Tower of London and GIFT GIVEAWAY!

As I write this, I’m afraid I have a terrible cold. I had planned on posting this earlier. My apologies, dearest readers!

For those who have read my bio, you know that I love to travel. I’ve had the good fortune to visit a number of countries, and have seen some incredible cities and places. I even stood on the top of a volcano once and looked into its mouth. It was dormant, of course. Yet still it was a little scary and exhilarating.

And yet, despite having been to four continents, I’d never been to England. I don’t know why, really. It’s always been on my radar. And I was excited this year to go! My husband, the kids and I spent 8 days touring around London and the south of England. We had a fabulous time! We explored London, ate enough fish and chips to last several lifetimes, did the Jack the Ripper tour (at night!) and saw Stonehenge, Bath, Brighton, Hampton Court Palace – just to name a few.

For now…Let’s step into the infamous, TOWER OF LONDON.

Approaching the entrance…See it there on the right?

Inside the Tower of London visitors are met with two wooden signs that offer a concise description of the Tower and it’s history. The first read as follows:


The Tower of London was not built as a prison. Yet ever since its construction as a fortress and royal residence, people have been imprisoned here. Over the centuries the Tower has become a symbol of state authority and an object of fear.”

The next:


The story of imprisonment at the Tower of London is not simply the popular one of heroes and heroines forced to cower in rat-infested dungeons. The Tower has housed the nation’s most important prisoners of state, including kings and queens, as well as ordinary men and women caught up in momentous historical events. Royalty and aristocrats were usually held in luxurious and comfortable lodgings. Many prisoners were released after they won back royal favor. Others were set free after providing information. Some even escaped. However, if the government of the day considered that your religious or political beliefs posed a threat to national security, you could be locked up in solitary or ‘close’ confinement. Your next sight of the outside world may have been during the short journey to your execution.

During the Medieval and Tudor period, the Tower of London was a secure citadel where royal or aristocratic rivals could be kept out of sight. It was a place where religious opponents could be incarcerated during the turbulent years when Protestantism battled with Catholicism for national supremacy. Later still, the Tower housed political radicals, prisoners of war and disobedient soldiers.”

The famous TRAITORS’ GATE.

This is the gate prisoners entered the Tower, many never to return home again. The first photo is the outside view of the gate. The second is what the gate looks like inside the Tower grounds.

Most prisoners were marched outside its walls to the streets for a public execution. Only very important people were executed inside its walls in private. Our tour guide said, “You must be very well connected to be disconnected inside the Tower.”

Both wives of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, were executed on the Tower green.




The approximate spot where executions were done inside walls of the Tower of London. In the middle of this monument is a glass pillow and around the circle are the names of those executed on the Tower green. (Including King Henry VIII’s two unfortunate wives).

The Tower of London is made up of various towers and also houses the incredible, royal crown jewels of the monarchs of England. They date back to Cromwell. I don’t have any photos of them. For security reasons, photographing them is prohibited.

Apparently, they’re uninsured because they’re irreplaceable. Understandably, they don’t want any jewel thieves photographing their security system and plotting to steal the royal jewels. Talk about great stuff for a novel!

I did see this crown (stunning in person)…

…as well as many others including the small crown Queen Victoria had made (seen in this pic) because the larger ones gave her a headache. It’s breathtaking!

One of the views outside The Tower…”

There were wonderful gift shops in the Tower of London. I purchased some items, and I’m going to give one of the little gifts away to a random commenter who responds to the question below.

NOTE: You *must* be a follower of this blog to qualify.

I’ll select the winner and announced it on Friday. Sept. 17.

QUESTION: What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken?


Next time…I’ll be talking about beautiful Bath!

  • Great pictures, Lila! The trip sounds like a wonderful family vacation.

    I have two favorite vacations to tell you about.

    The first one was prior to kids. The hubby and I went to Israel for 10 days. We toured all through the country. We saw several different cities and enjoyed the local foods (falefels are yummy!). We went to the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. I even rode a camel. It was a wonderful experience.

