Sunday, December 18, 2016

Family Vacation in the U.K., 5th October 2016, Day 6: Sightseeing in London

As stated in my previous post, we had a London Pass that we had purchased from the Visit Britain counter at the UK Visa office in Mumbai. This pass is meant for free visits to more than 150 places of tourist interest in London. Each day's pass can make your pocket lighter by upto INR 4000/= Now there is an upper limit on how much one can see, and this is about INR 10000/= worth per day in entry tickets, etc. However, before one can reach that upper limit, the day usually gets over! On this, our second day, we had planned to cover 4 attractions. In the end, we managed only 2 1/2! 

The first of these was a visit to the iconic Tower of London. To reach this, we took a tourist bus that took us free (as its cost was included with our London Pass). It was a rather long journey, but the continuous commentary in one's ears through an automated ear-phones inside the back of the seat in front of you - makes the trip interesting. We passed through the outskirts of London into the center of power - viz. Westminster, which has its own municipality. En route, we saw, again, some of the famous landmarks of London, as also, some not-so-famous places, such as the "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese" pub that dates back more than 300 years, and where writers and playwrights of the time came to sip a cup of tea or have something stronger while they tried to tickle their muse. If I am not mistaken, this included stalwarts like Lord Byron.

Eventually, we arrived at the Tower of London. The square structure that contains, on one corner of it, the actual tower, is only a part of a complex that houses troops even today. In addition, the tower also has the Royal Armoury and the Crown Jewels - which makes this place unique.  

The armoury was simply too interesting, but far more than it was the Crown Jewels exhibition that did not allow photography. We saw the Royal Jewels down the ages, as also various decorations worn by the previous monarchs on their epaulettes, chests and so on. Of course, we saw the Queen's crown with the Kohinoor diamond. It was a genuine pleasure to see these original jewels, golden kitchenwear and cutlery, and some were absolutely remarkable.  

From the TofL, we walked some distance to the London Tower Bridge. This is the structure we see on London postcards! There was an exhibition on Tier 2 of the tower bridge titled "Bridges of the World". But the most remarkable thing was on the highest level - the Tier 3, which has a glass-floor corridor that you walk through from one end to the other and from the other end via the second, parallel bridge to the end you began the walk on. From there, you descend to the first Tier - or the main road, and then out ...

What follows are a few of the best photos from today's visit to the TofL and the Tower Bridge.

The Tower of London

Our guide

One of the more decorative cannons on display

A full armour worn by a previous king, James II

A golden revolver - usually a gift

And, a golden machine gun

Some of the cannons and cannon balls on display

A live performance

Taking a breather before walking down the London Tower Bridge

At the Bridge, Tier 1

The Bridges of the World exhibition, Tier 2

Reclining on the glass floor

And then, everyone looks up for a group snap against mirrors on the ceiling
 The half that I referred to in the beginning was a visit to Oxford Street, where the family shopped till we dropped at the H & M stores. Indeed, this half was the one they most enjoyed. ;-)

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