Today we woke up around 8 and traveled to Victoria station to check on Leeds Castle departure times. We decided that the train times wouldn’t allow us to spend enough time at the castle, so we picked up breakfast instead (hot cocoa/cappuccino, pain du chocolat/ham and cheese croissant from the French patisserie at Victoria). After eating breakfast in the station, we took the Tube to Tower Hill, bought tickets for Tower of London at the tube station (to save time), and walked across to the Tower entrance. Since it was still early, there were no crowds, and were able to wander in and go straight to the Crown Jewels. We watched historical videos on the way in, saw the jewels (sparkly!), and were able to make several passes due to no crowds. The last time I saw the jewels, I was lucky to see the jewels once and I felt rushed the entire time. We bought some souvenirs at the Jewel Shop before continuing our visit. We arrived back at the front gate for the noon “beefeaters” tour with “Phil”. He was a riot (as we had hoped). He told us about Sir Walter Raleigh (who Raleigh is named after) and his imprisonment, among other stories more familiar to us. We heard about beheadings that took place both within and outside of the tower grounds, and then went to the chapel, where some of those beheaded are buried beneath the floor. After the tour, we went into the Bloody Tower and toured White Hall Castle (mostly an armory). Before leaving the tower, we stopped at the main gift shop and bought a couple more things. In total, we spent about 3.5 hrs at the tower.
We had lunch at Viti’s Lounge, which was a short walk from the tower. We both had ham and cheese paninis. Stacey had a glass of wine and I had a beer (“super-chilled” Fosters). We then trekked back to the hotel. On the way, we stopped at an “Easy” Internet Café (which ended up being anything but easy), where we had trouble purchasing an access code (the machines were all broken) and then had trouble getting a working station (the hardware was in poor condition). Finally, we were able to get online and checked email, weather, and the tour information for Monday. Equally important, we checked Starbucks locations, and saw that Rehnquist had died. Stacey stopped on way back to the hotel and bought a cheap purse from a street vendor.
Back at the hotel, I called to book our tour for Monday. We then went to dinner at the Prince Edward Pub in Notting Hill. I had never been to this part of London before, so it was really cool. Notting Hill is an amazing, highly affluent neighborhood that has a cool character that’s hard to explain. You’ll just have to go yourself! At the Prince Edward, we had garlic bread, roast beef, “super-chillled” Fosters, and shared creme brulee for dessert. We got a little lost coming back, but ended up finding a grocery (Sainsbury’s) to get breakfast for the morning. We eventually found another tube station and came back to hotel.