Published on 23 May 2023 at 15:39

Monday - Tower of London Day! 
      The scene of Anne Boelyn’s demise. We had tickets for the ceremony of the keys - so got early entry. If you ever come to the Tower of London - DO THIS!  This allows you to go directly in to see the Crown Jewels before they let the general public in - and trust me - the line to wait to see the Crown Jewels is extremely long. Imagine you are at Disneyworld and waiting in line to ride Space Mountain, and you see the sign that says ‘You have 2 hours from this point’…. Yes, it’s like that. Boy was this a smart choice.  

     The Crown Jewels - well they were just FABULOUS!!! EXQUISITE! AMAZING! Any other word you can think of. There really is not a way to describe them - the brilliance of the gold, the sparkle of the diamonds… and knowing how old everything is, and how over the top indulgent these royals were back in the day. To me, it was well worth it. Greg, on the other hand… not quite as impressed with their ‘indulgent over the top taste’ - and was thanking his lucky stars there was a moving sidewalk requiring people to slide through at a reasonable pace and not letting people stand and gawk for hours!  In addition - he is not convinced these are the real Crown Jewels, but feels they are actually kept in some random basement. We couldn’t convince him of the secure enclosures and high security… nope. #SKEPTICAL SAM!!

     The entire tower tour was again amazing. The boys are both 100% sold on the tours I booked us on - very impressed with the guides, their knowledge and stories. They truly are well worth it. The stories of the history they share are so informative. And of course they are absolutely lovely people! 

     After the tower we headed to ‘Hung Drawn & Quartered’ Pub for lunch. Another great meal was had and we discovered some yummy new ciders that were quite refreshing after another long morning of many many many steps - stairs - inclines - you name it. 

     After lunch Cody decided to venture out on his own adventure to do a bit of shopping, and Greg and I went back to the Tower gift shop as I wanted to get some ‘crown jewels’ of my own. I succeeded on that front and came back with a pretty good haul.

     Some afternoon rest was in order before we ventured out for the Jack The Ripper tour. We took the train over to the WhiteChapel area to meet up with our tour. As typical Americans, we were early - so decided to wander around a bit. We immediately came across a man who had a ‘Jack the Ripper’ shop so to speak… which actually amounted to a book about the murders, some postcards, amidst some vape supplies. However, he was a true salesman, and sent us on our way with 10 pounds worth of the book, 3 postcards, and a genuine Souvenir King Charles Coronation magnet.  Greg befriended him quickly and they started talking all things ‘serial killers’.  Apparently, we missed the ‘worlds most knowledgeable Serial Killer expert Guide’ by one day.  That would have really made Greg’s trip! But they got on well and were comparing stories. It was definitely a fun interaction - and we enjoyed supporting the locals!  

     The tour was fun, we had a big group and met some wonderful people - a couple from New Jersey who were just coming back from a trip to Malta; and young college student who is backpacking through Europe. One of the enjoyable things about being here is all of the interesting people you cross paths with.  The tour takes you through all of the spots of the murders, several pubs that the victims were known to service, the buildings that used to be boarding houses for people to sleep in for a night at a time for 4 pence a night.  That is, if the women didn’t spend the money they earned as prostitutes by spending it on gin in said pubs. The WhiteChapel area is very interesting - still very run down in many ways, yet these old buildings are selling for millions as homes, with luxury cars parked outside them; yet graffiti, garbage, and homeless people right on the street as well. We couldn’t really figure it out. Then you could go to the next block and there would be high end restaurants… Go figure! The urban life, I have discovered, although interesting to experience, is definitely not where I’d want to spend my daily life.  

     So the tour, although fascinating, did involve - guess what - LOTS MORE WALKING.  I will admit, I definitely had hit my wall during this event. There was a lot of standing during the story telling time and by the end, we were ready to call it an evening. We were so pooped, we by-passed the reservation we had at the Ten Bells pub. This is one of those times that ‘plans don’t always play out the way you expect’ - and we were O K A Y with it.  We came back to the hotel and had another great dinner sitting outside, gazing at the tower bridge and enjoying some wonderful food & drinks. 

     Oh - and if you are wondering what theory of who Jack the Ripper was according to OUR guide - I highly recommend the Johnny Depp move ‘ From Hell ‘ - as he has the exact same theory.  He even shared how a very good friend of his is the descendent of the woman who ‘supposedly had a child with Prince Arthur’ - Queen Victoria’s grandson - which spawned the killing off of all of the women who knew about this scandal by none other than the official Queen’s physician - who was later given a lobotomy and put into an asylum under a false name. Like I said - the Johnny Depp movie tells the same story - and is quite interesting. 

   As we wrap up day 3 - we are finally getting pretty good at navigating the public transit system and are doing quite well on the underground. Anything to save a few steps is #1 on our list… but we still have walked a minimum of 6.5 miles a day. I will need to take a vacation to rest from this vacation!





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