The day had come on Wednesday for the Lion King play. I woke up and started to sing the theme song already prepared. Before the play we went to the Tower of London. This was probably one of my favorite things that we decided to do. It is something that should be a scheduled event in the future for the study abroad trip. The Tower of London is a historic castle that has a grizzly past. It was the place where tortures took place on Tower Hill and executions of criminals. Even royalty has been executed there by beheading. At that time there was a draw bridge that came down to allow access to the castle, around the castle there was a dug-out ditch full of water from the River Thames. Tigers actually roamed the courtyard at the time. Even more interesting were the many more animals over the years that were on display here. Among these were porcupines, raccoons, bears, lions, monkeys, and many more. One of the kings actually had a polar bear that would be tied to a rope and put in the River Thames, so that it could fish. Even more impressive was the Crowned Jewels located in a large safe in the castle. There are two legendary jewels, one from Indian and one from South Africa, that have been used for as decoration for royalty. In this large collection there are many beautiful crowns, rings, and scepters. Finally, that night we went to Lion King and it was a great experience. It had the same great storyline and I thought the cast did a great job. It was aimed at more singing than technicality of acting, but I think this was expected given the many songs in the movie.
Yesterday we had a long, but enjoyable day with Constable Richard Watson and Constable Phil Cole. We arrived at New Scotland Yard, this is the famous headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Force. We first had a walking tour which took to the Prime Minister's house at Number 10 Downing Street. We were allowed to go inside the gates and take pictures at his door. After that we had the even more prestigious honor of going into the gates of Buckingham Palace. We watched the changing of the color performed, all the time while people were watching us trying to figure out who we were. Following lunch we listened to a presentation by officers of the police force. We were told about the protest groups in London and how the force deals with them. After that we listened to Constable Watson tell us about all the planning and preparation that went into the 2012 London Olympics.
Today we got up early and had a day trip to Oxford University, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Warwick Castle. We toured the prestigious universities of Oxford and awed at the amazing architecture once again. After that we caught a bite to eat in Stratford-upon-Avon where William Shakespeare was born and also where he died. To conclude we went to Warwick Castle, my favorite part of the day. Here we went to the high wall of the castle and climbed the spiral staircase to the top of one of the towers. We went down into the jail where prisoners used to be kept. Here there were very poor conditions that amounted to small opening for light, as well as a little jail even further down that was barely enough room to move in. Still at the castle we went to the pretty Peacock gardens that was decorated with a well and shrubs. After that we watched a birds of prey show which consisted of two bald eagles, an owl, a vulture, and the largest raptorial bird the Andean Condor. The birds were trained to fly very low and it seemed that the Condor in particular was about to take our heads off. The occasional peacock and mallard got their moments of fame by either walking into the arena or flying by. After a long bus ride back to our hotel we were ready to relax.
Tomorrow will be our last full day in London before we depart back to Nebraska. We have plans to go to Camden market to buy some final souvenirs and possibly stop into the British Museum near the hotel if time allows. I will say this experience has been a once in a lifetime thing and I happy I came, at the same time you really can't beat the "Home of the Good Life" in Nebraska.
Here was the large spiral staircase at the Tower of London, it is the same design at Warwick Castle.
A crow digging in the trashcan for food at the Tower of London. This bird group is said to be the second smartest only to the group made up of parrots.
The only animals that are still left at the Tower of London are the several crows.
This is a view of Warwick Castle from the entrance.
A view form the top of one of the towers.