Saturday, August 4, 2012

Crown Jewels

It's surprising how much the time flies when you're traveling! So I promised last time that I would tell the tale of meeting up with my first roommate, Kit, and our adventures at the Tower of London.

Well, for starters, I should say that I am terrible at coordinating the national rail system. Every time I have purchased a ticket before the trip itself, I have missed said train. It's much better for me to just show up and hope I can buy a ticket there, honestly.

That being said, I of course missed my train. The next one didn't leave for another hour. I didn't have any way to let Kit know about this, because while I picked up an international phone, she did not. So I just sort of hoped that she would get to see it even if I was late.

As always, however, the English countryside made me contemplative. I realized that the American southwest has a beautiful countryside of its own. I never forgot this necessarily, but I sure was good at taking it for granted. It hit me that I miss the Sandias in New Mexico, all champagne-colored as the sun set in the west, the taste of green chili and the feeling of "home" that comes as naturally as breathing when I am in the desert.

Two hours late, I saw a familiar face pop up from the growing crowd of Central London.

Kit and I went to school together for only one semester, but it felt as if a lifetime of memories were packed into that time. She's just graduated with a degree in Awesome, and I think she might continue to get a Master's in "Be Jealous of Me." She is the first person that I have ever seen on more than one continent.

Turns out, her group was also two hours late. Serendipitous and unlikely as it was, I was really relieved to see her. We entered the Tower of London, a place filled with memories, histories, and stories.

These are the ravens of the Tower, who are kept here because it is said that if they ever leave, the Tower will fall. And we can't have that.

I can't share original pictures of the Crown Jewels, because it wasn't allowed. But this is a faraway and not-nearly-as-cool-as-the-real-thing picture:

It's amazing how dazzlingly bright those diamonds are. They sparkle with every color, blues and purples and greens and pinks. The setup was different than I expected, mostly because I expected what I saw in the BBC Sherlock show:

Instead, there were two moving walkways we could stand on to gaze at the power and wealth of a great and might monarchy. I went on both, and wanted to do it more than once. But Kit had other things she wanted to show us. So we also toured the Bloody Tower, the White Tower, and a few other colors of the British rainbow. It was fascinating to learn so much about English history all in one go. A bit overwhelming, to be honest. But it was a good tour.

(He's my favorite: a dragon made of weapons and coins)

Overall, it was an inspiring day. I feel as if this post doesn't do it justice. But it's been so long ago now. Soon, I'll let you know about my trip to Dublin!

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