Woke to a cool, grey morning on the early side. Again trying to get ahead of the crowds to see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London - almost a 45-minute bike ride from our flat. Per usual, we were right on schedule...which means an hour behind when I wanted to arrive.
However, queues were modest and we beelined to the jewels in the farthest section and walked right in. They were spectacular, although I kind of thought they had more than just the coronation items and perhaps additional tiaras, jewelry, and baubles. The key part of the exhibit moves you along on a conveyer, which was clever. Walking out, there was easily a 30-minute line to enter the exhibit and the lines built during our time.
Exiting, a Beefeater was finishing up a tour, sharing about some of the famous executions they held at the Tower, plus some info about the Yeoman Warders themselves. He kindly answered questions and I wish we'd taken a photo with him.
We spent around three hours and found the 1,000 years of history fascinating! Rowan predictably enjoyed the armour, Logan said the jewels were his favorite, Tom perhaps unsurprisingly liked the torture devices, and my favorite were the prisoners' wall carvings and inscriptions. I took hundreds of photos, it was so beautiful and interesting. We all enjoyed it immensely and learned a ton!
Next, we walked across the Tower Bridge, grabbed bikes, and pedaled to a nearby Indian restaurant for a late lunch. (Sure glad I packed snacks to keep the grumpies at bay!) The food was excellent, although quite different than what we eat at home. Sun burning through and the day starting to warm up, although still windy.
Refueled, we toured the Tower Bridge which was really neat. We were fortunate to perfectly time our visit for the bridge to lift for a boat, so we strategically positioned ourselves mid-span on the glass above (installed only four years ago) and got some good video and photos. Seeing the old engine room was very interesting too.
From there, we walked over to the HMS Belfast, which played a role during WWII, including D-Day, and a decade beyond Korea, before being decommissioned. We unfortunately only had an hour before closing, but we were quickly able to see almost the entire ship. Really needed another 30-60 minutes more to do it proper justice. The good news was that being late in the day, we had the ship nearly to ourselves. We split up, with Tom and Logan heading one way and Rowan and I heading another. The squirt was most interested in the turrets, pushing every button, trying every single phone, a d flipping every. last. switch. he could find. It was fun!
Worn out, we started the long jaunt home, with a final souvenir stop near the Eye to add more press/squish pennies to their collection. We literally ran out of time on our bike rental, so ended up grabbing an Uber from Hyde park for the last bit. With 25K steps, I was not sad to skip 13 more minutes of biking!
Tried to eat up leftovers for dinner and got packed up for an early morning ahead. Excited for France, but sad to say goodbye to London (particularly as it felt like we were getting it down!)
Our only real issue was today while biking. Early in the day, I was a complete klutz and managed to take a spill from a stationary position (reminiscent to my dive into the rice paddy in Vietnam!), with several gorgeous bruises to show for it, plus pretty stiff and sore by the end of the day. More seriously, Tom took a glancing blow from a taxi and badly twisted his ankle (long story!)...he is okay, but it was scary and we are lucky it wasn't worse.
Rowan has taken nearly 700 photos and has kept up every bit during the trip, bouncing along like Tigger most of the time. No more bickering and teasing between the boys than normal too. Both kids have been super engaged and curious in what we've been seeing. I'm excited for the rest of the trip!Read more