On this day, as he'd just seen the touristier things in London the year before, Jeff headed off to Greenwich to see the Prime Meridian and other Greenwichey things. That left Eileen and I to hit two of the major tourist spots, starting with the Tower of London.
It wasn't at all what I had expected — the size of the complex beyond the walls was amazing (I thought there was one tower with the crown jewels at the top, oops) — there's a whole city back there. We started by walking through the medieval palace, and then we took a tour led by one of the Tower's Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters), Robin.
Then we went to see the crown jewels, which are so over-the-top it was hard to believe they were made of diamonds, jemstones and real gold. They were all stunning, but the crazy highlight was the punch bowl (Eileen told me about it beforehand but I had no idea it was going to be so enormous and intricate...it was really more of a punch vat). We were lucky in that we didn't have to wait in line long to see the jewels.
After the jewels, we went into the White Tower, to see some of the armor and weapons, and then the Bloody Tower, and some of the other buildings where prisoners, including Sir Walter Raleigh, were held.
Then, in our attempt to hit our new London Double (Jeff said it couldn't be done, but we are fast, and don't read all the little placards on things), we headed to Westminster Abbey, which was amazingly intricate in its architecture. The hodgepodge of tombs, though, was a bit over the top.
We went on a London Walk through the Abbey, so we had a guide to point out the highlights. Among them, tombs of various kings and queens, Sir Isaac Newton, Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens. It was the beginning of my being mildly freaked out by people buried in the floors of churches, although here I think it was justified — in one of the older segments, they had put a coffee stand over some people's tombs. I think that's just a wee bit over the line, there. If they put a coffee stand over my grave, I expect a double espresso piped down there every day. Italian roast. I just want to go on the record with that one.
We met back up with Jeff and finished the evening with an Along the Thames pub walk, again with London Walks. We stopped at four pubs, the last two from the 18th and 17th centuries, and had a half pint in each. I'm a fan of the half pint; I think they need to bring it to the U.S. Along with sandwiches in a box. But I'm getting ahead of myself on that one. We had Portugese food (roasted chicken) to wrap up the evening.