Well, after my short disappearance from the blog, I can now say that Green Lantern and I were busy taking on London. After reviewing back through everything that had happened, I decided to split this blog up into portions, probably 4 all together, that talk about everything that has gone on since we have been gone. Let’s take on the first part, shall we?
We arrived early last week, in late afternoon. I had been planning out this trip for weeks. My guidebook was coated in a layer of tags of all of the things I wanted to see, and I was finally walking well enough that I hoped to be able to do it without crutches. It was by pure exhilaration (and need for dinner) that I insisted I needed to see something that screamed “London” the first night we were there. Though, I couldn’t decide what that was. Green Lantern decided it was Piccadilly Circus. I was amazed when we stepped up from the Underground. It was like how I imagined Time Square to be. Loud, Crowded with people, including street performers, and a huge, screaming, scrolling advertisement system built into the side of the building. We also ventured to Trafalgar Square, with it’s beautiful column in the center dedicated to Horatio Nelson.
The night wasn’t complete, however, until in our wandering we came across Westminster Abbey and Parliament (and of course, by extension Big Ben), all lit up for night. This is when it hit me; we are truly here, on this beautiful Island, in this amazing and city which has been so alive for centuries. It’s almost overwhelming when you think about it. And this was just the first night. I had my mind blown many times after.
The next day we had our first expedition into history in this city. Our first stop was the Tower of London. This was highly anticipated for me. Even from the time I was a young girl, I had loved the history associated with the Tudor Dynasty in particular. Though the Tower of London brings together the strands of many portions of English history, and is even currently the house of the Crown Jewels, I had this association I can’t shake with it. To me, it conjures up images of Henry the Eighth and his wives, and his quest for a male heir. I see in my mind the reforming of the church, and the imprisonment of Anne Boleyn, my favorite of his wives, and her eventual beheading along with her brother and others. I also think on the imprisonment and beheading of Queen Catherine Howard, and her practicing laying her head on the block, and her “lovers” Thomas Culpepper and Francis Dereham, who was not beheaded, but drawn and quartered, and hung.
The Tower did not disappoint. It was gorgeous, it’s drafty hallways and towers, with the names and cravings of famous prisoners still on the walls, gave an eerie feeling that stirred my emotions. Traitor’s Gate, which was often the last sight incoming prisoners saw, gave me the chills. The Crown Jewels looked like stars sparkling to no end. The Beefeaters and Royal Guard in the traditional dress gave a feeling of legacy. Also, the museum attached to it, which displayed the armor of many English Kings throughout history (including Henry VIII and his only surviving son Edward VI) was well constructed and a joy to walk through. Green Lantern especially enjoyed the Dragon, which was built out of a variety of English weapons.
After lunch at a charming little port-side restaurant, which Green Lantern had his first truly English dish, Bangers and Mash, we ventured to the next half of our day. We took a walk across Tower Bridge, one of the most famous bridges in the world. This was something that Green Lantern wanted to do; He told me that when he visited London as a child, he didn’t get to walk across it. It is remarkably short when it comes to walking, but still quite beautiful, and I felt mimicked the tower that it was named for.
Here our plans got funky. It was our initial plan to go to the London Dungeons, an attraction that I am going to describe in detail in my next post. However, The wait was well over two hours when we got there! So we learned our first lesson of London: If you are ever traveling here, make sure you buy tickets for anything you know you really want to see, buy tickets ahead of time. You will still have to wait in line, but it won’t be as long. Since this attraction was my pick, we moved onto on of Green Lantern’s: HMS Belfast. This ship was a battleship from World War II, and was supposedly one of the largest and most powerful ships to re-enter the war, after it caught a German mine early on. It was actually a headquarters ship during D-day, and also served in the Korean War. However, once we walked there, we discovered that it was actually closed. It is set to reopen in May, just in time for the Summer Olympics this year. After, this strike two, we were at a loss.
Our solution was the London Aquarium. We again ran into line problems, but the wait was shorter then the wait for London Dungeons. After what seemed like forever (from me being up all day on my knee), we wandered among the fish tanks. As a lover of aquariums, I will say that this wasn’t the best aquarium I have ever been in, but it’s not the worse either. It is very kid friendly, and is boasting currently about it’s increased number of sharks. it has a fun atmosphere, but like many aquariums, can get easily overcrowded. Overall, we were happy with our choice to spend the time.
This is where I’m going to leave you today! Look out for the future parts later this week.