Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day Nine - The conclusion of our adventure - Tower Hill

The final day of our trip.   I think we planned this one pretty much bang on for length of time.   While it has a been a wonderful adventure the kids are missing their brothers and friends and our feet and bones are reminding us we are ten years older than the last time we did this kind of trip with children.

We rise and make our way down to the hearty breakfast included at the Holiday Inn.   In addition to the breakfast we make ourselves a few peameal sandwich buns to take along the journey with us for the day.  (and two little packs of Nutella because it's just what kids need....always)

Off we go again into the tube.  It was interesting to note that children under 11 were free on the tube.  Last time we were in England we either missed that one or someone charged us anyway.   Liam and I enter the family gate together.  The other thing I noticed this time was how many staff were there from the tube just ushering people through without checking tickets.   I have a suspicion there is a lot of freeriding going on in the tube because even when one of our tickets suddenly stopped working they just waved us through anyway. 

Now we are on our way.  We exit at Tower Hill and make our way down to pick up our tickets pre ordered online.  I would recommend this as you go to the "groups" area to pick up your tickets and it's much shorter.   We arrive in time for the first tour of the day by the Beefeaters.

I love the Beefeaters.  I've never actually had a bad tour by one of them.  Lively and fun and always ready to fill a young child's head with a bit of trauma.   Don't worry, we'll forward the therapy bills back to the Tower.   HA!!

The Children listen in earnest as he regails them of the history of the Tower.  Traitor's Gate, The Bloody Tower, Anne Boleyn, William Wallace, the boy princes and the like.    We are reminded of the significance of the Raven's (once used as messengers and now by superstition a minimum of 8 are kept on site at all times so the monarchy doesn't fall).   Our guide escorts us to the Chapel, which is a thrill for me as I've never visited the chapel before where Anne Boleyn, and Sir Thomas More are buried. (no photos were allowed there sorry....sometimes I cheat and sneak a photo but after an experience with a rather uptight guide at WB studios in Los Angeles I watch my p's and q's now. (because that blurry image I accidentally took of the floor was some major copyright infringement...seriously....I digress, back to the story...I'm not bitter...heh...)

Before going further I actually have to show this picture.  Liam and Cass had to share a bed in London.  They were less than amused with this prospect.  Girl cooties and boy cooties ya know.  anyhow.   Liam had to stay as far away from his sister as possible.  So far in fact he used his suitcase as a pillow .  How he didn't roll right off is beyond me

We begin our tour

 The Ravens

Explaining to the crowd beheadings....YAY!!

Where last time we visited with their siblings the old block is gone and replaced with a glass monument marking the spot of the beheadings.  Not all, most occured at Tower Hill...the special ones were here.

 The raven is attacking the garbage to the delight of kids.

 Tower Bridge in the background.  I think this is the first time I've ever been to London and not see the bridge go up.  I've been told it's rare to see it actually open but every time I have....until now.

Heading into the Crown Jewels exhibit.  I have to admit, it's been reworked a bit and we enjoyed it far more this time

In the Bloody Tower, the princes room

 About the same age as the Princes

Off with your head

The Chapel

Residences of the Beefeaters

Entrance to the Chapel

Prisoner's grafitti

Ugly monkies made of chicken wire

Boys and guns.  I have this exact photo with his older brother from our last visit

Original Roman Walls

The White Tower

They've seen the photos from our first trip and giggled away.  When faced with this particular armour from Henry V111 in real life had them giggling like crazy

Daddy messing with them now

Norman Fireplace

The exhibits inside the White Tower are significantly different than our last trip.  Much less armour and weaponry on display

The Chapel inside

This was neat.  Dragon made of armour

The kids were allowed to touch different weapons this time so that was interesting

Channeling her inner Catniss Everdeen. (The Hunger Games)

I didn't notice when I took this but laughed after the fact and really wished Cassy had held the dagger to Henry's armour location.  Yes...I'm 12 too!

We are walking the ramparts now.  It was great

We found the scaled down armoury.  Liam is thrilled

Because they have to giggle yet again

Trying on metal hats

We went into the creatures display.   Yes Liam...sadly Child protective services would come after us if we did this, but I love that he crawled in!!

 Where the beefeaters live

Finally as we make our way out past Traitor's Gate

Yet another kind tourist offered to take our photo

Where visitors would enter the Tower

The obligatory walk across Tower Bridge

The HMS Belfast.  Our older children toured the ship our last visit and were delighted a troop of Scouts was spending the night (they were both in Scouts)

We didn't have time to tour it much to the disappointment of Liam

The Skyline has certainly changed in 10 years

My babies

We head back to the hotel and Liam isn't feeling well suddenly with a sore tummy.  Cassy and walk over to Piccadilly Square to pick up the mandatory souvineers

Again, getting ready for the Jubilee

At the overpriced ridiculous souvineer shop

After a good nights sleep, another hearty breakfast we took a taxi to Gatwick airport, where we are waiting for our flight home.  

Our flight home was a riot.  After requesting a couple of people leave the seats we were ticketed for (and they were none to happy to see children sitting in premium seats let me tell you), we settled in for a wonderful flight home.  I said it at the beginning but I must reiterate.  The extra couple of hundred dollars for the Club Class seats are so worth it.   Our dedicated cabin staff coming home was exceptional.   Do you hear that Air Canada...a Budget airline that I paid a third of the cost of your ticket to was a billion times better service wise).   
He fell in love with the children who were on their best behavior and spoiled them with food and treats throughout the flight (including making them his own version of Fanta when he didn't have orange pop)   I swear I've never eaten so much on a flight and it seemed he was constantly bringing out one delicious treat after another plus delicious meals.    The kids concluded their flight feeling like royalty.   

We took a limosine home to end it on a perfect note and was welcomed home by one very lonely teenage boy who missed his parents and even his noisy siblings.

I have so many trips to catch up on and write about but wanted to do this one while it was fresh.  I have Italy, Portugal, San Francisco, LA, and some shorter treks to write about as well.  Next trip?  A bucket list item.  Golfing in Hawaii in October.   (If I can lose that quit smoking weight I gained I want to learn to surf as well)

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