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Monday, January 9, 2012

The Tower of London

Etching on prison wall at Tower of London (see more below)

Window in the prison at Tower of London

St.John's chapel in White tower at Tower of London

Inside armoury, Tower of London

I think this was where the Armoury exhibit was

Chopping block in armoury at Tower of London

London day #2

knock! Knock! Knock!

Was the sound that we heard at our door at 3am in the morning. My kids had been awake for about an hour now after having maybe 7 hours of  sleep. They were arguing about something and the neighbors next door had obviously heard them. Four kids cramped in a little room together, after being on a 10 hour plane flight together... with their sleep schedule messed up, and whom were all hungry by this time, was not a pretty sight. My husband and I could shshsh! them and explain over and over again that they "need to be quiet" and "We are in a hotel."ssshhssh!" But there is not much else we could do at 3am in the morning. I wasn't about to take them for a walk outside at that time. For the hungry factor,there's no 24 hour stores in London to get food at. And even if there is, I would get lost in the dark and I don't know London. We were trapped.
Modern Art we saw while walking to
St. Paul's Cathedral

Anyway back to the knock at the door. Actually I was a little freaked out to answer the door, given the fact that it was 3am and we were in another country. We had no idea if we picked the right part of town to stay in. My kids were all with us and who knows who it could be. My husband opened the door a crack to see that it was the front desk attendant asking if everything was alright? Then he  opened the door and showed the front desk attendant that we had 4 kids in the room and they were fine. I explained that for us it was daytime normally now, and the kids couldn't sleep. He said," oh sorry, but one of your neighbors had called down and complained and said it sounded like there was a fight in here." My husband and I just laughed. The front desk attendant apologized and said he was sorry for bugging us and to make sure to try and keep the kids quiet, and that people are sleeping. I couldn't have planned that. After that, my kids were silent. I don't think they fought for at least 3 days after that. Well at least in the Hotel room.

Well, by 5amish and watching every show on the TV that we could find. and already planning our whole day and getting our stuff together,my kids were ready to get out of that room. The sun was starting to come up. We got on the elevator and went downstairs hoping the breakfast room was open. No such luck, it wasn't open till 6am. So we decided to just wait down there. It was a nice change of scenery.When it finally was 6am we were all famished. The waiter seated us and we all began looking at the buffet and all the food and packing our plates. The waiter returned a moment later and asked if we would like anything to drink. When he got to my son, my son said, "donde estan pantalones?" We all started to laugh.The girls giggled saying that's Spanish. "I know" said my son. The waiter just looked at us with a confused look and walked away. 

So this is how our day started. With us laughing. When we were finished eating we headed to the Tube to get to the Tower of London. 

On the way there my 10 year old daughter began explaining to me all the history of the kings and queens that had been effected by the Tower of London. She had researched the Kings and Queens of Europe knowing we were going on this trip. She is a child that will take a subject and research and research it until shes can't find one last bit of information left on it. For example, a few years before this she had started to read the Little House on the Prairie series. When she got finished with the series she moved on to find books that Laura Ingall's granddaughter wrote and then other relatives. Then she went on to just research the pioneer days and was mesmerized  with anything from the old west time. After that we watched the whole series of Little house on the prairie. The whole while with her criticizing how it was not like the books at all, and it was this way etc..etc.. 

So anyway, we all learned a history lesson from her while walking around the Tower of London. She was our little tour guide.

When we arrived at The Tower of London we were literally the first ones there. I think we got there about an hour and a half before it opened. Our time clocks were still back at home time. It was ok though, because there standing before us was not only the amazing exterior of the Tower of London but a spectacular view of the Tower Bridge  over the River Thames that was right next to the entrance.
We explored and the kids kept very busy looking at the structure of all the buildings. Eventually  they plopped themselves down on a bench. One of the things I love most about being in Europe is even a bench is a piece of art, or the window behind it is hundreds of years old. Everywhere you look you are in wonderment of the buildings around you. History is breathing right there in front of you.

When they finally opened the doors it was everything we imagined. The structure was clearly the medieval castle I had pictured in my head. We walked around then joined a tour group to try and listen in. Eventually the kids got bored and we went on our own tour. It didn't matter anyway since we had our little 10 year old encyclopedia with us :)...She walked us into the rest of the buildings talking about Henry the 8th and his wives. We stopped to see a memorial that was for all the women that had lost their lives at the Tower of London. Mostly Princesses and Queens. My daughter knew about all the stories of their lives and told us each one. It was a eerie feeling walking near the site where the beheading block had been.

 Then we went directly into the prisons and saw the etchings on the walls that the prisoners had etched while they were imprisoned there. I felt ill looking at the etchings that were on the walls. It was hard to conceive that people were once held prisoners here and had wrote their last words on the walls. We whisked our three year old in and out of that quickly without trying to explain to her. I wasn't quite ready to have a talk about such subjects with her yet. My older kids were mystified and in disbelief. They just stared at the walls. 

When we left there we headed to a much happier section. The well guarded crown jewels, which was made up of 23,578 jewels. This includes the Imperial state crown that has 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, and 5 rubies. It was unbelievable. After that my son wanted to go to the weapon rooms.(The fortress) He loved seeing all the weapons and armour with the exception of Henry the 8ths armour. Let's just say Henry thought he was well endowed and his armour clearly showed this. I remember my girls were bright red and couldn't stop laughing. You would walk around and look at the different ones and read the name and there was another one..Henry the 8th's armour. 

After this we decided to take a break. It felt like it was 8 oclock at night. When my husband looked at his watch and told me it was only noon. I thought he was kidding me. I was exhausted by then and so were the kids. We all decided  to go and eat lunch so we went walking and found a sandwich shop near the Tower and sat down and ate. After eating sandwiches and salads we all felt revived. I guess we still were all so excited to be there.
St. Paul's Cathedral

We planned our next stop to be St. Paul's cathedral. 
St. Paul's cathedral was my first real experience with an actual real historical church. To step foot in and  see a  church with so much history was an extraordinary feeling. It was my first time I ever had seen a giant fresco. I walked in and could barely breathe I was awe-struck how intricate and beautiful the carvings, statues and paintings were. I think my kids were just as impressed because they all stood there and were quiet staring at the ceiling and all around them. After we left we went walking then headed back for the hotel.

Off we go to the London Underground to head to The Tower  of London

My son was obsessed with these posts. Wondered why we don't have posts like this at home. 

Statue near Tower of London a Roman Emperor named Trajan

Paintings on the way into The Tower grounds

They had a jousting tournament while we were there and my son and husband  got to try on helmets. The  response was that the helmets were very heavy and hurt their necks. (pictures above with helmets on )

Medieval versus Modern

Tower Bridge

Gates outside Tower Of London

Tower Bridge

Kids sitting  and waiting to get in to The Tower of London

Main Entrance, Tower of London

The White Tower or called donjon was used as lodgings for the King or his representative when visiting.
It was one of the strongest structures in the castle.

Pathways through the castle 

Love this photo with all the action. This is about when I was thinking... it's only noon?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I never knew you had such a historian in the family! All so interesting and I can almost feel your exhaustion. Waiting for the next blog. :). K