Day 22

Sunday, June 12, 2011

   Today was such a cool day. First I got to sleep in a little bit this morning, not too late, just enough for me to not be dysfunctional in the morning. After a good breakfast in the hotel we took the metro to another part of the city. Our first stop of the day was the Tower of London. We decided to get an audio tour so we would know the history behind what we were observing. We literally spent several hours in the tower exploring the different wings and towers. The White Tower in the center of the fortress is over a thousand years old. There is so much history in the tower. So many kings and queens have lived there and people have been imprisoned and executed there. I enjoyed the audio guide because it told the stories behind everything and made everything more real.

   One of the first areas we explored was the tower with a chamber where prisoners were tortured. We walked down some stairs into a dark lair. As soon as I walked through the doorpost a cold chill came over me; in my head I could hear the screams of the prisoners that were tortured there. In the lair were replicas of the devices that were used to in the torturing with explanations of how they were used. After leaving that tower we continued in the fortress to a medieval palace, St. John’s chapel, St. Peter’s chapel which has a 17th century pipe organ still used and the graves of 1,500 people including Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, we saw the Royal Armory with some of the armor of King Henry VIII and other kings, a tower that hosts the crowns of some of the kings and queens of the 16th and 17th century, oh man there is so much history that there is no way I could summarize it all in a couple of paragraphs! We literally spent hours at
the Tower just listening to the audio guide and learning all the history, I am so privileged to have been able to go there, so cool!

   When we finally left the Tower we walked over to the Tower Bridge, a lot of people confuse it and call it the London Bridge. In the North and South towers of the bridge are exhibitions with the history of the bridge. We went to the top of the North tower first and watched a film and read about the history of the tower. We then crossed the east walkway at the top of the bridge over to the south tower. It was very interesting learning about the need for a bridge and the different debates that were held over what the design of the bridge should be. When we came down from the top of the bridge we went to the engine room and that was extremely fascinating. The bridge rises up for large ships and boats to pass through so the engine room was a very important part of the bridge. The design of the bridge and engine room was hailed as a masterpiece of Victorian engineering and I can see why. In the engine room there were explanations everywhere of how the bridge was powered by pressurized water, steam, coal, and hydraulics. Although the bridge is now powered by electro-hydraulics and the steam engines are no longer used, the machines were still there to be viewed. I was so amazed by the science behind all of it; it truly was a sophisticated and brilliant system. I just admire the minds of the men that designed and built the bridge. And to think, they did not have the computers and technology we have today that make building large structures easier and more accurate.

   After spending a couple of hours at the Tower Bridge we took the metro back to the area of the city close to our hotel. We then walked to an Italian restaurant for dinner. I ordered some lasagna and it was very good, nothing like the frozen dinners that go in the microwave, this was real lasagna! While waiting for dessert we looked over the metro map to plot out all the routes we’ll have to take for tomorrow. Of course you know by now I’ve learned how to read the routes on the map, at least I hope I have. For tomorrow I’ve been placed in charge of navigating through the city on the metro. I think I can do it! For dessert I ordered cheesecake and all I can say is delicious! Once dinner was over we headed back to the hotel to prepare for tomorrow, one more day in London!