We got a late start this morning, but got to the Tower of London around 11:45 and decided to take a guided “Yeoman” tour at noon. We were met by Simon, a ruddy-faced, bearded Beefeater with a keenly British sense of humor. Funniest tour I’ve ever taken, hands down. For an hour, we listened to the history of the Tower of London, which isn’t just a tower, just so you know. Oh, no, it is so much more—it’s like a whole compound. How I didn’t realize this, I’m not sure, but I always just pictured one tour. There are like 20 towers at the Tower of London, including the Bloody Tower, where supposedly two boy princes disappeared (2 bodies matching the ages of the boys were discovered later, hidden under the stairs of the White Tower—technically it’s not scientifically proven who killed them or that it was indeed them, but evidence points to Richard III in the Bloody Tower with the candlestick, or somesuch).

The Crown Jewels were blinged OUT. Seriously. So many diamonds and gold and rubies and and and it was nuts. Their royal dishes were all gold. They had a vat of PURE gold that could hold 144 bottles of wine. Also, there was lots of armor. No, really, lots.

We also got a chance to see something that doesn’t happen regularly at the Tower—a stage combat class from the University of Essex did a little scene in Elizabethan garb. Everyone basically ended up dead, but it was fun to watch them practice dueling!

Our afternoon-long expedition with the Tower came to a close and we strolled over the London Bridge. It happened that we also caught the bridge lifting—reportedly good luck—and also got to see a group of cyclists who ride the gigantic front-wheeled bikes from days of yore pedal across the London Bridge, escorted by police.

A very successful Tower day, if I do say so myself.