A couple of weeks ago, we headed to Central London without much of an agenda, other than it was a beautiful Sunday, mid 70s, and sunny. Once downtown near the Houses of Parliament, we jumped on the next canal boat on the River Thames, and took a leisurely ride east towards Tower Bridge, disembarking once at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre for a snack and cold drink.
Tower Bridge is sometimes mistaken for London Bridge. Legend has it that in 1968, Robert McCulloch thought he was buying Tower Bridge but actually bought London Bridge, a much less impressive structure located just upstream. The old London Bridge which he bought now sits in Arizona in Lake Havasu City. The new London Bridge sits one bridge away from Tower Bridge on the Thames.
Unfortunately, the Tower Bridge elevator was closed due to renovation, so Ella and I decided to pass on the approximately 200 or so stairs and wait until it opens again in a couple of months.
So we ended up at the nearby Tower of London, another fortress built by William the Conqueror in the 1080s, first as a fortress stronghold, then as a prison, much like others of its time. You can read more about the history by clicking on the link. We were led around by the famous Royal Bodyguards the Yeoman Warders, or Beefeaters, whose nickname is believed to come from the fact that they were allowed to eat as much beef from the king’s table as they wanted. They are distinguished service men who must have served at least 22 years in the armed forces with an honorable record in order to be considered for the post. During our tour, I asked a question about their uniforms: The “E II R” stands for Elizabeth II, “Regina,” or Queen in Latin.
Other notable notes from our tour: the collection of crown jewels is on display here, which was quite amazing to see; the Tower Green is where King Henry VIII had his second wife Anne Boleyn executed, among others; the impressive White Tower was built to strike fear into both enemies and unruly Londoners. It was a tiring but great day spent in our new city centre.