We slept in late today – 7:30am! After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we all hopped on the Tube and headed for the Tower of London.
Built on the site of Roman ruins, and begun in 1066 by William the Conqueror, the structure (also known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress) has gone through many phases of building and rebuilding. Though long used as a prison, the Tower also served as a royal residence, a menagerie, a fortress, and home to the Crown Jewels.
While most of the group headed straight to see the crown jewels, I opted to walk with Addie and one of our students along the tower wall walk. It was an interesting way to learn the history of the fortress – every tower we climbed through had an interesting exhibit. Some of the interior walls had plexiglass plates protecting the messages, symbols, and pictures scraped into the stone walls by former prisoners.
Addie especially enjoyed walking along the tower walls – it was a great opportunity for her to get out of her pack and stretch her little legs!
We had a quick lunch of miso soup and noodles at Wagamama. Though it is a chain, the first Wagamama opened in London in 1992. I ate there with my friend Susana in 1998, and loved it, so I was especially pleased when one opened in Boston in 2007. They are now all over the world, so try one it if you get a chance!
We had an incredible view overlooking the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. The kids had a great time trying to eat with chopsticks, some with more success than others. Addie loved the noodles, and insisted on feeding herself!
We got to digest our meal during a relaxed boat ride on the river Thames on our way to Greenwich. It was a great way to see a lot of major sites without the hassle of pushing through crowds. The kids had a great time taking pictures and listening to the tour guide explain the history of London, as well as point out lesser known historical sites.
Our last stop of the day was Greenwich, England, home of the Prime Meridian! The kids had a great time climbing the hill to the Royal Observatory to take their photo while straddling the 0 percent longitude line, one foot in the eastern hemisphere, the other in the left. There was also a cool camera obscura setup at the observatory, much like the giant camera obscura in San Francisco.
We also climbed to the top of the Observatory (which was built in 1676!) to see the Grubb refracting telescope (built in 1893!), and stopped by Shepherd’s Gate 24-clock, which displays Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Before heading down the hill to Greenwich Park, we stopped to take photos of the Royal Naval Academy and London in the distance. It was a clear day, so the view was incredible.
After visiting the observatory, we walked through Greenwich Park to the National Maritime Museum. Addie loved running around the beautiful green space. She also practiced balancing while walking along the curb, and took her first unassisted steps up a staircase (no helping hand or railing to balance with)! She was very proud of herself, and kept doing it over and over.
We didn’t spend a lot of time in the museum, but we did find a small play area for kids. They had dress up clothing (which our teenagers eagerly donned) and a play kitchen. Addie loved it, and cooked us some “seafood.”
Dinner was at a small pub, and we had lots of fish & chips, cheese, breads, and other treats. Kendra ordered a tartlet for herself, and Addie ended up eating the entire thing!
Today was a great day, particularly because the slower pace allowed us to spend more time exploring and less time traveling. Addie got a lot of opportunities to stretch her legs and run around, and the kids enjoyed wandering through Greenwich on their own.