Wednesday, November 09, 2011

European Adventures - London Part II

10.15 Saturday
Up at 8 and ready to kick London’s ass!! We hop on the tube again and travel down to the Westminster Abbey area for our guided tour and when we arrive we have some time to kill so we take a walk down to the Regency Cafe for a typical London breakfast.

The Regency was one of several places I had looked up and added to the places to go list, and I think the ONLY one that we visited our ENTIRE trip. It's cheap, it's local and it's well reviewed and not just on travel guides. Check it out on Yelp. The locals love it. Plus you can't beat a place that has a line almost out the door, you order at a cash only counter and a guy yells out your order both when you place it and when it's time for you to pick it up. Yum.


Our tour of the Abbey's grounds commences a short time later and we learn the history of the 1000 year old building (some parts are newer)





and a little about London’s history. Like the houses of Parliament - which is really Westminster Palace.




The Queen's Entrance to Parliament


Look kids, Big Ben!




We also learned the story of Oliver Cromwell who served as Lord Protector during the short lived British Commonwealth.


and visited the Jewel Tower - the original home of the crown jewels before they were moved to the Tower and one of the few remaining original buildings of Westminster Palace.


and explored the neighborhood surrounding the Abbey which includes where members of Parliament lived (at least until the rent got too high recently).



During the Blitz members of the community opened their homes to people on the street so they could be sheltered when bombs started falling.


The Circle line tube was shut down for the rest of the day so we take a double-decker bus to the Tower of London. Before we toured the Tower John HAD to eat so we hit up a local pub for a couple of pints and fish and chips.


We make it back to the Tower just in time to catch the last Beefeater tour of the day.


After the tour we get to see some medieval torture devices,




the Crown Jewels,


The jewels are kept in the building above, but no pictures are allowed. John did get to meet the guard outside though.


and ended with some awesome armor and weapons.





Some shopping and another pub trip, this time a German pub




precedes our final tour of the day, the JACK THE RIPPER tour where we literally follow in his footsteps through the old creepy foggy alleyways of old London.

The Jack the Ripper tour was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The first time I went to London I had wanted to go on one but we just didn't have time and it just didn't happen. It was top of my list on things to do this time around. I highly recommend London Walk's tour. I've always been intrigued by the Ripper, but had no idea just how gruesome the killings were, or that he took pieces of his victims with him and quite possibly ate them. It was so interesting to literally visit the scene of the crimes. You really got a feeling of how creepy it was and how easily it would have been for him to commit the murders in this dark and twisting alleys. As creepy as it sounds to have enjoyed a murder tour it was really good and a London must do.

Then it’s off to bed for our early flight to Prague in the morning.

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