On Friday morning we woke up to an overcast London sky, ate a leisurely breakfast at our hotel, and headed out for the day. To combat the cheesiness of the previous day’s activities, we decided to take in a few genuine historical sites in London. I have fond memories of touring the Tower of London from my first trip to England almost 30 years ago, so we hopped the tube to Tower Hill.
The Tower of London mixes the best of all worlds for traveling families. There is enough culture and history to satisfy the parents, enough tales of blood and gore and grisly murders to keep the attention of the children, and a tour of the Crown Jewels to impress the whole family. We opted for a guided tour by a Yeoman (aka, a “Beefeater”), who being required to have a certain amount of military experience, are skilled enough to get children to listen, and fascinating enough to keep their attention.
After the Tower of London we hopped a river taxi on the Thames to the site of the rebuilt Globe Theatre. The Globe was Shakespeare’s theatre, at least at the time of his death, but was essentially destroyed about 20 or so years after he died. Enough records exist of it that at the end of the 20th century there was a large movement (led by American actor and director, Sam Wanamaker) to rebuild The Globe to its exact specifications. If you ignore to fire exit signs, electrical lighting, and a few other modern amenities (required by code) I would say they have done a wonderful job!
Just down the street from The Globe we were starting to take the pedestrian bridge back over the Thames when we heard festive music and caught a whiff of deliciously open roasted meats. When we popped ’round the corner we found the last vestiges of London’s Weihnachtsmarkt (or “German Christmas Market”). We had stumbled on the last day of the market, and all of the vendors were selling their wares at considerable discount.
Sarah found some trinkets that she will turn into a Christmas tree ornament for home. Emily found some fancy nail polishes. Henry, of course, found a local young female vendor to flirt with. When we asked him if she was his girlfriend, he responded “No, we just like to wave to each other.” We enjoyed a dinner selection of roasted duck, roasted pork, and sausages. We ate out on a picnic table, just under the beginning of the pedestrian bridge that shielded us from the light rain that was falling over London.
When dinner was done we crossed the bridge to the other side of the Thames and caught a glimpse of St. Paul’s Cathedral. With our bellies full and our legs tired, we rode the Tube home and collapsed into our beds, ready to wake up and make tomorrow’s journey from London to Henley-on-Thames.