God save the Queen!
Ha! Before I went to China and Spain and Estonia and all the other random places I’ve been posting about, I visited London for a week. My original plan was to head there from Tuesday-Friday to hang out and visit two of my favoritest people in this big wide world, Francine and Oneika. They somehow convinced me to stay for their joint birthday party on Saturday and then I got talked into coming a little earlier to go to the Notting Hill Carnival.
My 4 day stay became 8 days. I’m so glad I stuck around as long as I did! I totally fell in love with the city. Seba and I had visited London before, and we liked it, but weren’t completely enamored. Now I could even see myself living there. We’ll see where the wind blows me
Though, I will say, I didn’t take a lot of pictures, so this blog post is all you’re getting out of 8 days.
The Carnival was good fun. The first day I wore normal clothes and then by the second day I felt underdressed so I had to wear at least a sparkly skirt! Couldn’t match up to feathers and camouflage though.
These photos aren’t from the carnival, they’re from another random music festival outside Francine’s house where I was staying.
People’s attire in this city can be interesting, to say the least. But I have to admit that I like the anything goes kind of style. I mean, you’re not going to see me start wearing bootie shorts and thigh highs, no matter how nice my legs might get now that I’m training for a half marathon. But I respect a girl who wears what she wants and doesn’t care what people think.
Like the Spaniards love themselves a good plaza, these Londoners seem to love themselves a good festival.
Please excuse the iPhone shots. We’ll now move on to pictures taken with my fancy camera.
My favorite kind of literature is historical fiction. I’m obsessed with Phillippa Gregory books. All her best work is about royalty in the UK back in the day so I really wanted to go see the Tower of London while I was in town. I’ve read so many stories set there that it was crazy to be there in the flesh and blood!
It was cold and rainy the day I visited, like many London days, but to be honest, I didn’t mind too much. It meant that the place was pretty empty.
The lady who gave me the audio tour headphones mentioned it would take an hour to two hours to do the full tour. It took me around four. I took my sweet old time I have to stop constantly and take pictures, that makes me an exceptionally slow tourist.
The voice on the audio tour made me laugh really hard several times. At one point the script said, “Don’t forget to visit all the tower has to offer — for example, here at the Wakefield Tower, you can visit a small exhibit on torture! Thanks for visiting this unique historical site.”
Seeing this door out onto the Thames River where Kings and Queens and traitors used to get smuggled out, and seeing The Bloody Tower where lots of royals were imprisoned kind of gave me the heeby-jeebies. There didn’t used to be much of a justice system. If they wanted you to be guilty, you were guilty. And god knows what kinds of tortures would await you…being embowled, hanging, beheading, stretching, drowning in wine, etc. I wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic about the torture exhibit as the audio guide voice.
I totally thought that these guys were for sure just some randoms that are hired by the museum side of the palace to dress up like every day is Halloween. However, come to find out, you actually have to be a real officer in the British services and be promoted to a certain level before even being eligible for this position. Why anyone would want to be stared at by millions of tourists a year is beyond me. But it’s apparently a popular, highly sought after position. Brits are so bizarre.
They’re called Beefeaters.
In terms of recent history, my favorite part of the visit was seeing the crown jewels and watching a video of Queen Elizabeth at her coronation when she was young. She was so pretty. And I read that she had to practice and do neck strengthening exercises for weeks beforehand because the crown was so heavy!
Almost looks real, huh?
When I was done walking through the grounds and doing the audio tour, I bought Phillippa Gregory’s newest book on my Kindle and went to grab a coffee, warm up and read. It was her best book yet, by the way!
Later on that day, I met up with a good friend in a nearby neighborhood. We visited this adorable little market here, the Jubilee Market, I believe it was called.
We didn’t stop and buy anything. Just strolled through and took a few photos.
I loved this neighborhood, it felt so cute and stereotypically London to me!
In the end, we really just had our eyes on the prize — wine.
Even though I didn’t do nearly as much touristy stuff this time around in London, I enjoyed my visit so much more than the last time. Probably because I didn’t do nearly as much touristy stuff. It also helped to have friends showing me around. Always good to get local perspective on things.
If you’ve been to London before, what’s your take? Do you like it?