Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 2 in London, The Orginal Bus Tour, Tower of London 4/1/2013

I started the day early, thanks to jet lag, I've been waking up around 5 in the morning.  Although I woke up early, I did not leave the hostel until around 8:30am.  I had to find my way around the hostel, where the showers were, how to use them, etc. I checked out the breakfast spread, did not see anything appetizing, white bread, jam and cereal.  I decided I would find food on my way to the bus tour.

I stopped at a shop that sells The Orignal Bus Tour tickets and talked to the woman who was standing outside, I had talked to a man the day before about bus tickets.  I told the woman I would come back and buy my ticket after I ate breakfast.  I also needed to get money out of the ATM, there are free cash machines all over London, these machines do not charge a fee for withdrawing money from your bank at home. I got some money, went to Pret A Manger for breakfast, and had their bacon, cheese, tomato, ham crossaint for breakfast.

When I finished eating, I went back to buy my bus ticket.  The woman said she had talked to the man I met yesterday and he said he had promised me a deal, the ticket for 26 GBP, she asked me why I had not told her, I did not remember.  I cannot remember what price the woman quoted me before breakfast, based on other venders I spoke to 2 GBP was a deal, I bought the ticket.  I spoke to the man and he said he remembered me from the day before, explained the tour and told me where to catch the bus.

I walked to the Marble Arch bus stop, near Hyde Park, got my bus ticket validated and waited for the T1 bus, the live English tour. I started the tour sitting on the open air top deck of the bus which all the vendors recommended. I did not last long on the top deck due to London's bitter cold, I moved to the inside of the bus which was not much warmer.  The tour guide pointed out the sights as we rode along, on of the first was the Aston Martin dealership and she made a reference to James Bond. We continued along the route, saw Margaret Thatcher's house, JK Rowlings flat, and then we approached Buckingham Palace. Our tour guide informed us the Queen was not at Buckingham Palace based on the flag flying, the Union Jack. The Royal Standard flies above Buckingham Palace when the Queen is home.

I stayed on the tour bus until we reached the stop for the London Eye, by then I was freezing.  I walked towards the London Eye and stopped at an arcade along the way to warm up.  I did not play any games in the arcarde, they did have an impressive selection, a multilevel arcade, one of the largest I have seen.  After looking around the arcade and warming up, I started out for the London Eye.  When I arrived the line was long to get a ticket and there was a twenty minute wait to get on the London Eye.  I was cold, I decided to wait until the next day, hope it was warmer and less of a crowd.

I walked across Westminster Bridge to catch the Thames cruise to the Tower of London, the cruise was included with the Original bus tour ticket. I bought a ticket to the Tower of London in advance, this was an attraction I did not want to miss.  I have seen the London tower in movies and BBC television series, I wanted to see it up close, now I had the chance.
From The London Tower April 1st & 2nd 2013

 The cruise was narrated and like the bus tour, the guide pointed out the major landmarks, this time I got to see them from a new perspective, the Thames River.  I cannot remember all of the hightlights, they pointed out the Tower bridge and explained it is techinically a ship with a Captain and a crew and not a bridge. As we arrvied at the London Tower, the guide pointed out the sign on the wall only visible from the river, which reads "Entry to Traitor's Gate."
From The London Tower April 1st & 2nd 2013

After the boat docked, I headed for the London Tower.  I was still freezing, but I had my ticket and wanted to see the London Tower.  I went inside and briefly joined a guided tour, had it been warmer, I would have stayed with the guided tour.  Instead, I broke away from the tour and started to explore the castle on my own.  I stayed with the tour long enough to hear the guide say the London Tower is none for torture and execution, but in reality few executions took place there, the Londodn Tower was a castle and that was its main use.  On the Original Tour Bus I later learned there were 7 executions in the London Tower, 5 were women, 3 Queens.  Most prisoners at the Lonon Tower were publicly executed on Tower Hill, across from the London Tower.

I walked through two of the Towers at Lonon Tower on my self-guided, the most memorable was the Bloody Tower, where prisoners were tortured.  The exhibit in in the Bloody Tower showed the different methhods of torture used against prisoners.  After the Blooy Tower I went to the  Fusilier Museuem, there was an interesting exhibit on Major John Andre a British spy during the American Revolution.  Since this was a British Museum the exhibit reflected the British perspective, discussing the American Rebels and the American War of Independence. The exhibit called Major Andre a British hero, the British flag the Americans captured is still displayed at West Point according to the museuem's exhibit.

After touring the Tower of London, I got back on the Original Tour bus, I got on the first bus that arrived, mainly because I wanted to get out of the cold.  The tour bus was the line with recorded audio for non-Englsih speakers.  I later changed buses after I warmed up and continued the tour, learning more interesting facts about Lonon.  After the tour, I returned to my hostel, and took an afternoon nap. I went back out later to get dinner at a Turkish restaurant. There are many Middle Eastern restaurants along the street where my hostel is located, the food is cheap and good, I have eaten at one daily.

After dinner I hung out in the Pub below our hostel and used my computer, I finally went to sleep around midnight.

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