Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"London Bridge Is Falling Down..." 6/15/09

Tower Bridge seen from The Tower of London

Pam, you were right. I had buy a new memory card this morning. A measly 2GB memory card just couldn't cut it. I got to the Tower of London an hour early and started taking pictures right aways. The Tower of London was originally a castle fortress built to protect the city of London. It is right next to Tower Bridge. A section of the original Roman wall is just outside the Tower and couple of OOOOOld and beautiful churches are nearby. The yeoman warders were walking around too, so it was photo op, galore! I asked a couple of the Beefeaters if I could take their picture. Here it is below.

"Am I the first one to take your picture? I asked. "Not by a long shot, Luv." he deadpanned.
Even though it was a Monday, and there were a gazillion tourists there, the Tower still felt authentic and very historical. I got a truly funny yeoman warder for my tour guide. He really added to the experience. Did you know that they have to serve in the military for 24 years before they are eligible to apply to work at the Tower as a yeoman warder? If they get the job, they actually get to live at the Tower of London!
I think the thing that surprised me the most were the tragic stories of the women in the Tower. Anne Boleyn was beheaded and buried there. The warder told us that her fancy executioner surprised her and cut off her head just after she took her hat off. He did it so fast that when he held up her head, her lips and eyes were still moving! Just imagine, royal prisoners had the option of hiring and paying for their own executioner. That's really rubbing salt in the wounds. She sent for a famous one from France.
Lady Jane Grey was only 16 and a puppet for her power hungry uncle. She was taken to the Tower with her husband after being the queen for only 9 days. She saw her husband's execution from her window in the Bloody Tower and then had to follow him to the scaffold.
And of course Queen Elizabeth was imprisoned while she was a teenager by her own sister, Queen Mary. That old nursery rhyme is not about the Tower at all, but about Elizabeth's imprisonment and possible execution. "Take the keys and lock her up, my fair lady!" Elizabeth didn't return to the Tower for 27 years after she was released. Who can blame her!
This afternoon I took the tube (I even managed a transfer between two stations!) to the Tate Britain museum. Once again my eyes teared up when I saw the famous portraits of Queen Elizabeth. It just humbles me to see, in the flesh, paintings that I have only seen in books and on the internet. I also saw that fabulously weird painting of the two women who were born, married, and gave birth on the same day. The painting shows them in full Elizabethan dress, holding their babies, sitting up in the same bed! The experts are not sure if they were fraternal twins or cousins. Very strange and memorable!
The Cholmondeley Ladies
A strange thing has been happening. Lots of people have been asking ME for directions! At first is was confused Japanese or Dutch tourists. But today, three British people asked me for directions or how to manage the tube! Fortunately, I've been able to help them the last few days. I don't know why they are asking me. Hey, maybe I look British!
My feet hurt. The sun keeps waking me up at 5:30. I miss you all. But, I'm not ready to come home. Not by a long shot, Luv!
Royal Guards even at The Tower of London!

This is the entrance to The Tower. I was one of the first ones in,
but not for long!

The White Tower, better known as The Bloody Tower

These lovely Tudor houses were build inside the castle as a
wedding gift from King Henry the Eighth to Anne Boleyn.
They were completed just before her execution. She had a
clear view of them from her prison cell. What bitter irony!

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