2010 Vacation Day 8 [ G I ]

Today (Aug 6) was the Tower of London and the Monument, and whatever else we could see in-between. As Cindy and I had been to the Tower about 5 years ago, I was surprised how things had changed.

The first is that there is no video taping of the Beefeaters giving their (often humorous and irreverent) tours. There was also no "tipping encouraged" hints from these gentlemen; I guess some bureaucrat decided that it was unprofessional for these yeomen of the guard to accept a tip? Who knows. And on the subject of tipping, it does take some getting used to that in Europe in general, tipping is not an everyday occurrence.

The other big change was the "white tower" had been redone inside. This houses mostly arms and armory, and was re-done to be clearer and more interactive. There was an area where kids could interact with old weaponry, such as drawing a longbow and "firing" a catapult. The armor was displayed in some cases mounted on "sprues" so it looked like an enormous plastic model kit.

The ravens were still there, although moved a bit as there was a construction project underway on the white tower as part of external renovation (saw a lot of these, probably similar to Obama's Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Unusually birds of ill omen (think "Poe" and "nevermore", according to legend the future of both Country and Kingdom relies upon their continued residence, for at least six ravens must remain lest both Tower and Monarchy fall. It is difficult to see, as the ravens can fly for short distances, but of course their wings are subtly "clipped" so they can no make it over the wall.

We also walked over the Tower Bridge to have lunch; and coming back we saw an uncommon treat; in that the bridge was up and then coming down after letting a sailboat go through. You have to remind yourself that the span was opened in 1894, and the mechanisms still work today, although the steam engines are for display only.

We then went to the Monument, which was built by architect Christopher Wren in 1677 to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire of London, which absolutely devastated the city. As I had a) already climbed the monument 5 years ago, and b) was now 5 years older, I eschewed a chance to get a certificate for the journey up and down. Evan went up, which he thought was pretty easy; well if you're a 17-year-old track star with 1% body fat, then yes I would agree.

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