Day Two: October 21, 2018, London, England
To make a commitment to various spots on your travels, I honestly think it helps when they’re booked in advance. Flights and hotels aside, of course, as they are deemed mandatory. I say this because if certain attractions weren’t scheduled online ahead of time, I, particularly, may have been late or worse missed them.
Having my tickets ready ahead of time definitely secured a lot of things, a day, a spot, and, as a bonus, a discount for the Tower when I went through Expedia.
When I woke up that morning at 10:30, I originally planned to be out the door at that time rather than hurrying with a scrub-down in the shower. Today was the first day I realized that next time I’m in London Town, I either pay more per night in a hotel or just stay in a hostel with the bare minimum to be in the mainstream of the city. Meaning that I chose a good deal with the Best Western in Peckham but didn’t delve as deep as I should have regarding the distance getting to where I planned to go. Since I wasn’t familiar with the bus system or the tube, I chose Uber. The trip cost about eighteen pounds which makes out to be about twenty-two dollars. When the average is that amount just one way, needless to say, it adds up.
But after shelling out an extra 900 bucks for a last-minute rescheduled flight, it hardly means anything at this point. I’ll just have to make use of the free opportunities available in the city and be frugal with food. With that said, the jet lag has catastrophically altered my appetite. It wasn’t until after exploring the Tower, that I realized I hadn’t eaten all day.
Back to the Uber. In thirty-five minutes, the driver rolled across the Bridge (as in THE London Bridge) and dropped me off by the sandy-colored cobblestone sidewalk of the extended entry. With four different areas to see on the Tower grounds, I headed to the group admission line to provide my printed confirmation in order to retrieve my ticket. Keep in mind, most attractions do request this when you schedule and pay online.
Immediately going through the black iron gates, I see the grounds were detailed wire sculptures of all wildlife to shadow their former captivity in the Royal Menagerie (when they weren’t restrained, that is). I went through the countless towers, each with individual names and dates informing visitors of their constructions and renovations. Some with specific purposes, such as private chapels, and residencies for those needing to stay there for protection as well as posh imprisonment.
Some infamous figures included Anne Boleyn, anarchist, Guy Fawkes, and–capturing my focus more–12-year-old Edward V and his 9-year-old younger brother, Richard of Shrewsbury. After Edward IV dies, the newly crowned Edward V and his brother were placed in under the claimed protection of their uncle, Richard of Gloucester. They were declared illegitimate and never seen again, leaving rumors and the duke to be crowned Richard III (the inspiration to one of Shakespeare’s most iconic villainous characters). For some time, their disappearance remained a mystery until the late 17th century when two skeletal remains were discovered under a staircase between the royal apartments and the Chapel of St. John in the White Tower (bottom right). At this time, Charles II believed these were the two missing princes so he had them reburied in Westminster Abbey. As you can see, my history recap shows my interest in British history.
After circling the complete garrison and main grounds, I checked my watch to see I’ve been there for almost two hours. It was three o’clock and the Globe’s last tour was at five. The next Yeoman Warders Tour (more likely known as “Beefeaters” and keepers of the seven ravens residing within the Tower) was at 3:30 and I noticed the Crowl Jewels Exhibition line. I scoffed in passing as I headed towards the Raven’s Cafe and the Tower gift shop. A few souvenirs and a foot-long, smoked bratwurst later, I exited and walked the tedious twenty minutes towards the Globe.
Following the GPS on my phone, as the streets of London can get tricky and maze-like, I finally found the stairs, and sign, leading to the Theatre. I turned in my print-out confirmation, also from Expedia, to retrieve my actual ticket for the 4:30 tour. She said the guide would ring a bell alerting when the tour would begin. With ten minutes to spare, the front desk allowed me to quickly browse replicas of the 16th-century costumes, the floor plan of the theatre, and Lady MacBeth’s minimalist-designed wedding dress from the 2015 film adaptation with Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender as the titular tyrant. Side note: Great film. Watch it. Completely underrated, historically accurate, and a must-watch. Before I could head further, the signal came and I high-tailed to the meeting place.
Forty-five minutes consisted of occasionally moving, from the groundling area to the main seating floor to the balcony and private booths for the aristocracy, while the eccentric but hilarious tour guide-slash-theatre director (sorry, his name escapes me) filled us in on the Globe’s history, secrets, and setbacks. I’m not saying anything eye-opening as it would take away some of the timeless fascinations. However I will say, for his epilogue, the guide led us to Temple Hall where he answered the “burning question” of where the plays are performed during the winter; I mean what with the whole giant opening as its trademark, it’s a common thought when you look up.
Also, it was adjacent to the gift shop. Aside from the signature souvenirs–magnets, a pen, and pin–I had to get one of the facsimiles from Shakespeare’s First Folio. But my options were a bit limited since there were only four and two of them were plays I never quite liked; they were A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, and Othello. I enjoyed the last one when I took a Shakespeare class in college, so I bought that one for thirteen pounds.
Just another thing to throw out there, if you haven’t heard or watched already, you gotta check out the sit-com, Upstart Crow, from BBC (also available on BritBox). It’s “futakin hilarious” with the bard himself played by comedian-actor, David Mitchell (above).
A combination of withering jet lag and sore feet from incessant walking, I ordered an Uber back and got some Starbucks while waiting. When I was back at my hotel, I reviewed my findings, called Ma to ease her that I was back, and ate a little bit of the snacks I brought from the States before falling asleep early to be ready for Cadbury tomorrow.
Lessons From Today:
1. Weigh the distance from where you’re staying to where you’re going. How much is the journey worth versus the price of where you sleep? Whether you pay more for transportation, i.e. Uber, taxi/cabbie, bus, tube, etc.?
2. About every attraction has an admission office where you confirm your online ticket. Always check and go there first before getting in line for the event/site/museum.
3. Always get the guidebook. It’s a great souvenir and they have all the details as well as the photos you may not have been allowed to take in person.
~Katie, The Once & Future Voyager
Every adventure is a chance to live the way you dream.