Luckily, I made friends with two lovely grownup people next to me at the fence. Hailing from Atlanta, we talked about their travels, where to go in London, what was too expensive for a student and what I absolutely HAD to see. They were interested in my studies in Israel, and I explained a little bit about my life in Jerusalem. We also talked about security, Bush and politics. You can talk about a lot while waiting for the guard.
The waiting paid off, when the guards (there are two, because they are switching) FINALLY showed up. The layers of people behind me pressed me forward at a weird angle, and I leaned up against the fence, flexing my tempermental feet every couple of seconds. Ouch. This stupid position, however, did give me a pretty good vantage point.
This is one guard, one the side where I was standing. The other guard had these horrible, furry black hats. Made me miss streimels!
"Hi, Nigel. How's the wife?" "Oh, Katherine is having a good time with Quincy. Our little boy is quite the cute little chap!"
Things that ran through my mind during the changing of the guard:
1. It's over an hour? REALLY?!
2. Stop leaning on me!
3. Ohh...I think it's over!
4. Wait...no, I'm not in Petra. Then why are they playing the theme from Indiana Jones...
5. ...and Star Wars? What is going on here!?
6. I would really like a nice bottle of CocaCola Light.
7. Ohh...I think it's over!
8. I think I'll go to the Tower of London.
7. Are cellphone cameras so good now that you don't need a separate digital? How fascinating!
8. Ohh...I think it's over! YES! Off to the Tower!!!
My friends at the fence convinced me that I should go to the Tower of London, at least to see the crown jewels. I arrived at the Tower, and since I've returned, I have explained how expensive London was by stating the price for a student ticket. $26 / 13 pounds! Barf! But I paid it, joined a tour, and learned all about the creepy history of the Tower, which used to house the royal family, be surrounded by a moat of excrement and muck, houses the Beefeaters and their families, and, my personal favorite, stores and displays the crown jewels.
Quoth the raven, nevermore. Apparently, if the Tower's ravens leave the premises, the whole Kingdom will come crashing down. Superstitions. Love them.
This is a Beefeater, otherwise known as a Yeoman Warder. His dry, British humor and dislike of children was hilarious. Also, his uniform is quite fabulous, yes?
They don't let you close to the guards anymore for goofy, Austin Powers-esque pictures. So this is what I got.
The day was warming up, the view was beautiful and the only downside was that the crown jewels are in a no-photo zone. (Link gives you a peek, but does not do the jewels justice. Just imagine the ball dropping in Times Square at New Years and you'll have an idea of the flash!) Lame as that rule was, it was really ridiculous to see a 530-carat diamond that looked like a baseball. In all honesty, the jewels looked fake. There were so many, they were so sparkly, and it was just kind of crazy.
The Tower of London is next to the Tower Bridge, so I visited it on my way out. Before I did that, however, I had some English tea, with a scone and jam and clotted cream (worst name EVER of tastiest stuff EVER) and a piece of banana bread cake. Good deal (just $10!) for London...and really yummy.
After the Tower! the Tower! I wandered my way to the theatre district, and got last-minute TKTS to see the History Boys. The play was excellent, and although it was incredibly British, I managed to keep up. Seeing as how I hadn't changed my outfit, I ended up in the intermission bathroom line in jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and my backpack (beloved Aurora, pictured above). A woman in line, affected her snootiest British accent, asked me if I liked the play, and then said it must be difficult for me to understand. What she didn't exactly say was that she thought me a daft American prick who could never possibly understand highbrow British drama. Thankfully, she spoke in a language to which I could respond fully, and let her know that I was fully capable of understanding the plot, and oh, by the way, I am an educator and not only am I learning plenty from the play, but I understand a great deal of the issues in the play. (Part of this conversation took place in my head, but I did tell her off. A little.) It was really nice to be able to mouth off in my own language, one of the parts of my English-speaking life at home I miss so dearly.
Exhausted, I made my way back to the hostel. It was time for bed.
There was morning. There was evening.
The third day.