Oh, London.

A little backstory: I first visited London over ten years ago when I was living in Spain for my college junior year abroad. My good friend, Iris, and I were lucky enough to spend the six weeks between semesters backpacking around Europe including five days in London over New Year’s. While I recall being impressed with the city’s sites and culture, its expensive prices and horrible winter weather left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth that lasted over a decade.

Only in the last six months, when daydreaming about this trip, did I finally come back around to giving the city another shot.

Visiting the Tower of London was #1 on my to-do list. I’ve always been super interested in history and, as mentioned previously, King Henry VIII, his wives and children have always intrigued me. For those unfamiliar, Henry reigned from 1509-1547. After his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (or Catalina de Aragon as I learned of her in her native Spain), was unable to give him a male heir, he divorced her after 24 years of marriage to marry Anne Boleyn. Because the Catholic Pope wouldn’t absolve his first marriage to Catherine in order to allow him to marry Anne, he effectively broke off the entire country from the Catholic religion and created the Protestant Church of England.

The Tower of London is where Queen Anne Boleyn was held and then executed, three years after her coronation, in 1536 after also not being able to provide her husband a male heir (she was tried and executed for adultery though this was never proven).

The below shows a memorial for those executed within the Tower at Tower Green. Most executions were publicly held at Tower Hill nearby, so it was considered an act of love that Henry had her executed within the privacy of the Tower walls. (Still seems pretty harsh to me.)


On a completely different note, many of you know I’m currently obsessed with the Game of Thrones book series. Here are some other shots from within the Tower that had me imagining the scenes from the books.

Next we visited the British Museum. I was especially excited to see both their Greek and Egyptian exhibits. Back in the early 1800s, when British archaeologists were traversing the globe, thousands of priceless ancient artifacts were removed from their home countries and taken to England for ‘preservation’. Most of these artifacts are now on exhibit in London’s British Museum to the chagrin of the people in their native country, but the museum is refusing to return them. It’s a tricky situation as some of the pieces truly are better protected from pollution and debasement in the museum… It was interesting to see things from the British side after hearing the Greek point-of-view when I was there in September.


  
  
  

Lastly I visited Westminster Abbey.

This ended up being the most difficult site to see since the church is only open for a limited number of hours a day while also frequently closing to visitors for various services throughout the week. Pictures weren’t allowed inside but welcomed in the courtyards outside.

This was absolutely amazing to visit; the site is so rich in history both past and present. Here both Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) and Queen Elizabeth I (the Virgin Queen) are buried, as well as where current reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, was coronated. Most importantly this is where Prince William and Kate Middleton were married in 2011!

All in all, this go around of London was exponentially better than the last. The weather was amazing (in the 70s and 80s with only a little bit of cloud cover) and of course the options open to a thirty something are infinitely better than those to a twenty year old backpacker on a budget 🙂


Thanks for reading!

xo Carrie