Friday, August 12, 2011

Monday in London

We were so excited to get started on our sightseeing extravaganza. Our London Pass offered over 100 venues to enter in for free (well, for the one price of the card) so we wanted to get as much use out of them in the 3 days it was available. First stop: Westminster Abbey.

Isabelle: "There was a scavenger hunt for kids and I had to look around and answer questions on a paper. They were hard to find, even for mom. The inside of Westminster Abbey was BIG. There was a lot of stained glass. Every hour, they said a prayer and everyone stopped what they were doing and joined in. There were a lot of statues and a LOT of tombs and chairs. At the end I got a BIG chocolate coin."
Big Ben was right next to the Abbey and is part of the Parliament building. It is really an amazing structure (I posted a photo in the last post).
Taylor: "It looked like it was falling over because of the way the clouds were moving, but we didn't go inside"
We then took a Thames River boat cruise up the river.
It was cool to see all of the buildings from the river to get a better idea of the layout of the city. They pointed out many of the different buildings and gave a bit of history about different areas.

Next up was the Tower of London. It is a 900 year old fortress. It has an outer wall all around, and a castle in the middle, and several other buildings around it. Today it holds the "Crown Jewels". They are wonderfully displayed. Of course we couldn't take pictures, but we saw The Crown and other orbs and sceptors and rings and royal platter, etc. It is crazy how much pomp and circumstance still goes into the monarchy today.
This is inside the outer wall (which has a walkway around it, and spikes and weapon holes to keep others out)
This is the "White Tower" which is in the middle of the fortress.

There are displays all along the outer wall that talk about those that stood guard for the king.
This door fit Isabelle perfectly!
After lunch, we went to the Tower Bridge, which is obviously right next to the Tower of London! I always thought this was the famous London Bridge, but I, like many others, was mistaken. The London Bridge is a plain looking regular bridge just 1/2 mile down river.
This is as ou start walking across. The exhibition starts at the second arch you can see below.Do you see the elevated walkway up above Danny's head on the picture two up, that is where we got to go. This was one of my favorite places this week. It was cool to be up so high above the river, and to look out, and to learn the amazing history of the area. There are two walk ways that run parallel to each other. This is the view of one of them while standing in the other.
All along the walkway, there were pictures and history of the bridge. They were also very smart to put different children's activities along the way (like this bowling game) to keep kids occupied while the parents read all the signs!
This is the machinery which was the old coal driven steam powered hydraulic system used to elevate the bridge. (That was a quote from Danny!) Now it has a different system, but it still opens about 3 times a day. We didn't ever get to see that happen.
The sun came out for a few minutes to have one more bridge photo.
After this, we went to a place called "The London Bridge Experience" which I am glad we didn't pay for. It was kind of an interactive telling of the hundreds of years of history about that area and the actual London Bridge. There were different rooms, and actors, and then at the end, they take you down to the dungeon, and it is basically a spook alley with all sorts of special effects, blood, gore, strobe lights and people jumping out at you. Not what we were expecting, but apparently, that kind of thing is popular here-not just during halloween time.

We took the riverboat back to where we started. This side of the Thames is where the "London Eye" is, that huge ferris wheel. It was not included in the price of our pass, and so we skipped it, but the sunset was beautiful.
And then our pass gave us some free tokens to an arcade right next to where we are standing in this picture.

Is anyone else exhausted???

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