So this was my Mom and I's second trip to London, and my third, and I realized I had still barely touched the tip of the iceberg with many popular tourist attractions, so we set out to rectify that, heads down, tourist hats on and inherent lollygagging/window shopping natures set (briefly) aside!
We stayed in Blackfriars, which was very central and convenient for to'ing and fro'ing to the sites. Our first day we visited Tate Modern, of which I have no pictures, but to be frank the building is kind of hideous -sorry Tate Modern!
We were able to breeze through it quite easily in a couple of hours - to be honest it is under a lot of renovation so I'm not sure if we saw everything there is to see, but it's definitely worth a look if you are down the South Bank.
Our second day we had an itinerary planned of:
*Tower Of London
*Covent Garden/something/we weren't really sure!
So the Tower of London is very imposing and impressive and full of gawping fellow tourists. It's all so old and historical and full of gruesome stories of princes.
|Roman wall, American tourist!|
|"Walkee Talkee" view fromTower|
|Oh hey London Bridge|
|A child Prince's armour (um I forget which one sorry!)|
|Henry VIII's armour...yeah his was a little chunkier than the rest!|
|Even teenier kid armour, so creepy/weird!|
So yeah, Tower of London is very cool and definitely worth visiting. The Crown Jewels are amazing, of course, they stick you on a conveyor belt so you sort of slowly whizz past them but you can get back on and go around in circles if you want (we did!). No pictures of those bad boys allowed, sorry!
They try to play down how many people were killed and tortured there weirdly though, there are quite a few bits of the audio tour and exhibits that say something to the effect of "We only killed 17 (I forget exact number) people, really no big deal!". The tower where they have a display of a rack and some other torture shackle things is also very demure about it all "Yeah this was a torture rack, we only used it once in a blue moon though so no need to get your knickers in a twist".
I laughed at one point as we were walking behiind a couple of Americans who both sighed in slight disappointment that "I thought there'd be more torture!"
I'll be honest though, by the end of all of the tower climbing my knees were killing me, and it is a ridiculous amount of stair climbing, often you are climbing to the top of a tower on teeny winding stone steps and you get to the top and there is like...a poster and some sound effects. I was kind of over all of the climbing by the end!
|One more gratutious London Bridge shot from the bank of the Tower|
Our next planned stop was to go to the "Sky Garden" in the um...Walkie Talkie building - it has a real name which I forget but everyone calls it that because that's what it looks like (see picture at top of post, it's the funny shaped one next to the Gherkin shapen one...London you really are random with your skyscrapers!).
It's one of the few high views that are free in London - the Shard costs almost £30 which I think is OUTRAGEOUS. There are restaurants in some of the taller buldings but the bloggers' favourite Duck & Waffle was closed while we were there. I also tried to get a reservation at Sushi Samba but they only had 11:00 p.m. dinner reservations.
So we walked there (about 10-15 minutes from the Tower), and we had made reservations ahead of time online as you are meant to (it's free but you book one hour slots) and...there was a huge line wrapped around the building. Like well over a hundred people. And we were just like "Hell NO!".
I mean, they probably let people in in large clumps, but it didn't seem like there was any way to differentiate if you had a time slot reservation (you can just turn up to it and chance your luck), and we didn't want to stand in line and then not get in because we missed our slot. Plus I knew from reading online you have to go through a heavy duty security check that takes up time too. SO yeah, we weren't feeling it - I get that it is a popular thing obviously as it's free, but the organization seemed a bit lacking.
So we had a little think and kind of randomly ended up here:
Ok so that's Big Ben, not where we ended up going but it's the first thing you see when you get off the tube at...
|Houses of Parliament|
We had sort of ruled out going to Westminster Abbey as my Mom had already been and I wasn't super fussed about it...but we ended up there, and it was really awesome. I had only driven past the area on tour buses in the past, I admit.
You are not allowed to take pictures inside, except for a few of the areas outside the Abbey proper. The Abbey itself is very massive and sort of spooky and you are given an audio guide with the dulcet tones of Jeremy Irons to guide you through the various tombs, monuments, chapels, religious and historical tidbits, etc. It really is worth seeing, it can be kind of a mob scene trying to squeeze into the smaller chapels, but I do recommend it wholeheartedly. The gardens were closed when we were there which was too bad but other than that it was lovely.
Ok well I suspect that's plenty of touristing around for one blog post! As usual I learned the lesson of "You can only plan for so much/ you've got to roll with the tourist punches" pretty early on this trip. Which ended up working out possibly even better so hey ho. I will finish up the rest of our trip soon for anyone interested!
|London on a sunny day/ The Shard as seen from Tower of London|