Memoirs of a Young Traveler- Tower of London

I think I’m going to marry a beefeater. Because if I marry a beefeater I’ll get to live in the Tower of London. I wonder though if I marry a beefeater if that means I’ll have to actually start eating beef. I’d start eating beef if it meant I got to live in the Tower of London. So I’ll marry a beefeater.

Of all the royal residences in England and all the castles in England and all the famous buildings in England, I think the Tower of London gets the prize for most gruesome. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about walking into a building in which I knew people had been executed. Honestly, who wouldn’t be excited to see where Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were beheaded. I think they should consider themselves lucky, of all the places they could have met their fate, the Tower of London green is a nice place to have it happen.

That being said, I don’t think it’s the most beautiful building in London. Castles are cool because they’re castles, but that doesn’t necessarily make them beautiful. It’s photogenic, it’s historic, and yes there are some pretty spots, but I can think of at least 10 other buildings I thought were more beautiful.

What makes the Tower of London so exciting is its history. As you walk around and as you sit and stare, you’re realize how fascinating and impressive the building is. It’s full of oxymorons: royal residence and prison, home to the royal jewels and location of some of England’s most famous beheadings. It seems strange to put them all together.

I decided before I had even gotten to London that I would take Beefeater tour. I had heard they were funny and entertaining, and honestly who wouldn’t want to meet someone known as a beefeater. The tour was beyond my expectations. Not only was it perhaps the funniest tour I have ever been on, but it was actually the most informative. Aside from the standard Tower of London details regarding beheadings, the beefeater told us some unbeknownst details about the Tower. The castle was the prison and murdering ground of two young princes (one as young as 8). For a period of a few hundred years it was also the zoo, housing everything from lions to polar bears. Nazi Rudolf Hess was held in the Tower for a period of time during World War 2. There are royal guards on duty at the castle because it is technically still a royal residence.  And, the beefeaters that guard the castle, and their families, actually live in the Tower of London.

Aside from the historical stories, the beefeater was in fact hilarious. His dry humor and self deprecation were perfect. Not to mention his ability scare and make fun of those on the tour; he made one poor boy on the tour jump at least 5 times. You can tell, however, that there are times, especially at the end of a long day that the beefeaters get a bit tired of giving the same tour over and over and over again. Of having their picture taken (I definitely took at least one picture). My particular tour guide, though he joked about it, was a bit disturbed by the fact that he was being filmed by one family. I don’t blame him. It would be horrible to have your face shoved in the public without your permission, to be made fun, especially with a name, you can’t control, as ridiculous as a beefeater.

After the tour I walked around the castle. I went into as many compartments and rooms as I could. I stared at Tower Bridge and enjoyed walking along the walls of the castle like Queen Elizabeth (minus the 16th century dress). The exhibits in different parts of the castle were less informative than they were cheesy. But, the fact that I was in the Tower of London made up for all the cheesiness. Cobblestone, stonewalls, over 500 years worth of history, I don’t think I could really complain.

I may have been in a place with a bloody history, but there was something calming about just sitting out and next to the castle.  When you’re wandering through all of England, you’re aware of the history that you’re walking on. The number of people who have stepped where you’re stepping. I was most struck by this history though when I was in the Tower of London. I’m not sure why. It may have been because I had the most knowledge of the history there. It may also have been because it was a castle that you read and hear about everywhere.

It may be every little girl’s dream to live in a castle. It may be every woman’s dream at heart to live in a castle. And even if the Tower of London has a bloody and gruesome past, the little girl in me loves that I got to wander the halls of a castle.  It loves the fact that the Tower of London tells me that people still live in castles.

I had dinner with my uncle and cousin that even over by Baker Street at a restaurant called Giraffe. Considering they live in a different country, on a different continent, it was nice to see them after such an extended time apart. We ate, a lot, I felt so full I actually considered rolling back to my hotel.

With dinner done and the Tower of London seen and explored I had finished my time in London. I would depart for Overton the following morning to start the second half of my trip.

London marked an accomplishment in my life. My first trip entirely by myself. It was a marker for being an adult. No matter how tired I was or how outraged about my camera I was, London succeeded in proving to me that I could function in the world by myself.

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