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Report 2023: Two Weeks in the Cotswolds and London

By Deva from USA, Fall 2012

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Page 9 of 15: Day Nine: Tower Times Two

I went out early as is my wont, enjoying yet another day of glorious weather. I went up into Kensington, past the Museum of Natural History, then Harrods (still closed), then on through the park to Buckingham Palace. Quite unexpectedly I ended up reaching the Palace just as the Paralymic Marathon was finishing, and saw the first several runners come in. It was stirring to see the visually-impaired runners with their guides running together, joined by tethers, coming in to the cheers of the enormous crowd.

I headed home to pick up Bob, and we enjoyed a picnic lunch of sandwiches from Pret a Manger (cheaper to go!) eaten in the park area along the Museum of Natural History. After a delicious dessert of gelato from Scoops (on the square by South Kensington tube station) we headed off to the Tower of London.

The Tower was very impressive and very tiring! We skipped the Beefeater tour because there were so many others waiting for it. But it may have been just as well as I was footsore from my earlier walk! The lines were not at all bad, even though it was a sunny Sunday afternoon. We got in to see the Crown Jewels easily (I was rather terrified by the enormous metal railed queue area outside, and could not imagine what it must be like at the height of the season), and had plenty of freedom to explore all the other sites. My favorite parts were the three swords (Temporal Justice, Moral Justice and the blunted Mercy blade), the graffiti in Beauchamp Tower (especially the IANE ones for poor Lady Jane), and the resident ravens, so glossy black and imposing.

I also very much enjoyed just sitting on a bench people watching. There were so many tourists from so many countries.

We then took the Thames Clipper boat from the Tower Pier down to Embankment, and walked past Westminster Abbey and Big Ben, which were both as stunning as one might expect from such landmarks.

A quick bus home, and we headed out for dinner at a noodle/dumpling bar Iíd seen earlier, called New Culture Revolution. The food was excellent, especially Bobís Singapore noodles, and we took home our leftovers.

Then it was time to head back out: for a return to the Tower of London! I had sent a request several months ago for tickets to the Ceremony of Keys, which happens every night at 9:45. It is free, but only 25 people or so may attend, and you thus need to get the tickets in advance.

It was quite late for me (my normal bedtime is 9) but worth it for the atmosphere! The shadows of the marching soldiers, the flickering of the real lanterns, the clinking and clanging of the doors and the lap of the water behind us at the Traitorís Gate. I did wish there were not quite so many people allowed, because it was hard to see some parts. If you can get a good spot in front, it is best! The ceremony is short.

There were more post-Olympic festivities going on across the river, which added an odd energy to the night, with a distant driving beat of drums and an enormous screen playing images of flames and dancers. If I had more energy I might have gone across to check it out!

But as it was we just returned straight home. At first I was worried about walking back in the dark, but there seemed to be many people out along the main streets from the tube to our apartment.

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