Sitting down in the mornings, enjoying breakfast in our jammies, while perusing the London Pass booklet, allows us the chance to loosely plan our days. Today, we thought that it would be a good idea to utilize the Hop On/Hop Off bus tour, to help familiarize ourselves better, with London.
Riding these buses with an audio tour gives you a good sense of the city you are in, and it also is a great way to get from place to place. What you have to be careful of, is spending too much time in one place, and not being able to utilize the rest of the tour.
Since there was a stop right near Hyde Park, which is right near our apartment, we hit the boulangerie to pick up lunch and a snack to "take way", and headed over to the "pick-up" area. It was very convenient, with no pushing and shoving like we experienced in Rome.
We were able to get a seat on the top of the bus, and plugged in our headphones; I do not know what it is about riding these buses, but I just love being up above the traffic with the wind blowing my hair! lol Of course, you do have to watch out for low hanging branches and leaves.
I do not think I would ever tire of all of the old buildings and statues, the towers and steeples, the clock faces that are everywhere, the balconies with draping flowers and all of the very cool pubs, with all of the flowers outside. We eventually realized that many of these pubs were part of a chain; Fuller's. While they looked absolutely adorable on the outside, what we found was that while the decor on the inside was also very cute, the food was all the same!
We decided that we liked the independently owner pubs and diners, much better. This however, did not keep me from taking many photos of their fabulous signage, and over-spilling flower arrangements.
Since we had ridden half-way around the bus tour, we decided to "hop off" and go to the Tower Castle and the Tower Bridge. The Tower Castle is what I would consider, a "typical Medieval Castle", built as a fortress that was not only a royal palace, but a prison, as well.
They had re-enactments throughout the day, and after speaking to one of the knights, I found out that the armor that he wore, was not only very hot, but very heavy, too. It seems to me a common thread in working in a "royal" capacity in London; you are going to be hot and miserable! lol
We enjoyed walking through the castle where kings not only slept, but were murdered, as well. The room that housed the knights, and their horses' armor was fascinating and I wondered what the dragon's purpose had been. (?) We skipped seeing the crown jewels, as the line was WAY to long and decided to head over to the Tower Bridge.
Seeing the Tower Bridge, up close and personal, helps me to realize why so many people think that it is the "London Bridge". It is an amazing bridge that was built well over one hundred years ago and is considered to be one of the most recognizable structures in the world. It is an engineering marvel and a stunning site.
So, of course, I wanted to go inside! The line wasn't too long, but it was in the sun; I went to the front of the line, and talked to the "person in charge": and explained my situation. He graciously allowed me to sit inside, where it was cool, while Joe continued to work his way up to the entrance to the tower. This only took about ten minutes.
We rode the elevator to the top, and were amazed by the views. It was beautiful and you could see both up and down the river. We listened to the video presentation of how the bridge was built, maintained and utilized and the went to walk on the glass walkway. We found that the second walkway was much less crowded and allowed us to take as many silly photos as we chose, without being in the way, or stepped on.
I must admit that walking across the glass, seeing down into the river was a little freaky, but lying on the glass, and seeing the river down below, in the mirror above, wasn't quite as bad. The Tower Bridge is beautiful, and in my opinion, worth going to see!
After we left the tower and the glass walkway, we went to the engine room, which was probably even more entertaining and impressive that the tower itself. The machinery used to operate the drawbridge was massive and beautifully restored and maintained. I just loved seeing all of that gigantic machinery; I was impressed! So much better that seeing crown jewels! lol
After we left the Tower Bridge, we hopped back on the bus to finish the tour. This was a relief as this activity did not involve walking! Probably one of the main reasons I enjoy these bus tours as much as I do! You get to see, and hear about all of the historic building, monuments and churches, without having to walk!
Eventually, we ended up on the other side of London, and at the end of the bus tour, that we were on. They told us that there would be another bus coming (sound familiar), in about fifteen minutes, but since we had taken the loop almost all of the way around, we decided to check out the area, that we were in.
We were right at the St. Pancras Railway Station, which is at King's Cross, which is where my sweet, little old lady was staying; I wondered if she got where she was headed and hoped that her concert and tea went as she had planned.
The station is massive in size, and an architectural masterpiece! We walked through the streets surrounding the station and found an outdoor market, which we enjoyed seeing the wares, that were being peddled.
It was so weird, as they felt like two completely different establishments, yet they really were a single establishment, which felt like two different and unique restaurants. This fish and chips here were not nearly as good as the ones we had at an independently owned pub. This was a Fuller's!
Since I was starting to drag, we decided to find the tube and head "home". As usual, this was not difficult to do; I just love how you can hop from place to place, with such ease.
All we had to do now, was to hobble back to the tube, hop off at our stop, grab some breakfast for the morning and collapse!
Another great day, on the trip of a lifetime; how blessed am I?