    The second vacation is one our family took last summer. We spent a week in northern Arizona. Our boys had never been on an airplane and were so excited about it. We spent a day at Hoover Dam, one at the Grand Canyon, and the rest in the beautiful town of Sedona, surrounded by the red rocks. I even went on a hot air balloon ride. The kids enjoyed every single minute. We all have such wonderful memories of that trip.

  • Well we’ve never actually been on a real vacation. Best i can do is this. My husband is a truck driver. We own our own and we lease to a company and gosh about 4 years ago my husban took our youngest 2 boys ( we have 3)and i with him to Laredo Tx and back. We had a awesome time together and until besides my husband none of us had to been to Texas. We took alot of pics and saw alot of cool stuff and just spent the time together. I don’t think the boys will ever forget it.

    Lisa B

    modokker At yahoo dot com

  • Oh Lila!
    I’m sooo jealous!

    Lol, my fav vacay was the very first cruise bu hubby and I took. It was also the very first real vacations for us. Full of wonderful views, plenty of relaxing alone time and of course great drinks and plenty of Casino time!


  • Anonymous

    While being stationed at Ramstein Germany we were fortunate enough to do a little touring(very very hard with an infant and toddler!) We went to Neuschwanstein and the Palace, once with the in laws and once with my 20yr friend from home with her 2 kids! I know I am crazy! We also visited a couple of other castle ruins.
    I was was able to go on 2 USO tours one to Paris, at night got to see the Eiffel Tower at night from the River boat also had a 5 course meal I ate Es-cargo! Also got to see the Keukenhof Gardens, a local farm that still makes authentic wooden clogs and Gouda and Beach.
    One other we visited The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, General Patton’s Funeral and Burial Site.
    All in all Europe is a Beautiful country and I would love to some day go back -I am hoping to England.

  • Looks like you had a wonderful time. I took a trip over there with my husband four years ago. We got to travel through Europe for two weeks. It was his first trip over there and my 5th. The best part was that we had found out seven days before hand that we were expecting our now 3 years old son Walter. All through out the trip we celebrated our sons arrival and our last trip for just the two of us. In Florence I had the chance to show him where I had lived when I went over there for a semester in collage. I had always dreamed of sharing the city with the man I loved and at last I was there with that very person. We plan on taking our son there in four years and though I will love showing him all of the wonders it wont be the same.

  • Smita

    Amazing Pics Lila!!! It sounds like you had a great time. I’ve actually had two amazing trips. The first vacation was in 2001 when I went to Spain with my parents. We were in Madrid and got to tour the city and went to Toledo as well. Had an amazing time.

    The second was this past summer when I went to the UK for two weeks. Was in Edinburgh, Aberystwyth and London and while I didn’t have alot of time in all three places, I ended up having a great time because I was able to reconnect with so many people and ended up realizing a few things about myself as well. So the trip was very meaningful on so many levels. :)

    Can’t wait to see the rest of the pics. :)


  • Wow, what an amazing vacation! I’m jealous. :)

    My best trip was to Japan in 2008. It was my 1st trip abroad and a dream for my DH, who studied Japanese in college. We had the time of our lives in Tokyo. We saw Mt. Fuji and walked the Geisha district in Kyoto, where we saw real Geishas and all the places featured in MEMOIRES OF A GEISHA. I’ll never forget it and hope to return to the Land of the Rising Sun someday soon.

  • Wow, the pics look amazing. I’m so jealous. I want to go to England so bad now that I read so many historicals. Hopefully one day. It’s on the list. The best vacation I’ve ever taken was to Las Vegas. I love it there. Been there 3 times in a 5 year period. Can’t wait to go back. It’s such an exciting city. Always something to do and see.

  • We went to Florida for Disney vacations in 2008 and 2009. I absolutely loved it and can not wait to go back again. We want to get to Europe too!

