London really is an amazing city! I’m so glad we spent 4 days there (actually, the longest we spent in any one place during our trip this month!). Of course, we really packed things in, but why not? You’re in Europe. 🙂
If you missed any of the other posts about Europe, be sure to check out our detailed 2-week Europe itinerary and our day at The British Museum! (And if you’re curious about all those Airbnbs we stayed at, here’s why you totally should use Airbnb next time you travel.)
Tower of London
Our second full day in London was a busy one! We started out by touring the Tower of London from 9 am till 3 pm! I had visited the Tower of London 8 years ago when I was in Europe on a high school trip, and this time around was just as great! 🙂
The tour guides are called Beefeaters and we were lucky to get an absolutely hilarious, loud tour guide (those are the best kind!). For posts like these, I’m referring to my notes in my travel journal (side note: ALWAYS keep a travel journal – no one can remember all the details weeks or years later!). 🙂
Some of the tour highlights:
– We got to see where King Henry VIII’s wives were executed and buried
– We sat on the king’s indoor toilet (lol, but really)
– We toured the history-rich White Tower
– We saw the Crown Jewels (they put you on a very slow moving sidewalk which forces the huge crowd to be siphoned through more easily without dawdling…but we hopped on the moving sidewalk on the other side too, and rode by the jewels one more time! 😉 )
– We saw where animals (yes, like a polar bear!) used to be kept for royalty to view and enjoy
– And we saw the infamous ravens that live at the Tower of London.
^^ walking around from tower to tower along the walls ^^
^^ The White Tower ^^
We ate fish and chips for lunch (#mandatory) outside on the property, shooing away pigeons as we ate.
“Evensong” Service at Westminster Abbey
Then, we had time before our 7:30 pm Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre, so we headed over to Westminster Abbey. Although tours were closed by that time of day, we waited in line (with a high school band group from Minnesota!!) for a service at Westminster.
^^ MLK Jr. is the 5th person and Bonhoeffer is the 7th person – these sculptures are all 20th century martyrs ^^
It was incredible. The service we attended was called “evensong” – a service later in the day, focused on worship, listening, and reflection. The 4:30 pm service we went to had a focus on 20th century martyrs that day, including people like MLK Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I kept the bulletin.
Evensong that evening was amazing. The boys’ choir was astoundingly beautiful, their voices carrying and echoing throughout the space just like angels. I loved having that time of worship and reflection. These historic churches have seen so much throughout history, which is incredible in itself to think about, but also, the way those spaces were designed just brings you to a point of humility and awe and worship. (PS – Sir Isaac Newton is buried there!)
We arrived at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in time for the doors opening. The tickets I had purchased in advance were for “The Taming of the Shrew” because those were what was available, even though we originally wanted to see “Macbeth.” But we weren’t disappointed in the least! It was astoundingly good! I’m generally not the biggest fan of Shakespeare (sorry..) so I was a little worried beforehand that we wouldn’t be able to understand much of what was going on, not having studied that play in school or anything.
^^ the “groundlings” before the play started. Can you pick out Bjorn? ^^
That wasn’t an issue at all! The actors did such an incredible job! We knew exactly what words they were saying, but most of all, we knew what they meant so much of the time! We had opted to get “groundling” (standing) tickets that only cost 5 pounds as opposed to seated tickets that cost 45 pounds.
And it was SO worth our money! Bjorn and I were saying that if we lived nearby, we’d come to all the shows and just stand for 5 pounds like we did this time. The show was hilarious and clever and thought-provoking, as is Shakespeare’s custom. My feet hurt by the end, but that was probably because of all the miles of walking that day – less from standing during the play. We felt like the peasants or commoners who used to come to the Globe in ages past! What a neat experience.
As we walked back to our subway station, we stopped along the river and snapped a few photos. What a gorgeous night!!