Tower of London - London England TravelogueMonday meant it was time to check out of my delightful room! I was sad to see it go. I took a lot of photos of the room to help other visitors know what it would look like. Then I headed downstairs to check out and to meet with the hotel staff. I took a tour of the board rooms and halls that can be rented for weddings, meetings, and other activities. They were all beautiful. The views from these rooms are just amazing. I'll be doing a full write-up of the areas on BellaOnline.
When the tour was done, it was about 9am, and the Tower of London didn't open until 10am. I bought my ticket right from the hotel concierge so I didn't have to stand in any lines. Then I walked over leisurely to the tower - it's right next door! This hotel really is the perfect spot as a base of operations. I was in the Tower line at 9:30am and was literally the fourth person in line. That meant that when 10am rolled around, I was one of the first people in through the gates, and there were no crowds at all!
Our group made a bee-line for the jewels as everyone else behind us meandered slowly to look at things. The Tower of London isn't just one tower - it's a very large area, a full 13 acres, enclosed by an outside wall. These 13 acres hold a wide variety of buildings, courtyards, and more. So it takes a lot of people to get it full. At first opening, it was utterly vacant and serene.
It is amazing how long the line areas are leading up to the jewels. That is, it was like Disney where you wove left and right through multiple rooms. Since we were there all alone, we just ducked under the ropes and in a few minutes we were in the actual jewels room. All alone! Peace and quiet!
They had moving pathways by the jewels so that people couldn't stand and gawk for long periods of time - but since we were the only ones there we walked backwards on the pathways to stay in front of things as long as we wanted :) It was delightful. Then eventually I'd seen enough of the jewels and headed out. When I passed the front of the building the line was only just starting to form at this point.
OK, over into the actual towers where they held their prisoners. Again, it was completely quiet! I could sit in utter silence and imagine what it would be like to be a prisoner there. I gazed at the carvings in the walls, wondering how a person could sit there for years, working on the intricate designs, not knowing what their fate would be. There were no crowds, no docents hurrying you along, nothing. Just the tower walls and the sense of time.
Slowly over time the gigantic area of the Tower of London did begin to fill up. There were now tour groups moving along with guides, family groups, and some of the more tiny buildings would have people in them that you waited to leave and take your turn. But by this point I had seen literally every building and nook and cranny. I'd stood in silence in the King's private chapel and thought about Henry VIII sitting there while his wife was executed. I'd stood on the walk where Sir Walter Raleigh got his only glimpse of sky. I'd soaked in the feeling of living in a different era.
After having a sandwich at the cafe by the ravens, it was finally time to go. I headed back to the hotel, gathered up my items, and the concierge helped me out to a waiting taxi. The taxi took me to London Bridge station. I already had my ticket so I headed out to the platform. Peter called me several times from the train to ensure I didn't on a wrong train this time, and soon his train pulled in and he waved for me to get on. I was off on my trip to Bordeaux with him and his wife!
The story now continues on my WineIntro site, where I have the write-ups of the Bordeaux wineries!
I'll note that the riots for this week began last night, Sunday August 14, 2011. However, they didn't affect my area at all, and I left London before they escalated.
Bordeaux Winery Reviews
Photos of the Tower of London
London Travelogue main page
Lisa's 2011 Travelogues Main Page
Lisa's Travelogues Main Page