25.10.07

Tower of London

Today I decided to visit the Tower of London. I wasn't sure, as has been the norm this week, what I wanted to do but decided what the heck, I'll go there. My last outing was on Tuesday to a series of places offering free admission; today was not like that. I went to the Tower of London and its grounds for a whopping £16 entry fee (I was informed the other day it was only £13.50 a year or so ago) as well as a tour around the Tower Bridge exhibition for another £6.

The Tower of London is famous for its prisoners over the years, the beheading of (and reported haunting by) Anne Boleyn (second wife of Henry VIII) and of course its use as a fortress in times gone by. It's frankly amazing to realize you're in a place which has stood (in some form or another) for the better part of 800 years. People in Canada, even eastern Canada with its heritage, consider things a century old to be very old. Those in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and other such places have structures dating back maybe a few centuries... but nothing like this. Most of a millennium has passed by the walls of this famous landmark, it withstood attacks over the years including devastating ones such as the London Blitz of World War II, and there it still stands. It's just awe-inspiring really.

Of course being a 13th century structure it means tall people simply do not fit. If I wasn't ducking, I was carefully watching my feet on the narrow spiral staircases so I didn't slip. As advantageous as being tall can be, it's a severe detriment in places such as that.

I did, of course, snap many pictures along the way, but of course the best bits such as the area housing the Crown Jewels forbade photography, so I couldn't get any shots of the cool crowns, jewels, sceptres and so on adorning Jewel House. I had one request before I left Canada specifically asking me to take such photos, but that person will have to be disappointed as I wasn't about to risk having my camera confiscated or something.

Anyhow, after touring around the grounds, I wandered over to Tower Bridge and went on the tour there. The sights there are minimal at best, but I was far more interested in the history and architecture than anything else - along with the view, of course. The bridge was 16 years in the making between the time it was decided such a bridge was needed and the time it was built, and for a Victorian era work it certainly has the feel of something more medieval. The tour basically includes a couple historical videos, access to the elevated footpaths and a tour of the old coal/steam-powered engine room for operating the elevated roadway.

Pictures will soon be posted, and I've got more than a few shots of The Egg in there as well, aka city hall. Today was a VERY gloomy, gray, misty, foggy kind of day, the first full-on such day since I arrived. It's the kind of day which makes you love or hate London and makes it easy to realize why a lot of Britons visit Spain for some sun.

Tonight will be a night in methinks, probably enjoying the 4-pack of Tetley's Bitter I bought last night on a shopping trip at the market a few minutes walk south of here. I might even try to fight with the washing machine again, or at least hopefully ask someone (when someone gets back here) how to properly operate it so I can get some laundry done.

Tomorrow will be Apple day. It's the release of the new Mac OS X version, dubbed Leopard, and this week also has the Mac Live Expo at Kensington Olympia hall. I snagged a free pass to the expo a few weeks back so I think I shall use it and see what's what and how it compares to something like MacWorld Expo in San Francisco, the granddaddy of all Mac expos. I already know it'll greatly pale in comparison, especially since Apple has no formal presence there, but it might be a fun afternoon nonetheless. After that I'll head to the Apple Store on Regent St. around dinnertime for the formal release of Leopard at 6pm. I've not decided if I'll buy a copy, especially since it's £85 (vs. $129 CAD), but I want to be there for the hoopla more than anything.

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