Sunday, June 25, 2017

London Dubai 2017 - 8

May 20th, 2017, Saturday.  It was a beautiful day in London.  The sun started to shine from 5am, the sky was blue.

Big Ben on a Sunny Day

We quickly went to Westminster again, to see the cultural icons of United Kingdom again.  My friend commented that it made a great difference in a gloomy day and a sunny day.  The sun acted like a giant studio light shining on the Big Ben and Palace of Westminster, created a beauty dish effect.  Of course, the subject would look flawless.

Next stop was Cleopatra's Needle at Embankment station.   Cleopatra's Needle is a collective name for 3 ancient Egyptian obelisks in London, Paris and New York.  The one in London and New York were a pair in ancient Egypt, the one in Paris was also part of a pair.  The other one in this pair is still standing in the Temple of Luxor.

Cleopatra's Needle London

So far, I have seen the one in Luxor, in Paris, and now in London.  New York should be my next destination!  My observation is the Luxor/Paris pair are much taller.  They reach out to the sky, as if a giant stretching its hand out to touch the sun.  The one in London is quite a dwarf in contrast.

The days of people having a fancy of obelisks were gone.  The Cleopatra's Needle stands quietly at the bank of River Thames, hardly a visitor, save some joggers passing by and a few obelisk enthusiasts like myself.

Continuing our journey, we arrived at the famous Tower of London.  Tower of London is actually not a single tower, not even a single building, but a collection of towers, castles built over the centuries by various kings and queens.  You can walk along the inner wall, which is lined with the older, more barren chambers.  However, you can have a good view of London's ultra modern south bank architectures, including the Shard.

London South Bank

A royal bed chamber was created on this section of the wall.  Well, it looks good, but probably still not as good as the bed room of any modern 5-star hotel, probably not even as good as a commoner's bed room in sunny Singapore's HDB flat.  Despite all the ills associated with our modern society, we should always remind ourselves that we now live a life better than many kings and queens in history, enjoy the convenience and comfort that only the rich of the rich could afford probably just a century ago.

A Re-created Royal Bed Chamber

The crown jewel of Tower of London is none other than the Crown Jewels!  It is advisable to arrive early in the morning, the best is gain entrance when the tower opens its doors, to avoid the crowd.

Visitors Queuing to View the Crown Jewels

We arrived at Tower of London at around 9am, just at the opening time.  We didn't have to queue to view the crown jewels, but after we came out, that was what we saw at the entrance - a long queue!

No photography allowed in the exhibition hall. The entrance and exit are 8-in thick stainless steel doors.  The feel was kind of awe.  The worlds largest diamonds, Cullinan I & II, and the famous Koh-i-Noor were less than a meter away, yet they were so out of reach.  An even more strange feeling was that I had no feeling!  Largest diamonds in the world, but they look just like that resin diamond in the toy store!  Is my sour grape mentality at work?  Maybe.  Being a utilitarian, I don't have a higher level of satisfaction owning such diamonds.  I can't eat them, drink them.  They don't have any useful applications.   They don't even raise my social status.  Oh, well...

White Tower

In the center of Tower of London stands the White Tower.  It was first erected by William the Conqueror in 1066.  You see, those names you only see in your history textbook appear now.  Inside the White Tower, it is the Royal Armouries.

Royal Armouries

The Tower of London complex is huge.  Just walk around the whole place takes a few hours, not taking into account wait time and time to appreciate the exhibits.  If you want to see everything in a single day, I would suggest you start early in the morning.  Bring with you some drinking water, and plan ahead some stops for rest.  There is a cafeteria in the complex, with reasonably priced food.  You can schedule your lunch to avoid peak lunch hour.

If you start your day at 9am, then it is reasonable to expect to finish your tour at 2-3pm, including an hour for lunch.

So much for today, until next time, bye...

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