The BlogFather – London – Day 2
I am absolutely shattered. We walked. A lot. After an all you can eat breakfast at our hotel, we venture out into the streets of London to get to the Tower of London. We booked tickets and, thankfully, it’s only a short walk away from the Premier Inn. The sun decided to come out and it turned out to be a stunning day.
The Tower was not what I expected. I expected an actual tower. Instead it’s like a fort/castle. We wandered the grounds and climbed a few of the towers (the Bloody Tower, the White Tower and another which I forget the name of) and I managed to snap a few awesome shots. We tagged along on a tour to get into the chapel and, in true Reddit style ‘r/todayilearned/’, TIL that once the gates close at midnight, the Beefeaters and other staff stay locked in. They actually live in the tower. They have their own doctor and chaplain. And a pub.
We also discovered some diversity within the ranks here – there was a Sikh Royal Guard and a female Beefeater. The Sikh Guard was also allowed to wear his own head-dress which was pretty cool and looked more bad-ass than the daft looking Bearskin hats.
Inside the White Tower, we saw tons of armour and swords as well as some funky gold-plated Thompson machine guns and other decorated firearms. Some of the older pistols looked pretty kick-ass. The ascent up the tower was pretty tough on our already weary legs. Again, I wouldn’t really have classed this building as a tower.
After an expensive visit to the cafe for a can of pop each (£2 a mother-fudgin’ can!!) we make our way to the Thames boat tour. We bagged ourselves a return from Tower Pier up to Westminster and back. It turns out that we had paid to go to Greenwich but we would have to get on another boat and the amount of time and hassle just wasn’t worth it. When we got to Westminster Pier, I realised we should have just had the one-way fare as the ‘Shrek Adventure’ was directly opposite where we had stopped and I wanted to book tickets and check it out. Tomorrow, we said.
On our way up, one of the crew gave a live commentary of the sights with a few risque/cheeky references and remarks. Proper Cockney geezer he was too. The tour itself was okay, but it was made worthwhile by this cheeky wee chappie. The fella on the way back was nice enough but he lacked the comedic clout of his colleague. The return cruise seemed a lot longer as well…much to the dislike of the kids…
We eventually arrived back at Tower Pier and decided to stop off somewhere for a bite to eat. Pret A Manger stood out as being the obvious choice as it was directly in front of us as we left the gates’ I’ve seen plenty of these in my time but never actually tried their establishment and I doubt I will again – the prices are shocking and the sandwiches were even more bland than the last guy’s Thames commentary. While the kids ate, I decided to have a smoke and my wife goes to check out the gift shop to get a magnet for the fridge to mark the occasion. £6.99 later, we have a Tower of London magnet that we could have ended up having that and six others in another gift shop for £7…Oh well.
We being the trek back to the hotel, using my built-in sense of direction and we stop off at a Costa en route for a little caffeine injection before heading back to Aldgate. The walk back wasn’t bad, to be fair. The kids were a bit grumpy after a long and busy day. Seren seemed to really enjoy her time at the tower – considering her age it’s clear the other two are just too young to really appreciate or enjoy most of the journey. We make a little pit-stop at a Tesco Extra to grab some alcohol and snacks and continue back to the hotel. Considering I’ve never been to London before, my sense of direction was pretty damn good.
As we get into the hotel, the mental sighs of relief we all had seemed to resonate. There was no better feeling than collapsing on the bed after taking my backpack off and shedding all that weight I had been lugging around. I practically fell asleep when my wife went to her Mum’s room before we headed downstairs for dinner.
The evening meal was stunning. Three courses and a free drink. A perfect way to end the long and exhausting day that preceded it.
It’s our last day tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to it (in the sense that we have to take all our luggage with us everywhere as we need to check out by 12).