**Welcome to Honeymoon Week! Every day this week I am going to post about a different day of our honeymoon trip to London and Paris. Just a warning, these posts are long, but it took me almost a year to get around to finishing them so give a wordy girl a break.**
Let’s see, where where we?
After traveling for 24 hours and spending our first day in London on no sleep, we crashed for something like 14 hours. We slept until noon, eventually showered and make plans for the day. Feeling like locals in the cute neighborhood where our hotel was, we grabbed sausage rolls and pastries from the corner deli and hopped on the tube.
We decided to explore the original district of London, known simply as ‘the City.’ During Shakespeare’s time, the City of London consisted of a 1 mile square area surrounding St. Paul’s Cathedral. This was the London of the ancient Romans, Henry the VIII and Queen Elizabeth the First. Between the Bubonic Plague and the Great Fire of 1666 London had to be completely rebuilt in the 1670’s. Today this area is the financial heart of the city.
Armed with Rick Steves’ City of London podcast we took the tube to the Temple stop and walked a few blocks to the Strand. I definitely recommend Rick Steve’s podcast tours because even though we probably looked silly walking around with headphones in, at least we weren’t carrying a huge guidebook that screamed “Tourist.” Plus, they were free. We started our ipods at the same time and let Rick narrate our walk.
The first thing we came to was Australia House, an embassy that probably looks familiar if you’re nerds like us as Gringott’s Wizarding Bank from the Harry Potter movies.
Unfortunately (fortunately perhaps?), we didn’t see any goblins.
Next was the Church of St. Clement Danes. It was hit heavily during the WWII Nazi air blitz and is now a Royal Air Force chapel dedicated to fallen soldiers.
Then we came to the Royal Courts of Justice. This is the courthouse in London. Every trial in British pop culture has happened here from the Spice Girls’ record disputes to Paul and Heather McCartney’s divorce. Paparazzi are often crowded outside.
I drink hot tea with milk every morning and was so excited to bring home some English Breakfast tea from the Twinings Tea Shop.
Down the street from Twinings is the Temple Bar Monument. This statue marks the official entrance to ‘the city’. As you pass it, you leave the city of Westminster and enter the city of London Proper.
Fun fact: the Queen officially presides over Westminster and doesn’t pass this point without ceremonial permission.
At this point, the Strand becomes Fleet Street (Sweeney Todd anyone?) .
Prince Henry’s Room from 1610 one of the few to survive the Great Fire. London before the Great Fire was mostly built out of wood. Afterwards they rebuilt it in brick and stone.
Man, my hair was really red then. And long.
It’s called the Temple church because it was the headquarters of the Knights Templar.
We made our way back to Fleet Street and stopped at St. Dunstan in the West. This church marks where the Great Fire of 1666 stopped. Forty theology students battled the blaze and stopped it from destroying the church. The rest of London was not so lucky.
The clock on the bell tower outside from 1670 features London’s very first minute hand.
At this point, we entered the ‘Fire Zone’ the stretch of London that was completely destroyed by the Great Fire.
Another trip through some twisting alleys and we found ourselves at Doctor Johnson’s House. He was an eccentric writer who compiled the first great English dictionary.
Just outside of Dr. Johnson’s house was this crazy building.
On our way back to Fleet Street we came to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Tavern. It was rebuilt in 1667 after it was destroyed by the Great Fire, but has been around since 1538. You’ll see more of this place later in the week.
Around the corner was our first good view of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
This is what happens when I try to get Jacob to take my picture.
To be fair, when he hands me the Flip camera the results are so shaky that they’re on par with the Blair Witch Project.
St. Paul’s Cathedral, England’s national church marks the heart of the city.Winston Churchill’s funeral as well as Lady Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding all took place in this famous church.
A church has stood on this spot for 15 centuries, but it had to be rebuilt after the Great Fire. St. Paul’s is Europe’s fourth largest church.
Just to the left of St. Paul’s, we made our way through the Temple Bar gate to Paternoster Square.
At this point, we decided to grab a late lunch and make our way to the Tower of London.
The Tower has served as a castle in wartime, a monarch’s residence in peace time, and, most notoriously, as the prison and execution site of rebels.
In this section of the castle we took a tour to see the crown jewels. I couldn’t take any pictures, but they are the greatest working collection of crown jewels in the world. Imagine lots and lots of diamonds.
We walked around and saw the famous ravens and the executioner’s block that dispensed with troublesome heirs to the throne and a couple of Henry VIII’s wives.
Look! A picture of us together. We were finally able to find a stranger who knew how to operate my camera.
Just outside of the Tower of London is the Tower Bridge.
After we were done squinting in front of the bridge, we grabbed some dinner and made sure to get back to Tower in time for the Ceremony of the Keys.
Every night at precisely 9:30, with pageantry-filled ceremony, the Tower of London is locked up (as it has been every night without fail for the last 700 years). The importance of securing this fortress for the night is still very relevant because, although the Monarch no longer resides at this royal palace, the Crown Jewels and many other valuables still do.
We weren’t allowed to take photos, but the Ceremony of the Keys was really cool. It’s very secretive and spooky and you have to remain quiet the entire time. The Beefeaters tell you the tales of the Tower and you get to exit through a hidden passageway. I would definitely recommend trying to get tickets if you find yourself in London with a free evening. The tickets don’t cost anything, but you have to request tickets by mail several months in advance.
I’ll meet you back here tomorrow and we’ll take a trip to Paris!