Yesterday we wrapped up a long week of orientation with a trip into the city for some unbelievable sightseeing.
Our first stop, the Tower of London, is a 12th-century relic right beside the Thames, surrounded by the sleek modern-looking buildings that have sprung up in recent decades. (Interesting contrast, right?) It's served several functions over the centuries, from a fortress guarding the far end of London, to the onetime residence for the royal family, to (most infamously) a feared and bloody prison. It contains the spot where Mary, one of the wives of Henry VIII, was executed, as well as Lady Jane Grey and seemingly innumerable others. Some of the towers still bear writing on the walls that prisoners carved during their time there, from little doodles to outright pleads to God. Very spooky - and the British called themselves civilized! On a more positive note, the royal crown jewels are also stored there, in an extremely high-security vault, and I enjoyed seeing so many crowns and scepters from times of old all the way to the present Queen Elizabeth II.