Sunday, June 18, 2017

England Part Five- LONDON day 2

We were up and ready to roll for our first morning in London. The hotel provided full breakfast and you would have thought we never feed our kids. It was a buffet and they filled up every morning on cereal, pancakes, and pain au chocolat. You know, carbs, the only food group. 
We stayed just a few short blocks from the Tower of London. It was one thing we knew for certain we wanted to do in London.
I had visited years ago with Alex and still vividly remember seeing the crown jewels. I knew these princess loving girls would like that, and the tower has so much more to offer.
We read a bit of the history before but learned so much during our visit. The tower guards - Beefeaters, or Yeoman warders still protect the castle today.
They are retired military personnel that are chosen to be guards and they get to LIVE IN THE TOWER!! Well, not up in the tower but on the property in the most adorable flats.
What a day! Bright and beautiful with a view of the bridge. It doesn't get much better than that!
Our two Yeowomen with the Yeomen.
Ahhh the crown jewels. You can't take photos inside but we were all appropriately impressed. We got to see the Queens Crown which she wears for the coronation and opening of Parliament (except for this year which is really annoying because it was supposed to be during our visit).
It is such a dichotomy walking the halls of the tower and then looking out the window to the modern city and buildings all around. You can almost imagine while you're inside how it might have been 100's of years ago.
These sisters just taking a break to look at a display. I mean come on, you can't make this up. They just do this stuff on their own. Don't worry, they fight plenty too.
These are the homes of the Beefeaters. Man, I really messed up not marrying a military man. I'm pretty sure it's really hard to get a gig as a Beefeater.
This is my big and little Beefeater.
We got a rare sighting, the Tower Bridge was going up to let a boat through as we were watching.
We climbed the spiral steps up to the bloody tower. This spot had a big impact on Lily. At the top of the tower is a room explaining the story of two young Princes who at age 8 and 12 were locked away in the tower by their Uncle Richard who was to be King in their place until they came of age. Well, Richard enjoyed being King and the two young Princes were never to be seen again after the Tower. Two hundred years later the remains of two young boys were found in a chest under the steps in the tower and are believed to be the Princes. I can guarantee if you ask about the Tower of London Lily will recount that whole story to you!
Once we'd had our fill of the Tower and our fill of lunch we decided to book a ticket on the double decker tour bus. We figured it would be a good way to see lots of the sights while save us some walking. We had to sit up top of course in the hot sun to get the full experience. At least a breeze helped a bit.
We rode through the city streets taking in all the major sights. Big Ben! House of Parliament! Westminster Abbey! The whole city was decked out in the Union Jack for the opening of Parliament.

We had a live tour guide on the bus to point out important locations and answer any questions. We decided to ride for a while to rest our weary legs and head towards Buckingham palace. We would work our way back on foot and do some more stops later. I'm not sure the girls were too overwhelmed with the palace. I have to say it is surrounded by concrete and fence packed with tourists so it loses some of it's majesty without rolling green lawns. We looked at the windows for the Queen but she did not appear. Many of the windows were open though so she must have needed a breeze too. The Royal family had been out on the balcony to wave at the crowds just days before but we missed it!!
We decided to head out on foot through the shade of St. James park down the mall in front of the palace. A daily dose of ice cream was calling our names. Lily got her soft serve with a flake.
Little legs needed some help so Daddy and Grampy took turns giving her a lift down the Mall.
We made it to the end of the Mall to Trafalgar square. The girls were really excited to see the Lions because in their book Katie in London the Lion comes to life and gives her a tour all over London on his back. We did not experience the Lion coming to life. Perhaps he was too hot and tired. They did get to sit on his lap and climb all over him.
We managed the art of the photobomb. No I don't think this couple was getting engaged although it looks a bit serious.

It was time for a little afternoon delight. We found a pub on our way back to the river front and stopped for a cool drink. These are a few of Alex's favorite things....although he did not partake those sausage rolls look pretty scrumptious!
We made it back to Big Ben in time for a few selfies on our way to the boat. We had a river boat ride as part of our double decker bus ticket and we thought it would be nice to take it at dusk back towards our hotel.
Once on the boat we had great views from up on the top deck.
The London Eye. We did not ride it this trip since we did it a few years ago and it can have quite long queues.
We got a little selfie crazy! It was a good way to keep everyone happy after a long day. We tracked all our steps and we did 6 miles on foot!!
Lily and Gemma got into the photo taking too! There were LOTS of pictures from that boat ride.
It took us up the river to the Tower Bridge at the perfect time of day for photos. It looks so majestic in the golden hour with a red bus on the bridge.
Then we hopped off right near the Tower and our hotel. We still needed dinner so we found a little Italian place and these girls were still going strong. They managed to have enough energy to run and skip all over well past bedtime. 

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