Sunday, August 6, 2017

Travelogue: London (part 2): Tower of London, Golden Hinde, the play that goes wrong.

Because of the recent train disaster, I didn't really get to talk about the stuff we did Wednesday-Saturday (well briefly, about Harry Potter on Saturday) but wanted to chronicle more thoroughly our London adventure.  I'm getting further and further behind on my travel chronicling!  I will endeavor to catch up.


This post is part of the travelogue of our London Trip 2017.
If you'd like to read the posts in chronological order they are below.

Part 1:Travelogue London: Arrival
Part 2: Travelogue London: The Tower of London/Golden Hind/Play That Goes Wrong
Part 3: Travelogue London: Hampton Court Palace
Part 4: Travelogue London:  Buckingham, Hamley's, Posh Tea, and an Old Enemy
Part 5: Travelogue London: The Making of Harry Potter (coming soon)
Part 6: Travelogue London: 48 hours of very hard travel by train.

On Wednesday, we did quite a lot.  Here's the rough breakdown:


We got up a little later than we wanted and made our way over to the Tower of London.  We'd walked by it the day before, it was on our London Pass, and it was something we definitely wanted to do.

It was raining a little bit, but fortunately, we'd brought our umbrellas.  We walked in and even in the rain it was pretty crowded. We wanted to take the Yeoman tour (they are supposed to be funny) but one had just left, so we decided to see the Crown Jewels on our own, and come back for the tour.  There was a line of about 35 minutes (supposedly) when we went in, but we cleared it in about 20 minutes.

We saw the Crown Jewels which were pretty cool, but very crowded.  Sadly I did not get to try on a crown,  although they do have a virtual area where kids can see themselves in a crown.  Weirdly, I didn't even try.  (But my son did!)

Buy this on Amazon.
We came back to the tour of the Yeoman with about 3 minutes to go, and waited for about 20 minutes until a guy came out and said Next tour in half an hour.  So we kiboshed that but instead did the walking tour on our own of the tower walls.  We skipped the dungeon tour (which was supposed to be incredibly gory and torture filled, and AA did not want any of that ("creepy!") so we walked through the tower walls, where the king used to live in the 1300s, then ate lunch at the tower, which was surprisingly good, and probably much better than prisoners were used to getting.  The most fascinating thing to me was how small the king's area for sleeping was (Considering he was a king)  It was probably quite sumptuous in those days, but for us, not so much.

At the gift shop I bought AA a book about all the stuff he missed.  They had a whole series of books about London and England from a kid's point of view- quite funny books in the Horrible Histories series.  I really think they are great.  Aaron complained that this book was too gory but he read it all, and he remembers a lot of it.  They are written very cheekily with a little bit of London attitude and I found them funny and informative.
My son tries on the Crowned Jewels (virtually)
Not sure why I didn't!  Next Time!

One of the things I really liked were all of the myths/superstitions about the Tower.  There's a myth/legend going about that if the Ravens ever leave the tower of London, the Tower will fall.  So to this day, they keep at least 6 ravens in the tower.  It's weird and barbaric and totally in keeping with what I know about England.  Love it!

As we started to exit, there was a little play going on, where the commoners were grousing about their taxes and threatening to rebel (which they actually did in the 1380's, one of the few times the secure Tower of London has been taken over.)

The play was quite fun, and I actually wanted to see more of it.  But we had to get going, because I was going to see one of my old college chums and her husband.

 I would happily go back to the Tower the next time I am in London and spend some more time there.   The architecture is amazing, and the history of it (over 1000 years!) just makes me awed.

(Although there are so many other things I didn't do, that I don't know if it will get first priority next time)


After that, we walked down the road to the City Hall to meet my friend Alison and her husband.  I hadn't seen Alison in about 5 years (she came to NY and we did a walking tour of Battery Park City with AA) so it was nice to see her, meet her husband, and have her see how the boy has progressed.  She was very complimentary about him (and I will take full credit!)

We walked the Southbank of the Thames, through the Clink area (former London Prison) and saw the replica of the Golden Hinde, Sir Francis Drake's ship with which he circumnavigated the globe.  It was pretty amazing to consider how many people would live in these tiny areas for a year or more at a time under terrible conditions.  (Most of the under part of the boat I couldn't stand -under it was too short.

The boat itself has also circumnavigated the globe as well!  The docent told me that it had been to Newport, New York, and lots of other places as well.

If you are on that side of the river, it's a cheap self-guided tour, but the boy and I and Alison's husband Julian had a great time touching every rope, asking the guide about the rope and pulley system, and peering out the tiny windows.

(I just looked it up, and it looks like it may have closed:  We asked a lot of questions, but I didn't think it was THAT many to close it down!  Unless this is a different organization, or the website is just old?  I don't see anything in Yelp about it closing.) 

I would happily waste my
time here as well!
After that we continued onward, walking past the Globe theatre, the Southbank theatre, and the Tate Modern.  We didn't go in to any of these (another time) as we needed to take our leave of Alison and Julian to grab a quick dinner and go to the theatre.  Of course I forgot to take a picture with Alison because I am a dolt.

But I grabbed a bunch of fun pictures, including the Trash cans of the South Bank, a shark tank adventure that we didn't do (supporting some kind of crazy shark movie) and me posing with Laurence Olivier.

Selfie in front of the Globe Theatre.  (hello Mr. Shakespeare!)
Shark tank on the South Bank.  In support of
a dumb-looking movie.  But an interesting idea!
I believe that Sir Laurence and I share a striking resemblance!  (But I'm biased)


We stopped at Covent Garden, went into one of my favorite stores in the world (Pollocks Toy Theatre Shop), took an obligatory selfie at the PUnch and Judy Pub.

Surprisingly, there weren't street performers going at the time, so we grabbed a quick dinner, and then headed off to the Duchess Theatre to see THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG.  It was a marvelously funny farce, in which an amateur theatre society attempts to put on a murder mystery and the set literally falls apart.  Seriously, the set is another character in this play.

All of the characters were delightful, really a lot of fun.  My son really loved it, especially the surly working class stage manager, who is constantly looking for (and sometimes playing inadvertently) his Duran Duran CD.

We had a great time at the play, but we were so tired after this pretty busy day that we decided to take a
cab home.  We had an early day planned for the next day too!

The cast of the Play that goes Wrong.  It was very very funny!

Pollocks Toy Shop.  I especially love their Toy Theatres!
Obligatory selfie in front of Punch and Judy Pub.

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