Tuesday, February 21, 2012

London again

We are at the mercy of a toddler so that has slowed our roll quite a bit which actually suits me fine. Kitty's favorite thing are the trains- give her a ride on the Underground and she thinks its a trip to Disney World. We didn't try to cram in too much and decided to take it easy. Our priority was wandering about the city just soaking it all in rather than trying to tick off a list of must sees. I have to say my favorite part of our time in London was just wandering about but that is pretty much my favorite thing to do where ever I go.

 We did manage to visit the Tower of London. I am completely underwhelmed. I'm a pretty big history buff and was really looking forward to visiting. Meh. The lines to get in were not too big as it is February but the young lady working the ticket booth did not want us to miss out on the fun that is standing in queue in London so she managed to keep us in line for 30 minutes even though there were only 5 parties ahead of us.

 The only thing you could do in this line was purchase tickets so I'm not quite certain why it took so darned long. Must have been the people protesting the ticket charges, as Mark did. When you finally get to the ticket seller, she drones in a monotone voice as she swipes your card-"That's 19 pounds 80 with the voluntary donation per ticket.". Wait a minute. Mark's Scottish brain registered the words 'voluntary donation'. When he questioned the girl she replied in an annoyed voice that the entry fee was 18 pounds, the additional 1 pound 80 was a voluntary donation. Mark asked to have that waived and of course that entailed a return form to be filled out, the card to be re-swiped to have the funds re-credited and then another transaction for the tickets. I think we have found the reason for the length of time in line. Some English guy in line behind us started telling Mark to stop complaining and just pay up. Mark gave him "the look" and that shut him up. We wouldn't have minded paying 20 pounds or whatever they decided was a fair price but we thought it was pretty sneaky to figure out their cost of business and to then tack on a voluntary donation without giving you the option of paying it or not. Oh and its not as if we are stiffing a home for orphans, the Tower is owned by the Queen and while I am sure its not cheap to keep her in hats and handbags I'm pretty certain that based on the crowds its definitely operating in the black.

After waiting in line for tickets, we got to wait in line to have our bags searched. Once inside we were free to learn all about the Tower of London and its history. Except, not so much actual learning took place. Most of the towers and rooms inside were empty and apparently they aren't really sure what happened where so when in doubt, they made it up. 'This MIGHT have been where the Princes were murdered in brutal fashion'. "This might have been where another famous brutal murder took place'.'Here are mock ups of the various ways in which people were brutally tortured'. I suppose that they blood and sex sells but  you can't have it both ways. In what can only be described as a bit of historical white washing, after plaque after plaque telling you how brutal and bloody the history of the tower is they then state that 'only 40 people were tortured'. Ha. My recommendation would be to walk around the tower but skip the interior and spend your money and time at Westminster instead.
Best thing at the Tower- Beefeater playing fetch with a dog. Could have seen THAT for free.
We wandered by the Thames and the St. Katherine's docks and decided that we needed to find out about transient slips there. St. Katharine's would be an excellent place to berth the boat for a week or so.
Had lunch/dinner at the most charming Dickens Inn at the St. Katharine's docks. It was fantastic ambiance and the weirdest cheeseburger I have ever eaten. (more on that later) Back to the hotel for a good nights sleep before we board a train from King's Cross to head North....

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