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London Trip, entry the 3rd

I usually try to hold myself to three to five images a post, but I'm indulging myself for the sake of narrative.

Dec 28th:

Our afternoon was mostly taken up in the the British Library.

British Library Entry Gate

I would have loved to have shown you pictures of the "National Treasures" exhibit, which included jotted down Beatles lyrics, a Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, and Jane Austen's writing desk; or the provocative "Taking Liberties" exhibit, which showed interesting British historical documents and the context in which they led to modern civil rights, but the British Library didn't allow the taking of photographs :(. Suffice it to say that it was all pretty amazing.

I did snap this shot of The King's Library, which formed the original core of the British Library, and is still apparently expected to be held separate under the terms of the original donation. I wish I'd had a fish-eye lens, because it's much much bigger than this.

The King's Library

This is an iconic sight in the London Underground -- mind the gap!

Mind the Gap

We went to see a burlesque Sunday night -- La Clique. It was very, very gay. A good time was had by all.

Dec 29th:

Our last full day in London. I had trouble sleeping, but we hit the ground running and spent the day seeing the sights. This was really the first non-holiday weekday of our trip, so we got to see the city in more of its natural state.

First off: Trafalgar Square. I will spare you most of my pictures of statues and fountains.

Trafalgar Square

Next up: we took a "Duck Tour." World War II amphibious landing craft/troop carriers have been repurposed into tour vehicles. Half of the tour was on the streets of London, and the other half was on the River Thames. Our tour guide was replete with bad jokes, and it was a cheesily awesome good time.

Passing another "Duck" on the river:

On the Duck Tour in the Thames

House of Parliament and Big Ben:

Parliament, a Duck's-Eye View

After lunch, we headed over to the Tower of London. On our way, we passed this odd church archway on Seething Lane:

Seething Lane

This is the entryway to the Tower. While it's not in this picture, I found it interesting that the gatehouse to the tower was where the security folks were doing bag checks and checking tickets.

Entering the Tower of London

The actual Tower was somewhat disappointing, because it was jammed full of people, and the exhibits were somewhat lackluster in providing information and context. Still, the architecture was fascinating, at least partially because it covered so many different eras within a very small amount of acreage.

I found "The Line of Kings" to be impressive:

Line of Kings in the White Tower (part of the Tower of London)

And this elaborate arrangement of guns in the royal armoury:

Royal Armouries in the White Tower (part of the Tower of London)

We passed on waiting in line to see the Crown Jewels, though. This picture shows part of the incredibly long line, and also some of the architectural whiplash:

People queued up to see the Crown Jewels

This picture has three interesting things in it. First, a tower raven (in the left). Second, a really old-ass wall. Third, a representative queue of people waiting to get into one of the many tiny tower exhibits.

Lines, Ravens, and Medieval Walls

Here's a close-up of that same raven from the last picture:

Raven of the Tower of London

Some more architectural whiplash -- it's the London Gherkin in the background!

Architectural Fandango

And here's Tower Bridge and the oddly shaped London City Hall in one shot:

Tower Bridge and the London City Hall

Finally, Tower Bridge at night:

Tower Bridge

From the Tower of London, we headed to Newham to catch a panto. However, the guide we used steered us wrong, and this one completely failed to have any of the sly subversive humor we were promised. Instead, it was a pretty straight up kid's show. We left after the intermission and spent a quiet evening in the hotel room.

And this morning we're on a train to Edinburgh! More on that in the next post.