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Day 3

Our tour guide (a Beefeater) at the Tower of London
Slept well until 7 AM, showered, dressed and ate a scrumptious English breakfast at the hotel, consisting of eggs, juice, bacon, sausage, toast and coffee. Then we walked to the Tube where we purchased day passes and took the Circle Line to Tower Hill where we toured the ancient Tower of London for 11 pounds each, worth every pence.
Our tour guide was a Beefeater - they are men who must serve a minimum of twenty years in the British Army and display "exemplary service." The Beefeaters live on the historic Tower grounds with their families, a prestigious honor. There are only 40 Beefeaters at any given time. Their responsibilities vary from guiding tourist to caring for the traditional large black ravens. The rumor has been, for hundreds of years, that when there are no more ravens left at the Tower, the Kingdom will fall. So to make sure, they clip the wings of these huge birds. We saw where Anne Bolyn, the Duke of Monmouth, Guy Fawkes (who was brutally tortured) and hundreds of other unfortunate souls were executed. The poor Duke of Monmouth was beheaded by Jack Ketch, the infamous and unreliable executioner at the Tower. After several unsuccessful but painful blows with his axe, Ketch had to finish the Duke with a knife. After the execution, it was suddenly realized that there were no "official" portraits of the Duke, so his head had to stitched back on by the Royal Surgeon, the scar covered with an ascot, and the portrait hurriedly painted. The portrait can be seen today at the Royal Portrait Gallery.
The White Tower at the Tower of London
Ancient weapons, jousting equipment, armor and history dating back to 1066 and William the Conqueror are displayed in various rooms. The exhibits are first class, and we could have spent all day here. We spent three hours at the Tower. We met Denise, a Yank, who was reading Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris, which caught my eye. We discussed the book and other works by Hugo (my favorite novelist) and Tolstoy (hers.) It was nice to meet a kindred literary spirit.
We decided to give our feet a break and jumped on a number 15 bus headed east from the Tower, which was the wrong direction for us, but the bus was there and our feet were exhausted from climbing up and down the turrets and spiral staircases of the Tower, and we wanted to experience the east end of London. We relaxed for twenty minutes on the top deck of the double-decker bus, saw the east side of London, then decided to jump off and catch a number 15 going west. A minute after jumping off the bus I realized I had left our brand new $250 Pentax camera on my seat. I looked down the street and could see that the bus had not traveled too far but was moving, so I ran faster than I have run in probably fifteen years, and although the bus was traveling down the road I was able to catch up to it and jumped back on while it was in motion, startling the ticket taker. I breathlessly explained the situation, flew up the spiral staircase to the top deck, and there was our camera looking at me as if to say "You moron…"
The camera safely tucked away in my daypack, I thanked the lady ticket taker and jumped back off, again while the bus was moving, and found Carol and the two of us stood there in East London laughing our asses off and thanking God for London traffic which had kept the bus in range. I was winded for at least an hour.
We took the next number 15 bus going west and saw an inviting pub called the Sea Horse at the corner of Queen Victoria and Friday Streets, where we got off and had a much needed pint of Guinness and fish and chips. It is 2:00 in the afternoon and London is sunny and around 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a wonderful breeze. We have been blessed with unusually spectacular weather, and as we sit as this busy corner, we are amazed at how horrendous, yet manageable, the London traffic seems to be.
dml at the Seahorse, adding another entry to our journal... Carol enjoying Guinness at the Sea Horse
A short walk from the Seahorse is St. Paul's Cathedral, first built in 604 and rebuilt at least twice after being destroyed by fires. This current cathedral was begun by the great British architect Christopher Wren in 1675 and took 35 years to construct. Carol and I toured the magnificent and beautiful cathedral with its massive dome, painted in incredible color and perspective by Sir James Thornbill, then walked (hiked) the 500-plus steps along many cave-like winding circular staircases to the top.
St. Paul's Cathedral
Wren's dome is awesome, and the view of London from the outside of the top of the dome is a breathtaking birds-eye view of one of the greatest cities of the world. It was, and still is, an incredible feat of architecture, and at the time it was built it was so scandalously revolutionary that Wren had to somewhat compromise his original design. Here is where Winston Churchill's funeral was held and where Prince Charles married Diana in 1981. John Donne's tomb is here, as are Lord Nelson's and Christopher Wren's burial places. There is a bust commemorating Lawrence of Arabia in the crypt.
We noticed much graffiti along the many winding spiral staircases (we saw a lot of graffiti on our journey) and I was tempted to give London something to ponder by scribbling "dml 05-11-1692" but refrained out of respect for this majestic building and the spirits wandering is myriad passageways. 
The view from outside the dome at St. Paul's
Painfully (our feet are killing us) walked to a number 15 bus stop near St. Paul's with the intention of spending the delightfully warm, sunny afternoon at Hyde Park. At the bus stop we met an older couple from Northern California who needed directions to Victoria Station. We had a map so we were glad to assist. They were on their way to Cornwall for a week and then on to Malaga, Spain.
Our bus came (quite crowded) and on the way we decided to try to get tickets to Phantom of the Opera at one of the discount ticket houses at Picadilly Circus or Leicester Square. We jumped off at Leicester Square, which was swarming with people - jugglers, musicians, magicians, strollers like us, lovers embracing on the green grass of the square, and thirsty people (us) sipping Guinness at the many cafes lining the park. We sat at Oscar's Café watching the life before us. We have never been to Leicester Square when it did not feel electric and alive.
Leicester Square
Obtaining tickets to Phantom developed into somewhat of a logistic hassle, so we decided to wait until Monday in order to get good seats.
We walked up Charing Cross Road, past multitudes of book sellers, to a department store called Dorothy Perkins, where Carol bought a nice t-shirt in case we have more unusually warm weather. Then a short walk back to the Morgan Hotel for some much needed foot rest and showers.
At around 7 PM we dressed, walked to nearby Coptic Street where we had earlier spotted some interesting Greek and Indian restaurants. We chose the Greek restaurant (Konaki, 5 Coptic Street) - Carol's nose for quality and value is astonishing, and she is never wrong. We decided to try the "set menu" which one sees all over Europe - they are pre-set courses for a set price. I had tsatsiki and dolmas (superb) and Carol had taramasalata and lamb souvlaki (excellent) with the house red Greek wine (light and sweet.) All in all a fine meal at Konaki Restaurant for 36 pounds 80 pence (roughly $51.00.)
London comes alive when the sun goes down. After dinner we walked back in the direction of Leicester Square, through Soho, past thousands of revelers, mostly young, grouping and preparing to do damage to the night. We came across a great Django Reinhardt type of jazz band - guitar, violin, bass and sax. Window-shopped until we met the cacophonous mobs milling about Leicester Square. Selected a café around 9 PM and planted ourselves for some world-class people watching, and we were not disappointed. Had a Guinness and a Montecristo and spent an hour watching the "people show" and listening to what Carol calls "the cacophonous symphony of mankind" - all the different languages that blend together like music.
Tired, we strolled leisurely from Leicester Square, past many ethnic restaurants (Carol went into a few to "scope things out") and soon found ourselves home at the Morgan at around 10:30 PM for a good nights rest after a terrific day of exploration and fun.

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