London: Day Four

Today was the day that Holly booked tickets for the Tower of London, only to discover afterwards that they were actually vouchers for vouchers for tickets.  So, we took the toob down to Victoria Station to find the Golden Tours office so that we could redeem our vouchers for another voucher that would let us in the Tower.

Going to Victoria station was useful though, as we have to catch the train to Gatwick airport there on Saturday morning.  We scouted out the ticket booths for our Saturday train, then headed to the tours office.

We were third in line, but it took us about 20 minutes to talk to the staff at Golden Tours, there were two couples ahead of us attempting to book tours with incomplete information.  Note to people standing in front of me in line: Decide how many of you are going to go on a tour before getting in line, or, be able to make that decision in under 5 minutes.

We eventually got our vouchers, and then walked north to Buckingham Palace in time to see the changing of the guard.  This is very touristy, and there are literally thousands of other tourists crowding the place attempting to see the same thing, so we just stayed clear of the crowds and watched from afar.

We then walked north through Green Park, and caught the tube to Oxford Circus, as we'd been invited to Katrine's flat for lunch.  We were a bit early, so we milled around in the Oxford Circus Niketown for a bit, then walked to her place, still arriving a half-hour early.

We waited on the steps outside her building, and she turned up in a few minutes, with her arms full of the groceries she was going to turn into lunch for us.  She made us some excellent pitas, with many options for filling them.  Chicken, tuna, corn, lettuce, peppers, cheese, and a choice of dressings were all available, and Holly and I each stuffed ourselves on two pitas, then topped it off with a piece of carrot cake.

We also met Katrine's flatmate Robin, who quickly left to take an exam in his developmental psychology course.

After giving our food a bit of time to digest, Holly and I left Katrine's flat and set out for the Tower of London.  The Tower is rather expensive to visit, but we felt that it was worth the expense, but just barely.  It's rather touristy, but we arrived at the end of the day, so most of the crowd had dispersed.  Plan on needing 2-3 hours to see the whole Tower, especially if you want to take one of the tours from the Yeoman Warders (also known as Beefeaters).  We admired the ravens that are kept on the Tower grounds, then hiked up and down through the medieval towers, viewing various places people were imprisoned or beheadded, as well as the Crown Jewels of England.  The jewels were impressive, and the size of some of them is staggering.

We finished touring everything just as the tower closed for the evening, and we decided to take a boat west on the Thames, as we hadn't yet cruised this river, and it was only a little over 2 pounds each to do so.

As Holly was getting out my Nikon digital camera to take my picture in front of Tower Bridge, it dropped from her hand onto the cobblestones, which evoked a muffled cry from me.  She's been using my old 3.2 megapixel Canon digicam for the last 2 years, and the 5.1 megapixel Nikon has been "mine".  The Canon started having issues in France, so I let Holly use the Nikon, while I used my camcorder for everything.

Holly quickly picked up the Nikon, and it powered on and worked fine, though the corner of the case bears a nasty dent that has caused the metal case to pop outwards from the camera.  The case appears to unscrew, however, so I think I'll be able to bend it enough back that it will be flush again, and it'll just have a battle scar from our European trip.  Breaking both of our cameras in one trip would have been very disappointing, and replacing a camera in Britain would have been pretty painful with the current exchange rate.

Satisfied that the Nikon remained fully functional, we then boarded a boat east to the Savoy pier, though we didn't see as much along the river as we did in Paris, as this wasn't a dedicated sight-seeing boat like the other one.

After catching the tube back to our hotel, we rested for a bit, while Holly tried to find the nearest Pizza Hut, as we were both hungry for some good pan pizza.  She eventually located one a few blocks west of us in the arab neighborhood, and we walked down there to get a pizza to bring back to our hotel.

While eating, we watched a program called "Embarassing Illnesses" which was rather funny, though disgusting at times.  Holly didn't really enjoy the full-frame shot of one patients hemorrhoids, or another man's impressive athlete's foot infection.  They can show quite a bit more nudity on TV in the UK than they can in the US, though in this case, most of what you saw were things you would rather do without.  Holly noticed that the show was narrated by Ashley Jensen, an actress who we both enjoy quite a bit, along with Ricky Gervais, in the BBC/HBO show Extras.