London traffic is a nightmare. One of my favorite parts of the tour was listening to the tour guides bicker with the bus drivers about how to best maneuver the city. Evidently the traffic in the city has gotten so bad that they’re now imposing (or will be imposing?) a fine on cars for driving through the city center during peak hours.
Traffic was particularly bad on our tour day due to several road closures for a funeral at Westminster. As a result, Tish’s tour bus got stranded and our merged group had to get on one of those hop on/hop off busses to complete the tour. This was very confusing to all the tourists on the bus who were NOT part of our group. Another result of this bus SNAFU was that Tish’s original group didn’t get the sack lunch they were promised and they were hangry and livid. I felt A TINY BIT guilty that we had already gotten our lunches from Mark and were neither hangry nor livid. What did I tell you about Mark?
One benefit of the bus swap was getting to sit on top of one of those classic red double decker buses. When we drove over the Tower Bridge, and I was able to get some neat pictures.
When I was a kid, we used to play “London Bridge is Falling Down” and we’d make our arms like the Tower Bridge and drop to the ground. As a result, I grew up thinking that this ^^^ is London Bridge. BUT IT’S NOT. It’s Tower Bridge. I think I got a few pictures of London Bridge, but it’s so mundane I’ve already forgotten which one it is. So, here are more pictures of Tower Bridge instead.
Our next tourist destination was the Tower of London, home of the Crown Jewels and the tormented spirits of hundreds of people who were brutally murdered there. HISTORY! Evidently 6 ravens live at the Tower and legend holds that when the ravens leave the Tower the monarchy will crumble. I think Queen is pretty okay, so I hope the birds hang out. Here’s one:
Tish didn’t tell us much about the Tower. She just walked us in and said, “go look at the things and meet me back here at 3:00.” Here are some pictures not worth writing home about:
The Crown Jewels were pretty neat. We saw the largest cut white diamond in the world. When it was originally mined, it weighed 3,000 carats. Imagine wearing that on your finger. (BUT I WANT A RING SO BIG IT GIVES ME BACK PROBLEMS) The largest cut piece is 530 carats and it’s in a crown or something. I don’t remember and they didn’t let us take pictures. There were a lot of big gold plates and dishes in the Crown Jewels room and I was like THESE ARE NOT JEWELS THESE ARE UGLY DISHES STOP WASTING MY TIME, LONDON. But they also had some old footage of The Queen’s coronation and that was cool.
After the Jewels, we went into the armory and learned that horses used to have boobs and suits of armor had a special compartment for large penises. HISTORY!
I also learned that the King of Norway sent a polar bear to live at the Tower of London. Gave it to whoever was ruling at the time.
The best part of our visit to the Tower was when two guards were marching through the yard and yelled at a derpy tourist for not moving out of their path. One of the soldiers just opened his giant maw and yelled, “MAYKE WAYE!” (Imagine an angry British accent.) The tourist guy was startled and just kind of slithered out of the way. But you know, if I had to wear this furry fucking hat on a 70 degree day, I’d be a little grumpy too.
Then we went on our boat ride down the Thames. I think the boat is part of the public transportation system, like the tube but over water. Water Tube. Folks were using their Oyster cards to pay for the ride. Tish took us to some spot to look at some buildings and I don’t remember what they are or why they are important. I was pretty tired by then. I do remember is that some lady, probably a queen, refused to let somebody build anything that would block her view of the water. So there’s her house–the small white building way in the back–and the larger structure built around her view. Haha. I love sassy ladies.
I perked back up, however, for THE LONDON EYE. I was so excited to get on this thing. Each pod has standing room for about 15 people. The eye doesn’t stop turning for loading and unloading, you just have to follow it along the platform. It moves very slowly though, so they only have to stop it for people who might need extra time getting on and off. It takes about a half an hour to make one revolution, and the view is outstanding. We hit it just as the sun was going down and we got some great pictures as a result.
And the view:
Matt’s a little nervous about heights, but he was a London Eye Champ! I think he took his glasses off so he didn’t have to see outside the windows so clearly.
Once the sun sank, we were pretty much done for the day. We walked past another pretty building, said hi to Big Ben, and hopped on a train toward our air bnb.
Our neighborhood was full of quirky restaurants. The most intriguing was called PIZZA AND CURRY, though the inside was heavily adorned with cheeseburgers. We decided to get dinner there. TO OUR DELIGHT we discovered that they made a curry pizza. That’s right, folks. CURRY PIZZA. Two of my favorite things in one dinner option. It was pretty tasty. Constructive Criticism: More curry. That’s it. Just…always more curry.
And thus ended our first day going full tilt London tourist. We fell asleep on our creaky air bnb bunk bed, feet sore and bellies swollen with curry pizza.