They didn't allow pictures inside Westminster Abbey (uggggghhhh- dang it!), but I will share this tidbit with you from the audio guide. Queen Elizabeth I (daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn) was the cousin and rival of Mary Queen of Scots, whom she ordered to be executed. When Elizabeth died without having produced an heir, Mary's son James was made king. James ordered an elaborate memorial made in honor of his mother Mary, one that would be at least as grand as Elizabeth's tomb. I'm not sure how they would have said it 500 years ago, but in today's terms, that would be "In your face, Elizabeth!" LOL
Next, we went to the Tower of London, where we enjoyed an hour-long presentation by a Yeoman Warder in uniform, who detailed the gruesome and grisly past of the tower. *shiver* It's a testament to his skill that he made us laugh several times throughout his speech (once referring to 'those instruments of Satan' otherwise known as cell phones). In order to become a Yeoman Warder (aka Beefeater), you have to serve a minimum of 22 years in Her Majesty's Service with an exemplary record, pass some testing, and then agree to live in the tower. Wowza!
We were not allowed to take photos of the Crown Jewels exhibit, but it was amazing. The diamonds, rubies, and emeralds were so huge, they would have definitely screamed "FAKES!" were they not on the royal coronation implements. There was one diamond about the size of my fist, I swear. We did, however, get to see some armor and torture instruments, including an execution block and axe. *creeps away slowly*
We stayed as long as we could, but the tower closed at 5:30pm. Ironic that we wanted to stay when so many would have loved to flee those walls, isn't it? While hunting for a place to eat (we landed on Pizza Express), we passed by The Hung, Drawn and Quartered Pub that was bursting at the seams with businessmen in suits. They cluttered up the sidewalk with their pints, just hanging out after work with friends. It was a sight to see!
We finally made it back to the London Eye and enjoyed incredible views of the city, covered in blue sky! I snapped a good one of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament from the air. :)
All in all, a busy and beautiful day taking in the sights of London. After walking and standing for hours on centuries-old stone, my feet feel like they've been tortured as much as any prisoner of the tower! Good thing I was able to take a load off and enjoy some yummylicious ice cream along the river before heading back to the hotel!