages on specific items. I guess it was better than nothing but I found it mostly a distraction from just looking at the architecture and decoration of the building. Took a walk down into the beautiful Crypt/Chapel where many famous people are buried beneath the floor with the "Tomb" Stones being part of the actual floor.

 

The Cathedral. Dome was once one of the best vantage points to look over London but the Eye betters that now. Not to worry, we elected to do it anyway. 257 steps up to the the Whispering Gallery around the inside of the Dome from where there is a great view of the ceiling artwork and you could also look down to the floor area. From here, it is another 119 steps up a very tight circular stairway to the first outside viewing gallery. Great view through the stone barrier columns of the walking area. Unfortunately, almost all of the gallery was inaccessible due to maintenance. Then there is the option to go up another 159 steps to the gallery right at the top of the dome. We opted out of those as we still had to do the 416 steps back down. I found it much easier going up the narrow walled, triangular steps in the steep sections than going down.

 

After calling on Mr Google to guide us back to the nearest underground station, it was back on the train for the run home.

 

  • Tower of London: Cira 1100 Tower of London: Cira 1100
  • The White Tower The White Tower
  • From the battlements From the battlements
  • Going to see the Crown Jewels, we beat the queues Going to see the Crown Jewels, we beat the queues
  • Tower Guard Tower Guard
  • A Beefeater A Beefeater
  • Knights and Horses in Armour Knights and Horses in Armour
  • Knights and Horses in Armour Knights and Horses in Armour
  • Big and small Knights in Armour Big and small Knights in Armour
  • Sculpture in the Armory: Made of pistols and various other battle items and mounted on gunpowder barrels Sculpture in the Armory: Made of pistols and various other battle items and mounted on gunpowder barrels
  • Two of the London Tower Ravens Two of the London Tower Ravens
  • London Tower - Traitor's Gate - Entrance from the Thames River London Tower - Traitor's Gate - Entrance from the Thames River
  • The former moat - now all grassed lawn The former moat - now all grassed lawn
  • The Tower Bridge The Tower Bridge
  • The Tower Bridge The Tower Bridge
  • St Paul's Cathedral St Paul's Cathedral
  • St Paul's Cathedral entry St Paul's Cathedral entry
  • St Paul's Cathedral - Inside the dome St Paul's Cathedral - Inside the dome
  • St Paul's Cathedral - Inside the dome St Paul's Cathedral - Inside the dome
  • Overlooking London from the external dome gallery Overlooking London from the external dome gallery
  • Overlooking London from the external dome gallery Overlooking London from the external dome gallery
  • Overlooking London from the external dome gallery Overlooking London from the external dome gallery
  • LOndon street view LOndon street view
     

 

 

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