Tuesday, September 3, 2019

London & Paris 2019 - Day 2 (9/2/2019) - Tower of London

The tour package included a morning coach tour of the city this morning, with a departure time of 8:05am.  This meant an early wake-up in order to get (included) breakfast a the restaurant beforehand.  I had slept like a log the night before, but could have used a couple hours more.  We were down in restaurant (in body, at least) a bit after 7am, which is roughly the time I would normally be snoozing my weekday alarm for the first time.  The breakfast buffet had a pretty large selection (though only one Obi-approved vegetarian item - some hash brown wedges that were actually pretty good), and I was able to make do without issue.  After eating we made our way to the hotel entrance to meet the group.

The driving tour was led by a local guide named Robert, who would also be our guide for he optional excursion in the afternoon (though we had a different driver each trip out).  He narrated us through Westminster and City of London, with our first picture stop (~20 minutes) at the gates of Buckingham Palace.  We then drove around some more and made our way to St. Paul's Cathedral for a longer (30+ minutes) stop.  After that they took us to the London Eye, where the group split into two capsules (one with Robert and one with Doug - we were with Robert) for a "flight" around the ferris wheel, where we were served a glass of champagne (or water for the non-drinkers like me).  The morning tour ended there at around 11:30.

We had about 1.5 hours before we were to meet for our selected optional (i.e., additional cost) excursion to the Tower of London.  We walked along the south bank of the river to the Pret a Manger next to the Westminster Bridge, where I grabbed a small bite for lunch (Mom wasn't hungry).  We then continued the short walk back to the hotel so that we could grab a quick rest.

We were on our way out the door again at 1pm, with about 20 of the 36 on the tour choosing this excursion.  Another couple that we met was a husband and wife from Granite City, IL, just across the Mississippi River from my hometown of St. Louis, MO.  It turned out that the woman had also worked at Boeing (after a stint in the Air Force), having retired from there 3 years ago.  There was also a mother-daughter pair from Knoxville, TN, though (like me and my mom) the daughter was living in another state (South Carolina).

Anyway, Robert and the new driver took us to the Tower of London, where he showed us around for a bit before leaving us at the entrance to the Crown Jewels.  After walking through that exhibit, we had about an hour to explore by ourselves before meeting up with the group at 4pm back at the welcome center.  During this time we walk through the first floor of the armory in the White Tower, watched part of an acting performance, went down into the torture prison, and took a couple of breaks to relax.  But we also experienced what was the highlight of the day for my mom - a fortuitous meeting with one of only two women to ever have been members of the Beefeaters (the ceremonial guard of the Tower of London; officially, the Yeomen Warders).

We met back up with the rest of the group on time, and we were driven back to the hotel.  We took a couple of hours to rest (with Ma taking a nap), and then headed out for dinner.  We ate at an Italian restaurant nearby called La Cucina Di Mamma.  Although the garlic bread was weird and not very good (it was basically a pizza crust cooked with garlic), the veggie lasagna was quite tasty.  After dinner we walked back to the hotel and called it a night.


Pictures: https://photos.app.goo.gl/hk6N4X5QW6gkSLxP9

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