European Adventure Day 5: Marching Like Soldiers!

Missed an earlier chapter or need a recap?

Landed here because you searched for an image of St. Edward’s Crown and/or the Sovereign Sceptre? Click here to go to scans of postcards I purchased at the Tower of London since you can’t take pics inside. Before you post the pics on your site, consider (a) crediting the Tower of London, (b) linking to the images here or (c) both. Thanks.

Ah, London. Land of the obvious. “Look right” on the pavement. Arrows for pedestrians. Restaurants named “Eat.” And tourists at the Changing the Guard Ceremony who say things like, “Look at the soldiers. They’re marching like soldiers!” with great glee.

We made it to the palace for the guard thing. Penny snagged a spot for us at the front right of the palace while I set off for 10 Downing Street to grab a photo. Guard change start at 11:30. We were there by 10:15 – plenty of time to check in with Gordon Brown. Or so I thought until I got a text from Penny at around 10:30 saying she couldn’t hold my spot much longer. Oh well, Gordon, next time. I made it back to the palace, and we settled in for the wait.

Growing crowd

The people next to us had checked out of their hotel and had all their luggage there. The crowds continued to grow and I was happy I never saw the Prime Minister’s house.

Fancy guy walking

We didn’t have the best view, but the band played its official stuff in front of us (shaky video below). And fancy guy walked over quite often. Penny had a slightly better angle than I did and helpfully narrated the parts I couldn’t see. “Fancy guy is walking up. Fancy guy is backing up. Two soldiers walking. Two soldiers backing up. Fancy guy is walking. Fancy guy is—“ You get the idea.

The most intriguing part of the 40-minute ceremony was when the band (by now out of sight at the front left of the palace) struck up the theme to Pirates of the Caribbean while the rest of the guard handed over keys. Pirates was followed by a medley from Jesus Christ Superstar, Eleanor Rigby and, finally, the full theme to Doctor Who. A fun geeky moment for me.

Tired of being leaned on and pushed into the fence, Penny and I left as the ceremony wrapped up. Given the transportation clogs, we didn’t want to be with the hundreds of people who would head for the bus at the same time. The number 9 and number 15 buses delivered us to the Tower of London.

Henry VIII's protection
Tower Green

We toured the Medieval Palace before lunch at the Clusterfuck Café. We continued around the grounds to the armor collection in the White Tower and the displays in Bloody Tower.

We ended by Tower Green where a rain-catching sculpture marked where Anne Boleyn and others may have been executed. A lot of uncertainty at the Tower. This set of armor made last year resembles armor Charles II may have worn. This sword could be something like a sword Henry II could have passed by.

Boleyn is buried at the chapel on the grounds, along with other notables. The only way into the chapel is with a yeoman warder your so I joined one while Penny secured places in the line to view the crown jewels.

The yeoman warder was funny, and I’d recommend the full tour as something we may have liked if we had done a full tour.

St. Edward's Crown (scan of card from Tower of London)
Sovereign's Sceptre (scan of card from Tower of London)

We did see the jewels. The line moved quickly, with some nice crowd control by videos of Queen Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation. The crowns were pretty spectacular. To get to them you entered through a huge vault door that pretty much told me I had no chance of sneaking out a tiara or two. The crown jewels themselves are in a series of glass cases between two moving sidewalks, no lollygagging here. We rode down one side of the display and then found a small platform from which we could stand and just look at the other side more closely.

Afterward we left the Tower and headed to the Thames for photos of Tower Bridge.

A very crowded number 15 bus took us back to Trafalgar Square, and we walked back to the hotel rather than waiting for an overflowing number 9. I finished a spectacularly bad book. Penny read. We both napped before heading to Leicester Square for an Easter dinner at a spaghetti place. The food was yummy, but, once again, Penny and I felt incredibly full when we finished.

We got back to our hotel around midnight and packed for our return flight tomorrow. Alas, no upgrades available, so I’ll be enjoying a coach seat while Penny enjoys first class. Sigh.

It’s been a fun trip. Rain, snow, wind, phlegm and all. Today’s weather was great, and I’ve had a really good time with Penny. Would I come back to London? Maybe. I feel I hit the high points of the city this time. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of it again or finding the little places I missed.

Next trip is Mexico in July. Once again, I’ll be riding coach while my travel companions relax in luxury up front. I may have to catch another cold in order to snore loudly as retribution.


4 thoughts on “European Adventure Day 5: Marching Like Soldiers!

  1. The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!

    HA HA HA HA!!! The clusterfuck cafe!! I love it! Well, I love the name…hated the place!

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