Right after I arrived in London, some friends and I spent two hours walking through East London. It’s an area that’s largely undiscovered by tourists, yet contains amazing bars, restaurants and pubs and is full of character. Walking along the Thames from Rotherhithe, Tower Bridge looms before you in all its glory.
Tower Bridge at dusk. Isn't it beautiful? I took about 75 pictures - you're just getting the good ones, trust!
On my fifth day in England, I spent 3 hours touring the Tower of London itself. The Tower, as you might know, is most famous as the royal prison where Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I (Bloody Mary!) executed hundreds of people–including, of course, three Queens of England: Anne Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Jane Grey. Before she became Queen Elizabeth I, the young Princess Elizabeth was also held in the Tower by her sister Mary for 2 months on suspicion of trying to seize the crown for herself. No real proof of Elizabeth’s involvement in various plots could be found, she was eventually released into house custody and, less than 4 years later, she became Queen. (I’ve been a little obsessed with Elizabeth I for the better part of 15 years. She was an absolute badass.)
To the left, a memorial installed by Queen Victoria commemorating the spot where Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Katherine Howard were executed; to the right, the royal apartments were Anne Boleyn and, later, her daughter Princess Elizabeth were held
The Tower is a fascinating place oozing with history. I learned on my tour that it’s still a residence–nay, a village! The Yeoman Warders (otherwise known as the Beefeaters) live there with their families, and there’s a post office, a doctor’s office, a church and even a pub. The church, by the way, is where Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Katherine Howard are all buried.
Walking over Tower Bridge as the sun sets
What else is in The Tower? The Crown Jewels ! I wanted so desperately to take photos, but the eagle-eyed guards forbade it. They’re stunning up close, and if you haven’t paid a visit, I highly recommend the next time you’re in London. I also learned that Queen Consorts are crowned alongside their husbands during the Coronation Ceremonies…so, one day, Kate Middleton will literally be crowned Queen of England with a freaking amazing piece of jewelry!
And, finally, Tower Bridge at night. My friend KSned's flat is just a 5 minute walk away, so I was able to walk by the Tower and Tower Bridge on a daily basis. Love!
The area where I stayed for a good chunk of my trip is called Wapping. It’s a less-known area of London that is mostly famous for Execution Dock, where pirates–including the notorious Captain Kidd–were hanged back in the day while onlookers watched and cheered. (Weird.) Now, Wapping is home to multi-million pound apartments, cobblestone streets, a sportscenter, adorable Thames-front pubs, and an avant-garde bar/restaurant/art center called The Wapping Project that I visited on my second-to-last day in London.
The outdoor installation at the Wapping Project features doors, chairs and ladders set in trees and made me think of Alice in Wonderland!
Now that I’m finally back home in good ol’ Southern California, I have to admit that I do miss London a tiny bit. It’ll always feel like I’m returning to visit an old friend–and, considering that I’m lucky enough to have several awesome lifelong friends there (love you gals!), that’s both literally and figuratively true!
Black comedy at its finest - very British. This sign, featuring a droll quote from famous diarist Samuel Pepys, hangs outside a pub just across from Tower Hill, where the public executions took place.
More from my England trip to come soon, including my visit to the awesome Butterfly Boutique , a Bare Escentuals press breakfast for the new Pretty Amazing lipsticks, and some videos I took outside Westminster Abbey on my last day!