[28 Jun.] London, Day 2
Today was a bit more exhausting than yesterday, and I think the main reason for that is waking up at 6:30am when I slept at midnight the night before. Six and a half hours of sleep was not ideal; I had set an alarm for 8am.
I left the house this morning around 10am, and I boarded the tube to London Bridge station to visit the Tower of London. As I walked across the London Bridge, I could see the magnificent and world-famous Tower Bridge ahead. In the middle of the bridge, there is an entire section of photos, altars, and flowers dedicated to the victims of the London Bridge terrorism attack on June 3rd. I decided not to take a photo of that because it would seem disrespectful.
I walked briskly in order to arrive at the Tower of London as early as possible. I heard that the Tower would take very long to explore. Along the way, I got to see the alleyways of London that, I am assuming, not many tourists would see. I also noticed that there are many buildings in London with bells. Could they all be churches?
True to people's words, the Tower of London stands tall in the center of the city. I could see the ancient, medieval-like brick structure poking out of the skyline filled with modern buildings. There were many people there, mainly in groups (group tickets were cheaper per person). I bought a ticket for 28 pounds and a souvenir guidebook for another 5 pounds (I felt I was pressured to get it because when I was waiting in line, I saw other people buying the book and was somewhat curious about its contents. When it was my turn to buy my ticket, the line behind me was so long that when the cashier asked if I would like to purchase one I quickly said "Yes" before fully processing my thoughts).
To clarify: the name "Tower of London" refers to the White Tower, which is in the center of a fortressed stronghold. The White Tower was first completed during the reign of William the Conquerer in the 1000s and was preserved throughout the ages by the respective monarchs. Now, the Tower of London refers to the entire stronghold.
Anyway, the entrance to the Tower of London was not overly impressive. It was an arched gate about six meters tall. The gate led to a brick bridge that led to another, wider gate. That gate opened up to a courtyard, and many people gathered there. The courtyard was where the "beefeaters" (the Yeoman Warders), the high-ranking royal guards of the Tower of London, gave hour-long spoken tours. I attended a spoken tour, and my beefeater guide had a particularly dark sense of humor. Anyway, he led us to the Traitor's Gate, which used to be the water gate for the River Thames. It was through that gate people accused of treason were brought in the stronghold to be imprisoned and executed. Next, he led to the front of the Bloody Tower, in which a series of unfortunate events brought upon the tower its name, most famously when the boy king Edward V and his brother Richard of Strewsbury, Duke of York, disappeared. He then led us to the Chapel of St. Peter, where many important people, both royal and committed of treason and executed, were buried under. We were not allowed to take photos in there. It would've been considered treasonous.
After the spoken tour, I explored the stronghold by myself. I first went to see the Crown Jewels, and I kid you not, they were some of the most beautiful things I've seen in my life. While I have been to stores for expensive jewelries before, never in my life have I seen jewels and gems that dazzle so brightly under little lighting. Every single piece on every single Crown Jewel shone in all colors of the rainbow. The shine sharply invaded my eyes, but I could not close my eyes or take my eyes off of them. They were simply too beautiful. The gems' ability to reflect light was simply incredible. I also could not wrap my head around how high of a price each Crown Jewel potentially could worth. One scepter has a 530-carat diamond, the biggest diamond in the world. I wondered that, if the country sold it, it would probably could pay the EU divorce fee in a year. Like the Chapel of St. Peter, one is not allowed to take photos in there, or else one will be convicted of treason.
After the Crown Jewels, I went to take the Wall Tour, in which visitors walk on the walls of the stronghold with exhibits at the wall towers. There was one more, smaller Crown Jewels exhibit, an exotic animal clay exhibit (back then, the monarchs used to keep exotic animals from across the world to show off their powers against the other countries' monarchs), a prison tour where prisoners left graffiti on the walls, and a war tower defense tour. Throughout the Wall Tour, a lot of the history of the stronghold was told through the different exhibits.
Finally, I went into the White Tower, which is at the center of the stronghold. The building was mainly an armory exhibit, with many selections of weapons and armor pieces used throughout the ages. All of the metal ones looked so sparkling clean and new; I wondered how they managed to get preserved so well. Kudos to curators! (Or are those people only for art museums?) The building had three main floors, and each floor was much wider than seen from the outside. There was also a section for torture instruments. Some tourists next to me looked nauseous at that section.
The Tower of London also has many ravens to show its medieval backgrounds. Many warning signs said that they could bite, but they looked so fluffy I wanted to pet them. Also they were cuddling each other.
After the Tower of London, I went towards the Tower Bridge, which is directly next to it. There's a ticketed "tour" on the Tower Bridge, which was basically an elevator that leads tourists to the top walkway. I didn't go on it because I had other plans, more specifically Trafalgar Square and National Gallery. However, just walking on the bridge itself was amazing. It was basically like walking under a skyscraper. A soon-to-be married couple was taking wedding photos there.
After crossing the Tower Bridge, I hopped in the tube for a quick ride to Embankment station. From there, I Mae a short walk to Trafalgar Square. This place reminded me of America because of all the street performers, mimes, signers, and graffiti artists. I immediately headed towards
the National Gallery, where the royal family has stored arts throughout the ages.
I didn't spend much time there because I was tired. I am going to spend more time there tomorrow morning though.
I went back to the house around 7:30pm, made instant noodles, and took a shower. I was more tired today because of all the walking across two bridges and throughout the Tower of London. I think I am going to sleep now. Tomorrow, I will be having afternoon tea with a friend. I am excited!