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Everything London! Just a little later than planned.

This morning we woke up and made another wonderful breakfast of bananas, yogurt, English muffins, some British tea and orange juice. We watched the morning BBC news, took a quick shower and then we were out the door. We had a very busy day ahead of us!

We had planned to leave our apartment quite early to get into Westminster Abbey when it opened at 9:30 a.m. Since our travel cards were off-peak cards, we "hired" or rented Barclay bikes to bike to the city. It was only a 20 minute ride into Parliament Square. We had a little bit of trouble getting the bikes out because we did not have a rental card, but after some struggle we finally figured it out. We asked the lady inside our building but she did not know until Laura found out you not only rent the bikes but the time spent on the bikes as well. Josh and I navigated the streets, always staying on the left, crossed the river Thames, and made it to Westminster Abbey. Once there, we went to the nearest bike drop off, but much to our dismay, there were no spaces available. We entered in our bike information and got 15 minutes added to our used time and went to the next drop-off point. After visiting 2 points, we finally found one with 1 free spot. We put Josh's bike in the free spot and Laura set off to find a spot for her bike. With no cell service it was a little worrisome, but we planned to meet up at Big Ben. Josh walked back toward Big Ben alone and stood outside took some pictures and hung out by the police there while Laura cycled through the borough of Westminster searching for a drop-off point. After visiting 4 of them, she finally found a free one in front of a group of townhouses. Our conclusion? On a Monday morning, the citizens of London leave their homes and bike into the cities for their jobs; thus the ones near the abbey and in the main city were full. Laura returned and bike and briskly walked to meet Josh, who was slightly worried. Josh had set his alarm for thirty minutes before he was going to head out to find Laura but she made it back pretty quickly. We then went to Westminster Abbey. Although our London Passes said the site was a fast pass entry, this was false. We had to get in line with everyone else... Bummer. But, the line went quickly and we were able to easily grab our free audio tour handsets. While there are no photos allowed, inside the Abbey was gorgeous and grandiose. You were also not allowed to walk on the unknown soldiers grave which is gated off. Throughout the Abbey there are graves along the ground where famous and influential people are buried. For those who chose not to be buried there, such as Shakespeare, there are commemorating marble statues. In poets corner are several famous poets includes Lewis Carroll and TS Elliott. Isaac Newton also is buried there. Handel has a rather large section commemorating his life. He is buried there as well. Many kings and queens also have large burial areas within the Abbey. They date back all the way to the 1200s. While walking around they observed a moment of silence to reflect and pray. In one of the areas of the abbey, there is a whole in the wall, that was later filled with glass, where a world war bomb went off. Also, Oliver Cromwell, who led the civil war against the monarchy was buried there, but after the monarchy got back into power, they dug him up, hung his dead body and chopped off his head.... Gross! We saw a room where the monks who would have lived in the abbey would have lived. After visiting the Abbey museum and gift shop, we left and it was drizzling rather hard (we would expect nothing else from London). While we were hoping to do a river cruise ride on a nice and sunny day to see a different view of the city, we decided to still move forward with our plans. On the cruise there was an upper and lower deck. The lower deck features cushioned chairs and a bar/eatery. Josh and I purchased a coke and ice cream bar made with a hard chocolate shell, ice cream, and cookie dough. After finishing our snack, we went to the upper deck and braved the misting rain to see the sites. The river cruise featured a wonderful guided tour. Along the way we passed: Big Ben, London eye, the globe, HMS Belfast and even one of the oldest bars in London (The Anchor) where Shakespeare and his actors used to come. After a 30 minute cruise, we arrived at London Bridge, where we headed to the Tower of London. Our tour guide on the cruise requested a tip as we excited for beer money that he proudly announced. While it was rainy we walked along the wall of the tower into the exhibits where we learned about how the tower housed royalty, prisoners, the Crown Jewels and even at one point wild animals. One interesting fact was that six ravens were kept at the tower and they will said to be good luck. Even today, the tower keeps them ( and even an extra just in case). The Crown Jewels were awesome. There was about a 15-20 minute queue and once inside you could not take pictures. The Crown Jewels have faced many trials and tribulations. In the 1600s they were destroyed. Then, they were nearly stolen and destroyed in a fire. One neat thing about the Crown Jewels is kings and queens that follow will take parts of their predecessors and use it on theirs. We saw the towers that archers would use to defend the castle, a gate that lead into the water called traitors gate, and warning the two ravens they have bite!

After the Tower of London we went up into the tower bridge and learned about its history, steam engine rooms and got gorgeous views of the city. First we went up in the bridge which has a walkway way above the bridge below that mentioned other famous bridges and also had short movies on how the bridge was decided upon and also how it was made. They also had a themed room all about famous British people of the 60's. We took a elevator back down the London bridge and then visited the steam room with giant movie parts for generating the steam used for lifting up the bridge to allow large ships through.

We wanted to try to go to the Globe for a tour and walked along the river Thames to get there. We were also extremely hungry, we had wanted to eat at this restaurant called the anchor. We walked by on the way to the globe and it was a very expensive restaurant. When we finally got there we found out tours were closed for the day because there was a performance. We got to view the exhibit about the globe but did not go inside. One interesting thing about the building is the globe burnt down and what was rebuilt was a replica. Shows are still regularly performed though. 
We then grabbed a bite to eat at a shop called EAT. We both got steak with red wine meat pies there. Laura got mash potatoes and gravy with hers. They were delicious! Definitely a break that was needed. 
After, we headed to Abbey road where we first stopped at Wafflemeister. We got a "cream and cookies" waffle to share which was delicious. While on our way to abbey road Laura was stopped by another local asking if we knew where a particular road was!? We must look like we are locals.
Then we walked for a while (which we later found out we could have taken the metro) to Abbey road where we took the traditional Beatles picture. There were already people there and it was rush hour but that did not stop us from getting some amazing pictures and video. We then signed Josh and his dad's name on the wall of Abbey road Studio. 
From there we traveled home for a much needed break our legs were tired after a long day of walking.
After taking a break, we headed out to the arcade near the London Eye. We went to this Namco arcade that had a large number of games there! Since we had the London pass we were given 3 token each which allowed us to play three games! We played a race car game, a motor cycle game, and another racing game all for free which was fun! We had hoped to also go ice skating, but we ran out of time. Instead, we stopped by a shop and got some wine and strawberry soda. We got back to the room and decided to have some pasta, we had wine and the cheese we had gotten a few days before,too. 

Posted by travelspark 14:59 Archived in United Kingdom

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