Keep Calm And Carry On

Did you know that saying originated in Great Britain? This famous saying was used on a propaganda poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of a Nazi invasion of the UK. The more you know..

I can safely say that London is a fascinating city that really is the birthplace of almost all of our original American culture. Sure, we are very different than them in 2013, but America is so young (225 years old) once compared to London's 2,000 year old history.

1/3/13 I resumed my tour today promptly at 8:30 am, I have been trying so hard to not waste a moment of my precious time here. Starting back in Trafalgar Square, I learned that this is the center most point in the whole city; and is also from where all distances are measured. I scooted past the entrance gates to Buckingham Palace but after again seeing an insanely large crowd, I decided my time was better spent elsewhere. I popped by both Scotland Yard and Mi5 (where James Bond "works") before checking out Whitehall Palace and St. James Place.

My double decker bus tour also took me by Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye, and Parliament Square again, so I was able to get some cool scenic pictures again. Once it was lunch time I grabbed a odd but delightfully tasty cranberry, orange sliced and turkey breast sandwich and strolled through the gardens of Hyde Park and ended up at Speakers Corner. What is Speakers' Corner, you ask? Speakers' Corner is an area where open-air public speaking, debate and discussion are allowed. Speakers there may speak on any subject, at any decibel, and with signs. It was pretty quiet compared to most days, apparently all of the doomsayers had gone home back in December. However, there where still a few wackos yelling about the War on Iraq, Religion, and the new Diet Pepsi formula. Although it didn't make for a peaceful, solitary Lunch, it was highly entertaining!

Sidenote: The English looooove their monuments and statues. On almost every corner there is a statue of somebody, something, or commemorating an event of some kind. There is even a statue that honors the builders of all the other statues! Whoa, overkill. Also, they call fries "chips" and they prefer vinegar and mayonnaise on their fries, never ketchup. I tried it, it tasted like dirt.

After that, I hopped back on my bus and road on the Tower Bridge (the famous one) and went past the Glass Shard. This is the tallest building in the UK, and on a clear day, you can actually see to France. I'll admit, being on an open air bus in the winter time was pretty damn cold, and I struggled a little towards the end of my day. Please note the twice wrapped scarf around my head and the dis colored purple and orange tinged hands!

Nothing warms you up like alcohol, so I took a drink inside Ye Old Cock Tavern. This pub has been frequented by Samuel Pepys, Alfred Tennyson and Charles Dickens.

My next stop was the incredible Tower of London. The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as a royal residence, an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. First constructed in 1078, this is the oldest complete surviving structure in all of London.

Prisoners and Executions The Tower housed some of the most notable characters in English history, but none as famous as those associated with the oft-married Henry VIII. Henry sent both his second wife, Anne Boleyn, and fifth wife, Katherine Howard, to the Tower. After convictions for treason and adultery, Anne and Katherine were beheaded, as both are entombed in the Chapel Royal. They share this tomb with Sir Thomas More, also sent to the Tower by Henry, and Lady Jane Grey, the 9-day queen deposed and executed by Henry’s daughter, Mary Tudor, among many others. Guy Fawkes was also tortured here for the Gun Powder plot to blow up Parliament.

As gruesome as this place is, it was also utterly fascinating and I spent hours here! It is a huge complex, each building housed a fascinating exhibit and story, and I carefully made my way through each spot. Unfortunately, pictures are also not allowed in many spots here, so I am not able to share the photographic details of this. :( It was very sad to learn so many souls never left this place, simply because they were disliked. I stood in the very places where people heard "Off with your head!"

My macabre afternoon extended when I opted to take a walking tour following the footsteps of The worlds most famous serial killer, Jack the Ripper. We retraced the locations where his 5 victims met their demise in 1888 Whitechapel neighborhood of the East End, London. The murderous tale was very interesting, as they never caught the guy, and it was very creepy to stand in the same places. I had to shake off my chill with another pint at Ten Bells, the meeting spot where he picked up of his victims. The pub remains almost unchanged, and retains almost entirely all of its 1888 "charm"...

... I made need a therapist.

One thing i will not miss is the confusing London Tube or London Underground. Below is a picture of one single compartment, crazy packed.

It was time for me to end my trip to London, and I had the best time here. 4 days was not nearly long enough to spend here, and I know I will return someday. Off to find me lucky charms in Dublin, Ireland!

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