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14 Jul 04

day 10: the monument, the tower of london

when i woke up this morning it was freezing – so much so that i decided to stay in bed. rainy, dark and cold. ew. anyway, i didn’t get up until about 10 – just long enough that some hotel staff guy walked into my room.

when i did finally manage to get myself moving, i ended up first visiting “the monument” – a christopher wren-designed monument to the london’s great fire of 1666. as an aside, my trip’s been somewhat mirroring the book i started reading when i arrived, quicksilver by neil stephenson. the book takes place in 17th century england, and revolves around the royal society (isaac newton and his ilk), and it’s been set at cambridge and london, referring to a bunch of places i’ve seen. the timing has been quite cool, especially after touring trinity college (where the first 100 pages of the novel takes place), and the story has just reached 1666 so i know a fire is looming on the horizon. anyway, back to the monument – you can climb the 331 steps to the top and see a pretty fun view of the london skyline, and i’ve added visual evidence to my gallery.

anyway, after that brief excursion i headed down to the tower of london. i bought my ticket ahead of time at my tube station (as my guide book recommended – that was for steve) and was a bit appalled at how expensive it was. anyway, my first impression when i arrived at the front gates was that it looked much like canada’s wonderland – enormous ticket gates with big crowds of tourists. thankfully, i walked straight in and joined a tour group of well over 100 people – probably closer to 200. thankfully, he was much much louder than the tour guides in cambridge and windsor, so i could actually HEAR him. the tour was excellent (albeit well rehearsed) and i quite liked the various stories of anne boleyn’s and thomas more’s (among many others’) demises. one downside to having so many people at the tower of london is that many of the buildings that are open to tour have very narrow passageways and steep staircases, so i found myself waiting to go around people for much of the day. the jewel house (aptly named for housing the crown jewels) reminded me of the CN tower – they essentially herd you through various time wasting activities, including repeating videos of the queen’s coronation and the crests of all previous kings and queens, to the extent that the guy behind me, who i think was canadian, finally asked “are there actually any jewels in here?” there were, and the display included a solid gold punch bowl that i could easily have fit in. anyway, i won’t bother detailing the rest of the stuff i saw, but i took pictures of the coolest stuff that i was allowed to.

today was also the first day that london was actually humid. it was dark all day (all day, that is, until i emerged from the tube stop near jo’s at 5:30…i was amazed to see that it had gotten bright during my 45 minute ride) and people were wearing jackets everwhere i went. i have no idea how they weren’t dying with the humidity.

a new m&s simply food store opened up on my corner this morning, so i celebrated by bringing some raspberries over to jo’s. we’ve pretty much polished them off, and i think it’s just about time for dinner.

UPDATE: i went to dinner with jo tonight and had the requesite fish and chips meal at some random pub in soho. the service was hilarious – we had to go to the bar to place an order, and when they brought the food to our tables quite some time later we were directed to go fetch some cutlery from the bar. class. the crazy/drunk/crazy and drunk guy dancing frantically (and singing intermittently) in the doorway to his walkman made for an entertaining wait though. afterwards we headed back to picadilly circus and took a few photos, and did the same in trafalgar square – it’s nice to have photos of trafalgar without the enormous la boheme set in the way.

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Pronunciation: 'ch&mp
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps blend of chunk and lump
Date: 1883

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