London: Day 2 – a little bit of London

With the birthday celebrations done, we were ready to get to know London a little bit better. The best way is to just walk it so we signed up for a walking tour with London Walks. I chose them for two reasons –  affordable pricing and no prior booking necessary. You just show up for the walk that you want at the noted location, pay your £10 (£8 for seniors and kids are free!) and you are set to go. I have mentioned in previous posts the importance of flexibility when travelling with kids which is why our preferred tours are usually private ones as we could go at our own pace. As everything is expensive in London, hiring a private tour guide was not within our budget. London Walks offered a different kind of flexibility in that we could decide last minute to do a tour (or not) just by showing up. So if I had a kid that wasn’t feeling well I wouldn’t be out of pocket for a tour that I had already paid for. Since this was our first time in London, I chose the Hello London! tour. I was very happy with our guide, the pace of the tour and the walk itself. Take a look at some of the things we saw during our walk…

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National treasury building. Churchill’s war room can be found in the basement.

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North entrance of Westminster Abbey

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Great west door and towers of Westminster Abbey (door used by the royals)

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Our tour guide shared many interesting tidbits of historical and architectural information during the tour. For example, this doorway was extra wide to allow for a sedan chair to be carried inside to load the wealthy resident(s) so that s/he wouldn’t have to set foot outside and get their boots muddy. The front stoop also serves as a nice rest spot for tired children;)

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Street along St. James Park

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Changing of the the guards for Buckingham Palace

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Police escorts for the guards as apparently the guards needed guarding.

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At the Crimean War Memorial

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Spring has come to London

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This was the ride of either an ambassador or royal. Apparently the elite of London still travel by horse and carriage. Followed by car escort no less.

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Incredibly there are still an abundance of phone booths in London. I can’t remember the last time I saw one in Toronto.

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Buckingham Palace

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The National Gallery, London

After the tour, we grabbed a quick lunch and headed on the tube to the Tower of London. At one time in its history it served as a royal residence, home of the royal menagerie and of course royal prison. Current famous ghosts in residence: Anne Boleyn, Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey, Margaret Pole and the Princes in the Tower (rumoured to be Edward V, King of England and his brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York who disappeared when they were 12 and 9 years of age after their father died and they were left in the care of their uncle who later became Richard III, King of England).

Most museums in London are free to visit, but the Tower of London is not one of them. In fact, it’s quite pricey at a cost of £57.80 ($104.75 CAD) for a family of two adults and up to three children. We weren’t sure it would be worth the cost but it turned out to be an excellent way to teach the children about some of the history of England and is one of the highlights of London for us. One of the best parts that I didn’t get a photo of is the interactive exhibits at the top floor of the White Tower. The kids loved learning how to wield a sword and how much strength was needed to draw a bow. And of course I didn’t get a photo of the crown jewels but trust me when I say they are there;) Here are some things that I did photograph…

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The impressive almost 1000 year old Tower of London. The White Tower can be seen to the left of centre. The grass is where the moat would have been.

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One of 33 Yeoman Warders, guardians of the Tower of London since 1485. Also known as Beefeaters. In order to be selected as a Yeoman Warder they have to be retired from the armed forces after at least 22 years of service with a medal for long service and good conduct. One of the benefits of this position is that they and their families get to reside in the Tower. One of their duties is to lead free tours through the Tower complex;)

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Courtyard inside the Tower. Tower Bridge is just peeking through the background.

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Inside this building lies the Crown Jewels of England

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Guarding the crown jewels. I’m pretty sure the one guard is saying to the other guard “I can’t see a thing with this bear fur on my head”.

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The armoury inside the White Tower

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Inside the tower grounds with another view of Tower Bridge

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The Thames with Tower Bridge once again in the background

And that wraps up day two!

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