Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 3 begins with breakfast..

well, so did all the other days, but this day I took a picture. This is not my typical breakfast fare. I rarely have salami with my breakfast or any meat at all unless it's bacon. These lovely rounds of butter were so yummy on the croissants. The buttery looking stuff on the right is some type of chesse. I don't know what kind but it was delicious!

Now, after such a hearty breakfast we set off for a busy day. First stop...The Tower of London. I learned so much on our trip. First, this isn't a tower at all, but a fortress. It is an old castle compound where thousands have lived, worked and ruled.

We were shown around by a charming man...ha ha not really, he was pretty grouchy and this is the only time he was smiling here was because he had just yelled at a school group to "BE QUIET". "I really don't like children" he said several times during our tour. He is a soldier that was chosen to be a tower guard, of which one is required to have over 20 years of service to be qualified to apply. He educated those of us who were not aware that the guard we see, himself included, are true soldiers, who have fought and protected their country and others, and were deserving of our respect.
It was a new perspective seeing as how the Beefeaters (as he is called) and the Grenadine Guard (like you see in the Buckingham Palace photos) are typically seen as tourist attractions and something to be teased and tempted to move. If you look closely at this picture and those I'll post later showing Buckingham Palace, you'll see those guns they have are not props, they are real guns with live ammunition. This young man shown here had just returned from Afghanistan and was likely to return in a few months.

The Tower is where the crown jewels are kept, although, again, it isn't a tower as you would expect. It is a large building within the walls of grounds.
This major building in the center is The White Tower where kings have ruled. Richard I to Henry VIII and lots in between.

After the tower we went to see Westminster Abbey. This has to be one of the largest buildings I have EVER seen. I am still in awe of how they could have built this building hundreds of years ago without modern machinery. Unbelieveable. Also, did you know, in addition to it being a church, it is also a large crypt. There are hundreds of people, very important people, buried or in vaults in this building. Very surprising. Gorgous sculptures adorn most of the large graves and there are many laid in the floor whose markings have been worn to nothing. The building itself is amazing inside and out.

Next door to Westminster Abbey is the Parliament Building. This is huge as well! We weren't allowed to go in and it was blocked off by huge baricades and armed guards. But this is the building where Big Ben or The Clock Tower is attached. Very lovely.

And King Richard I now adorns a parking lot.

One of the treats we had in England were the uses/changes in words we hear every day. Here is where we would park our "strollers".

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