Our first (of probably several) trips to London was this weekend. I was impressed with how easy it was to get in and out of the city. We took the Virgin train, which travels up to 100 mph, and it was a much shorter and more painless journey than it would have been by car. We got into Euston Friday night, and headed straight for the London Eye. We used our rail tickets and the 2 for one deals (see previous post for details) which was a great deal. The views from the London Eye were incredible, especially at night. We even saw a few fire works off in the distance. Even as someone who has a hard time with heights, the ride was so smooth and not at all like a carnival Ferris wheel that I had no problems.
Saturday morning we woke up early to see the Tower of London. We made sure to arrive before it opened because the poppy memorial was still up and draws a huge crowd. The memorial consists of clay poppies, one for each British life lost in World War I. They poppies fill the moat of the tower, and a “wave of poppies” starts to cascade over the wall. The memorial is very moving, and looking at it gives a better of the sheer magnitude of the loss of life and sacrifice in the war.
We strategized, and Lucas got in line for tickets, while I got in line for breakfast, and we made it into the tower just after it opened. It really is amazing that the central building, the White Tower is almost a thousand years old. So much history happened within those walls, along with a few beheadings. As soon as we got in, we headed straight for the crown jewels, which I recommend because we didn’t wait in line at all, and a few hours later, the line was several hours long. So if that is something you want to see, I recommend heading there as early as you can. The bling is quite impressive. We also took the free guided tour with the Yeoman Warder (Beefeater) which I recommend as well. The tour was entertaining and I learned a lot about the tower that I would not have otherwise. Prior to the tour, I was unaware that the Yeoman Warders had to serve in the military for quite a long time and have an excellent record of service to be considered for the post. They are also locked into the tower at 10 PM every night along with their families, who also live there, and have their own doctor since they aren’t allowed to leave.
We spent the afternoon wandering Picadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square, and got tickets to see a West End show at night.
On Sunday morning, we caught a river boat cruise from Tower Bridge up to Westminster, and walked to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard.
Afterward, we spent the afternoon at the British Museum, which has quite the collection of artifacts. The Rosetta Stone, Eygptian mummies, Greek and Roman sculptures and religious objects from around the world. It was pretty incredible. I could have spent a week there and might not have seen everything.
Overall, a great weekend in London!
Next up is a quick trip to Ireland, any advice on what to see in County Cork and Dublin?