Then across the bridge to Tower of London
. I had seriously under-estimated what this was and very impressed in the end - i was thinking dungeon's and a tower, but nooooo it is actually the original castle of William the Conquerer in 1066 and adapted & re-constructed many times by pretty much every monarch since. Fascinating stuff; especially the Crown Jewels (no photos allowed), torture rooms, beheading location, inscriptions/graffiti on the walls from all the prisoners, the moat which is now drained and basically a lawn. Spent a lot longer here than anticipated, but well worth it. The Jewels were fascinating, but way overly commercialised (you view them from a horizontal escalator!) and sooooo many people. tourists everywhere. I wonder what Henry 8th would think if he saw this place now. So much history, and where people were murdered/tortured/beheaded there are now ice cream licking fat tourists with cameras around their necks posing in front of the place that people had their heads chopped off or imprisoned for years. Totally bizarre in my mind when there is still a Sovereign reigning over this Kingdom and it is still a castle with full status. I don't think u should commercialise history until it is truely history. But who am i to talk - i paid £17 to get in the gates. But i am respectful of what this place is, i mean Elizabeth I was imprisoned here to stop her being Queen because of her religion. Being able to stand in the same place that this happened is surreal.
Kind of disappointing is that all major attractions are under refurb or renovations
. They are trying to get everything looking top notch for the 2012 London Olympics. It's not that obvious, but eveything i have been to has scaffolding and painting going on. Plus what u don't see in the photos is that there is this mesh over pretty much all major public buildings or the carvings at least. I have since realised this is to keep the birds off...so the pigeons don't nest or poo everywhere. Smart idea, but not very appealing. Even on the front of Buckingham Palace there is mesh over the main stone carving.
From the Tower, i headed across to the Great Fire of London (1666) Monument designed by Sir Christopher Wren and commissioned by King Charles II. It was £1 extra with the Tower Bridge tour, otherwise i probably wouldn't have bothered. Not that exciting, but very historic and symbolically powerful. Climb to the top (311 friggin steps later) u see across the London city scapes and realise that Buck Palace etc is not the centre of London but more like Peppermint Grove to Perth city. No need to go to the gym after climbing up that. Plus a cheap alternate to the London Eye.
Heading back to the tube a homeless man asked me to buy him dinner - i might not have a dinner partner, but seriously, i am not that desperate. Trains are really time efficient, but i don't see much compared to bussing it
. Funny thing tho - another non-english speaking tourist asked me for directions on the tube platform and...i was able to help him!!! Day 2 people and i am like a local. Gave me a huge confidence boost.
Tonight, I was meant to be attending the Michael Jackson 'This is it' concert at the O2 Arena. I had tix booked since April. Then he died in June. It was meant to be a major highlight of my trip. So, in its place i booked a ticket for 'Thriller Live' - a West End production using MJ songs from his entire catologue (inc Jackson 5) in a sorta tribute performance. It was no where near as energetic or perfect as the real man, but still a good show with excellent dancing and singing and i was 4th row. However, a chick sang a lot of the songs which didn't really fit my idea of MJ tribute i.e. a female singing 'The Way You Make Me Feel' doesn't really gel with me and hardly convincing.
The show was just up from Picadilly Stn. The photo doesn't do it justice cause it was amazing. 1st time that i have felt like i am in another country. Something totally unlike Oz. People everywhere at 11pm and i felt totally safe. Although, it seems street drinking is ok here and there were a few drunks in the street, but hey...if i was travelling with a group, i probably would be one of those drunks :-)
Long blog entry, but it was a big day that resulted in red sore feet and a flat camera battery.
Today I headed on the tube from Kings Cross Stn to what I have always thought was called London Bridge, but is in fact Tower Bridge. I only realised this when getting off the London Bridge Stn and wondering why the bridge was so far away. That thing about 'london bridge is falling down' relates to a whole other bridge that did in fact fall down and was demolished. They built Tower Bridge to overcome traffic congestion and it opened in 1894 (i thought it was much older). So yeah, lots of history lessons today. The bridge itself is cool. Did a bridge tour enjoying the full sunshine looking over the disgustingly degraded drain that is the River Thames. The bridge was painted blue for the Queen's silver jubilee and still remains that colour scheme. Whipped thru the Engine Room which is where the story of how the draw-bridge actually works - moreso for an engineer to enjoy, not enviro Ross (it was part of the self guided tour). Later on i actually saw the bridge get raised for a passing boat - cool.