07 May 2012

You've Seen One Crown

Thursday 5 Apr 2012
After our Wicked awesome time the previous night, we needed to have a bit of a lie-in to recover. When we finally got up and had another leisurely breakfast at the flat, it was time to mind the gap twice more on our way to Tower Hill. This is where the famous Tower of London was built, which makes sense since they named it after the hill.
I remember being only mildly interested in The Tower on my other visit to London way back in 2000. When you realize that 12 years is but a blink in the history of this fortress, it is not surprising that little has changed. Halfway through the Jeweless Crown Room (which was before the Crown Jewels Room, both of which we had to queue for) Alex summed it up brilliantly when he said "You've seen one crown, you've seen them all."
After finally escaping The Tower, we followed a self guided tour which was led by a awesome bloke and walked across The Tower Bridge (also named after the hill) to the South Bank. This is definitely one of my top two banks in London, but maybe only because we didn't make it to Gringotts. We went to Hornis Hob Pub for some Southern British food. Ella got chicken off the kids menu, Alex got a beef rib pie that was way better than my Shepherd's pie, and Shelley probably got some kind of salad. Shelley is now telling me she did not get salad everywhere and at this meal she actually got chicken curry. I say if you want to know her version of events, you should read her log.
Since it was Thursday the nearby Borough's Market was running - this is a street/farmer's market with crazy wonderful random stuff including a great beer stand, a place that sold freshly dead rabbits, and an Indian tea guy. The latter was my favorite. Being a tea snob wannabe, he could have been a guru to me as we discussed topics including first flush vs second flush, the differences when you steep the same leaves once, twice, or thrice (yes, he used the word "thrice"), and what infusing is really all about. Unfortunately me talking tea with my new friend was somehow less interesting to everyone else then it was to me, and I was dragged away too soon to look at the freshly dead rabbits.
We crossed that river again, this time via the Millenium Bridge which led to St. Pauls. We saw the entire cathedral between where you go in and where you have to pay. It looked nice.
Later that evening we returned to the South Bank to overcome a disappointment from our previous trip to London. Back in 2000 The London Eye was extremely difficult to score tickets for because it was brand new and was only going to be around for five years. After waiting for a couple hours we gave up, and since that day I have regretted it. Luckily in 2012 there is still an Eye in London, and thanks to the internet you can book tickets ahead of time thus reducing your wait in line to less than an hour.
Was it worth a 12 year wait? Definitely. The views we saw of London as the sun was setting were brilliant - I don't think the many many photos we took can do them justice. I wish we could have gone around again. The "4D Experience" however was not worth the price of admission, and it was included for free. Boo, I say, and not just because it had 3 less D's than the thing in Iceland.
We took way too many more pictures of the clock tower which contains Big Ben (yes I was listening to the tour guide on the bus) before heading back to our neighborhood for dinner. This time we decided to go to a pub. Remembering lunch and trying to one-up my son, I ordered the slow cooked ox cheek and red wine pie. It was the best one I ever had. Love me some slow cooked ox cheek.

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