London Day 3

Saturday, March 12, 2016

We almost made a big mistake this day! For some reason I thought we had purchased Harry Potter tour tickets for Thursday, but when we double-checked them as we were heading out the door to make the hour-plus commute to the tour, we realized the tour wasn't until Friday. Oopsies! So, instead we grabbed some Burger King breakfast then headed out to see more London sights.
"Our" stop - Gloucester.
Sunshine! Once again, even though the weather was supposed to be poopy, the sun won out and our hearts were delighted. We traveled out to Tower Hill to tour the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. 
The Tower has served as a castle in wartime, a king's residence in peacetime, and, most notoriously, as the prison and execution site of rebels. You can see the Crown Jewels, take a witty Beefeater tour, and see the executioner's block that dispensed with Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, and troublesome heirs. 
We got our tickets and entered the complex.
True blue doors on the Tower Green. 
The actual execution site is at the far end in this picture. It was here that enemies of the crown met their end. Grim.
Inside Wakefield Tower. Gruesome stuff happened here, too. I don't even wanna talk about it. Too macabre.

I had to.
We were there early so it was almost completely empty. Perfect time to go check out the Crown Jewels inside this pretty building.

The jewels represent the ultimate power of the monarch and include the Sovereign's Scepter which is encrusted with the world's largest cut diamond: the 530-carat(!!!!!!!!!) Star of Africa. Pictures weren't allowed inside but here's one from the internet:
 The Imperial State Crown - worn by Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation day. ("It's coronation day!" #frozen)
All of the gems, crowns, scepters, and rings are something to behold. Definitely worth seeing IRL.

The original Tower of London is the 90-foot tall White Tower at the center of the complex. William I, a.k.a. William the Conqueror, built this castle in 1077 to secure his new acquisitions. Standing high above the rest of London, the White Tower provided a gleaming reminder of the monarch's absolute power of his subjects. It also served as an effective lookout for seeing invaders coming up the Thames. 
Chapel inside the tower. 
The White Tower now holds a museum of arms and armor. They used some of those items to create this cool dragon. Fox would have loved it.
I love all the glass buildings fronting the Thames.
Leaving the tower complex we walked down to check out what is arguably the most famous bridge in the world: Tower Bridge. The hydraulic bridge was built in 1894 in a retro Neo-Gothic look. 
Blue lampposts.
Walking around the 18-acre Tower of London complex. 
Next on our plan was to go see St. Paul's. Rather than ride underground on another tube, we decided to take one of the iconic double-decker city buses. We hopped on at a nearby stop and got to sit in the very front of the top section. I loved it. I never wanted to take a train again. :) I love being able to SEE where I'm going!
Soon we arrived right at the foot of St. Paul's Cathedral. Chris admires the architect Christopher Wren, so he was loving taking this all in. 
This is Wren's most famous church with its elaborate interior capped by a 365 foot dome. After the Great Fire of 1666 destroyed the old cathedral, Wren created this Baroque masterpiece. And since World War II, St. Paul's has been Britain's symbol of resilience. Despite 57 nights of bombing, the Nazis failed to destroy the cathedral, thanks in part to the St. Paul's volunteer fire watchmen who stayed on the dome.
At 515 feet long and 250 feet wide, St. Paul's is Europe's fourth largest after St. Peter's, Sevilla, and Milan. 
The admission includes access to the tower climb and of course we took advantage of that for some of the best views in London. 
Selfie on top of St. Paul's
One of my favorite city's in the world. Dare I say most favorite??
A partially obscured view of the iconic Gherkin building.
Looking down and out to the river and the Millenium Bridge, famously destroyed in Harry Potter.
Leaving the church we walked down to the river and across the Millenium Bridge. 
This is London's first new bridge in a century. When it opened the $25 million bridge wiggled when people walked on it, so it promptly closed for repairs. 20 months and another $8 million later, it reopened. It has a sleek minimalist design and its clever aerodynamic handrails deflect wind over the heads of pedestrians. 
After resting at the hotel for a little bit, we headed out to Notting Hill - separate post (cuz it totally deserves its own ;) can be found HERE
Meandering through beautiful Notting Hill.
Knickacks on Portobello Road.

Yay for blooming trees!
Then we walked down Palace Court to see where I lived for 4 months in the summer of 2005.

Sooo surreal to be back 11 years later! Nothing has changed!
Old home-sweet-home!

The buildings just across the street.
I was wondering how much one of these flats cost and I found my answer - it's even on Palace Court:
4,750,000 POUNDS. Ha. Well. Guess I won't be living here anytime soon ;)

By this time we were peckish, so we hopped on the tube and rode back to Covent Garden for Shake Shack part 2. One burger each last time just wasn't enough so this time we got three burgers (one and a half each), fries, a shake, and another root beer. so. flippin'. good.
Despite having lived in London for a few months, I never went to the iconic Harrod's department store, so after dinner we decided to check that out.  
Harrod's is London's most famous and touristy department store. With more than four acres of retail space covering seven floors, it's a place were some shoppers could spend all day. Big, yet classy, Harrod's has everything from $100,000 watches to toothbrushes. 
On the ground floor is one of the best parts: the food halls. With their Edwardian tiles, creative and exuberant displays, and staff in period costumes, it's something else.
Fun themed rooms. 
And as we were eyeballing the displays we discovered they had Neuhaus chocolates! We fell in love with these on our trip to Belgium. They were just as good as we remembered. We called that a day and went back to the hotel excited for our trip out to the Harry Potter studios in the morning.
And, because I know you were wondering, we made good use of our selfie-stick purchase! From top to bottom is us in front of Tower Bridge, riding a double-decker bus, in front of St. Paul's, and at the Tower of London. 

Another fun day in London!


  1. Fantastic photos, really enjoyed your tour. Well planned!

  2. Love it! and there is definitely more for me to explore the next time I go out there. :)


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