On our final days in London (Days 4&5), we covered many miles on foot, witnessed the scenes of historic beheadings, chased Harry Potter, and perused some famous jewels. Don't get any ideas about walking off with them fellas...."the rack" (medieval torture device) is only a few short steps away!
One of the Strouse House "musts" for travel is to find a local and ask them advice on where to eat/what to see. We took that concept to the extreme when joining up with a guided tour at the London Tower. Our tour was led by a Yeoman (a member of the Queen's guard). If you check the Beefeater Gin logo, you'll see an exact replica of their red uniforms and funny hats. They are the oldest group of formed men, pre-dating the Vatican Guard by 600 years! They still live within the Tower walls with their families and act as guards and tour guides. The older men seem funny and harmless enough as tour guides, but the young men walk the grounds with automatic rifles and look like they mean business.
On our tour, we passed:
1.) The Traitor's Gate which was used to ship prisoners in and out of the Tower.
2.) The site of the only six people to be executed within the walls. All were beheaded and these lucky figures included Ann Boleyn and several other queens. It was considered a great honor to be executed within the walls and was reserved for the most respected and dignified.
3.) The Royal Armor Collection which included suits of armor worn by British kings, princes, and horses. The collection also included famous presents given by other monarchs and a royal weaponery collection.
4.) A tower where two princes were secreted away and eventually "disappeared". It's also where the queen nicknamed "Blo0dy Mary" plotted and schemed.
5.) THE CROWN JEWELS!! We walked past famous items like coronation dresses and ceremonial carriages before finally reaching the motherload. We hopped on a moving sidewalk and slowly passed crowns, swords, rings, sceptres, and more. The Imperial State Crown is the one everyone thinks of when they hear Crown Jewels. It features over 3,000 jewels and prominently displays the "Second Star of Africa" which is the second largest stone cut from the famous Cullinan Diamond. This stuff was massive, mostly made out of gold, and stunning in its' presentation. So cool to see pictures, paintings, and a few modern videos of these pieces in the hands of famous names like Queen Elizabeth II (looking gorgeous in 1953 at her coronation), King George V, and more!
We finished day 4 with dinner at an authentic Italian restaurant called Cosmoba (family run for 65 years!) It was so hard for Allie because we sat next to a wall of 100+ Italian wines and the table next to us was drinking an aromatic red. I ordered wood-fired pizza with pancetta and Allie had homemade ravioli. For dessert, we shared a soft/fluffy crepe filled with nutellla and hazelnut icing. To finish off the meal we had blood orange sorbet and some tea. Heaven!
Day 5 in London would be our last and shortest, since we had to catch a flight to Dublin in the early evening. We took the Underground to Hyde Park and began a slow walk through the grounds. We really wanted to rent some bikes and ride though the park, but we hadn't yet received our "chip n pin" credit cards so our plans were foiled by the rental machine. We strolled passed a lake with the biggest swans we had ever seen, beautiful gardens, tourists riding horses, an art installation featuring extremely lifelike sculptures of American people cliches (student, man on riding lawnmower, homeless man), and finally the Princess Diana memorial fountain/garden. We walked several miles that day just enjoying the beautiful weather and taking sonogram selfies in front of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and more.
For all you Harry Potter fans out there, we stopped by the King's Cross 9 3/4 platform on our way to the airport. We were staying next to the the King's Cross station the entire time in London and had no clue it was where Harry Potter had been making his famous trips to school! We took a train back to the airport, made a short flight to Dublin, hopped a bus to our hotel, and stumbled bleary eyed into a "NY Style" pizza place called Difontaines at 11 PM at night. America is everywhere....
Next week, I get to enjoy the adult beverage side of Dublin and we fall in love with Ireland. See you then!
Missed any of our Strouse House Adventures in Europe? Read them here!
Let the Adventure Begin | Strouse House Adventures: Europe
Greenland is Ice. Iceland is Nice. | Strouse House Adventures: Iceland
Welcome to London | Strouse House Adventures: London
Taking a Stroll Down Memory Land | Strouse House Adventures: London
Football and Famous Mummies | Strouse House Adventures: London
Leaving London | Strouse House Adventures: London
Falling in Love with Dublin | Strouse House Adventures: Dublin
Keep up with our other adventures here in our STROUSE HOUSE ADVENTURES!