Friday, April 30, 2010

London Day 2; Tower of London, River Thames, London Bridge, Crown Jewels,Parliment and Big Ben

"Look Kids! Big Ben!"

We purchased hop on hop off bus tickets for 2 days of touring around London. On the first day, we hit the London Bridge, passed by Parliament and Big Ben the clock tower countless times. We visited the National Portrait Gallery, where we could have spent another day or two simply wandering the halls. Afterwards, had a picnic lunch in Trafalgar square. We toured the Tower of London where we viewed the Crown Jewels. Crossed the Thames via a boat ride, crossed the London Bridge via the bus, and by the end of the day, felt like we were crossing our eyes from all the sightseeing! Here’s a snippet, of all that we passed by.

"hey! there's Big Ben again!"

This Beefeater was incredibly kind, with a beaming smile. She'd just taken at least 50 some photographs with a large crowd of Italian seniors, and took a moment for those of us who were in the back of the crowd. A little research after we got home led us to realize that she is the first female Beefeater. I wish we had known when we were standing there. We would have congratulated her at least.

....In case you're wondering, a beefeater is a member of the Yeoman Warders, a ceremonial guard which oversees the Tower of London in England. Technically, the polite term is “Yeoman Warder,” although most people know the members of the iconic guard by their nickname. In order to serve as a Yeoman Warder, an applicant must have 22 years of service in the British armed forces, along with awards for distinction and good conduct. The beefeaters were founded in 1485 under the reign of Henry VII. They are charged with the duty of guarding prisoners in the Tower of London, along with supervising the safety of the Crown Jewels. The modern Yeoman Warders also offer information and tours to visitors, and they care for the ravens which are housed at the Tower of London. Tourists readily identify the beefeaters by their distinctive uniforms, which are modeled on those used by the Yeoman Warders in the Tudor era.

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