The most fabulous thing happened today. Not in any tour book I read, but trust me, I’ve discovered what might be the most exciting thing I’ve seen in London so far.
Today was a monster of a day and we did all the things. We started out at the Tower of London. Tip: get there in time for opening and go straight for the jewels. It fills up fast and you’ll save yourself from waiting in line.
The jewels were awesome, huge diamonds and sapphires and rubies. Totally cool and a must see. We tagged along for a tour given by a Yeoman warder and experienced some enthusiastically told history. Time well spent.
Next stop was Tower Bridge, we had a pass for the bridge museum as well which included the delightful 206 step climb to the top walkway. On the other side it was 206 steps down and then lower still to the engineering museum which talked about the mechanics of lifting the bridge span up and down for tall boats.
After that we found some steps down to the shore of the Thames since the tide was out. This was one of my bucket list things ever since I heard about “mudlarking” on a documentary. In a nutshell because the Thames is tidal, and because of the city’s long and rich history, every time the tide goes out you can find all sorts of historical refuse left behind on the mud. Apparently you can’t officially mudlark without a permit, and your finds, if they have value belong to the British Museum BUT still it was awesome to unofficially walk and see the bits and bobs. Close enough to the real thing to make me happy. I was hoping to find a clay pipe, we didn’t but there were stamped bricks and broken pottery and all sorts of iron pieces. I’m a happy camper.
Note: the river is dirty, you don’t actually touch anything. For that matter there isn’t enough hand sanitizer for all of the times you’ll want to wash you hands here. Subways, buses, escalators, public toilets, so many germs.
This was all before lunch!
Next was a snack along the south bank which is set up for every manor of pedestrian. Beautiful places and spaces here.
Also what is a Unicorn Theatre anyway? No time to find out. We rushed off to the Florence Nightingale museum for the budding young nurse in our family to see. It was also a really neat experience. Florence was the second most powerful woman in the country after Queen Victoria, and pretty determined to develop the nursing arts.
On the way there we also discovered an underpass that made me think of Jack the Ripper until I found these lovely mosaics:
So now it was time for a drink and we headed off to the Beefeater Gin Distillery for a self guided tour. Fascinating since G&T is my favourite drink. Happily the pub up the street from the distillery sells 2 for 1G&T with your ticket so we stopped there because when in Rome!
Refreshed we headed back out to visit The Shard. This is the exciting part so stick with me. The Shard is Western Europe’s tallest building and you can go up 68 stories to the observation deck, and a bit higher than that for the open topped sky view level. But that’s not the best part! There was also a pop up G&T bar today, but that’s still not the best part. Yes I did forfeit the rest of my son’s university fund to have a fancy Gordon’s Pink G&T on top of the tallest building in the EU but what really was the cherry on top of this day was….the bathroom.
Oh yeah, when you are 68 floors up and need to go, guess what? They don’t bother with a four walled enclosure, you can visit the loo with a full view of the Thames, Tower Bridge and The Tower of London. Harrod’s might be fancy with their luxury bathrooms and free perfume at the sinks, but this baby, this is a whole other ball game.
Last stop of the day was King’s Cross Station 9 3/4. We did NOT wait in line for a chance to wear the scarf 100 000 other people have worn for the well commercialized photo op but if you look closely you might be able to see Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy working in the gift shop.
That’s it, I am done in for today. Even my Fitbit agrees.