After last nights extremely late tuck-in, we slept like bricks until late this morning. It was nearly 11:00am before I even woke, and Karen hadn't been awake for very long by this time. We got up, showered and took off. We headed back toward the Tower of London, deciding to have lunch in a pub along the way. This was a great revelation! We were actually able to eat lunch for less than £14 ($21)! Apparently the key to cheap meals is pubs. The sad thing, several people told us this, but I'm not sure why didn't actually listen. I just can't believe that the street food places where more expensive. It's crazy!
Karen had a beef and ale pie with veggies and chips. Her pie was very filling and she said it was the best meal she'd had yet. I had vegetarian Lincolnshire sausages with chips and beans. The sausages were incredible, likely the best I've ever tasted. The chips were good, but not as nice as the ones we had last night. The beans, I had a feeling I knew what these would be like, and it was exactly correct. It appears that Heinz "beans in a rick tomato sauce" are the most popular in the UK. I think that they taste like really cheap, really bad Baked Beans. It's like cheap white beans in ketchup. I are them, but they are nothing remarkable. It's a shame really, beans are amazing when down right, a Puerto Rican with the right approach could make millions here!
After a satisfying meal, and one that finally felt much better against the wallet, we headed across the street to tour the Tower of London. We had been giving a sneak preview last evening during the Ceremony of the Key's and we both had a feeling it was going to be very cool. We checked out all of the tower's along the south walls, facing the river. This section was were King Edward's (sorry, I can't remember which one, the II, I think) suite was located, so we saw where his bedroom, his private chapel, heated room, and other rooms were located, some of them set up in a mock layout. This was interesting, but we came to see the Royal Jewels and crowns. We proceeded on to the next tower to see these, and were very shocked that nearly every crown had been stripped of their jewels, only one of the crowns even had stones set in it. We left this tower feeling almost ripped off and headed to the gift shop below. There were books in the shops with tons of pictures of jeweled crowns, sceptres, orbs, and many other things that we had obviously missed somehow. We headed to the next building and proceeded into the queue to watch several coronation videos from Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1952. The films showcased several of the items used during the coronation and explained some of the history of specific gemstones and histories of certain swords and the like. We continued through a few more rooms of these films before we emerged into a row chock full of golden items covered in stones. There were royal maces (I guess these are used to lay down a royal ass-whooping, but I may be wrong), giant Grand Royal punch bowls large enough to bath in, beautiful crowns with the jewels still in tact, scepters with diamonds that boasted the largest diamond in the world at the time of it's creation, as well as many, many other items. We had found the royal jewels. They are astonishing, but unfortunately, we could not take photographs. This second exhibit was a welcome change from the first disappointing house of jewels.
After wrapping up this tour, we walked around the grounds, checking out the Ravens, the chapel that contains the 7 people that were beheaded within the walls of the Tower, and briefly toured the row of houses that the Beefeaters reside in. It was getting a little late, so we decided to head back to the house in order to get ready for the Opera tonight. Karen had scheduled us to see Hansel und Gretel, in German, at 7:00pm.
On the way back to the house, we both began dosing off quite quickly. Karen suggested that we could stay in and order food this evening, and I was not at all opposed. We lounged around, checked email, watched a little bit of TV tonight. The long nights had caught up to us, and it was beginning to affect our ability and desire to brave the ever-growing cold. I found the local Indian delivery joint, Curry King, placed a quick order and we chowed down once it got here. It was nothing special, sort of a cheap Chinese-style Indian delivery, but we didn't have to leave for it, and it was decent enough. Worked great for me!
So, now I'm laying in bed, Karen having gone to sleep some time ago. She was doing laundry and I found her passed out in the bed 30 minutes after she came up to fold a load. I'm feeling the pull to do the same.
Tomorrow, we leave for Stratford-upon-Avon, after renting a car in Oxford. I really hope the weather is good enough for us to carry out our plans. Fingers crossed!
Here are some more photos from today, and the full set is being uploaded to Karen's site. http://s290.photobucket.com/albums/ll256/sandalscout/GB%202010-2011/Dec%2023-Pub-Tower%20of%20London/