    I am a follower.

    robin [at] intensewhisper [dot] com

  • Hi Buffie! What amazing trips! I’ve never been to either place and you make me want to go to both! Not sure about the camel ride, though. LOL. Camels scare me. Thanks so much for sharing!


  • Hi Lisa B – I would *definitely* consider that a vacation. It sounds as though you had a lot of fun and made a great memory for you, hubby and the kids to cherish. :)


  • Hi Kate – Yay! A cruise is great fun! Sounds like a wonderful time. :)


  • Oh wow, April! What awesome places you’ve been to!! Ah, Paris…It still remains my all time favorite city in the world. Couldn’t eat the escargot, but my husband and daughter did! :)


  • Oh, Rebecca—How romantic and lovely! Your comment made me smile. Florence is such a gorgeous city and you got to fulfill your dream. :) Sounds as though you’ve seen a number of wonderful places. Europe is full of them!


  • Hi Smita – Thanks for the lovely compliment! And thanks for sharing your trips! They both sound great–especially the one to the UK where you had a trip of self-discovery, too!


  • Hi Jena – Your trip to Japan sounds absolutely amazing!! I’ve never been to Japan. Now I really really want to go!

  • OOOO, Danielle! I LOVE Vegas! I’ve been there twice. You’re so right about it being fabulous and that there’s tons to see and do. :)


  • I totally agree, Robin! Disney ROCKS! LOVE IT THERE! Thanks so much for sharing. :)


  • Aww, Lila, It looks like you’ve been on an AMAZING vacation! Sorry for you cold! (I loathe colds in summer!)
    All those wonderful places!! I am green with envy and happy you were able to experience those wonders with your family!! (make sure to pack me up in your largest suitcase when you decide to go back to Bath! lol)

    As for the best vacation I’ve ever taken, I’d have to say I haven’t been on many, and none really were overly spectacular. My grandparents have a second house in South Carolina, and some of my fondest memories are the ones when we spent Christmas in the south. Lots of southern hospitality and all the food I could eat (even at 6 I had an appetite of a 30 year old man!). Those are the only vacations I’ve ever really went on. There were long nights of gathering around the card table and hearing the chorus of “Bullshit!” and the hanging out with billions upon billions of cousins, (once again) awesome food,and just lots of love. They were simple ‘holidays’ away from all the stresses of the city, and they’re best I’ve got to offer so far,lol.

    But I do want to make traveling a habit in the future. I want to take a personal holiday to England and the british isles, all by myself. Explore at my leisure, visit what I want, when I want. Spend days at a time visiting the same museums and historical landmarks, just because I find it relaxing. I want to pillage the shops during the days, visit the theaters on the west end at night, go to Cotswolds to just stop and gape at the beauty, and read Shakespeare in the sunlight and under some shabby tree. I want to go to Ireland too, and check out the castles and rolling hills. There are just so many places I want to go!

    Thanks for sharing Lila! (and omg at the spot where Anne and Catherine were executed. Didn’t you get the shivers?!?..If I ever grow the balls to visit Alcatraz prison in San Fransisco (do tourist get to visit?), I know I’ll just freak out..-of course, knowing that about myself, I’ll still end up going, just because it interests me! lol..common sense has no place on the front lines of curiosity! ;] )

  • Went to Aruba about 10 yrs ago for a week. The weather was perfect, the water incredible, the people friendly, one of the most relaxing weeks ever (I’m sure being completely cut off from work, etc had nothing to do with it ;D)

    Also loved a short cruise to mexico & key west (also very relaxing and lots of great food) and a short vacation to S Dakota (incredible natural scenery and wildlife :) — buffalo herd grazing by the park road is pretty wild for an mid-atlantic girl)

  • The best Trip I have ever had was a trip up 101 on the coust of Ca.camping in miny spots along 101 the ocean was breat taking the trees of mistory was ah inspiring.And ahole lot of more places along the way all the way in to organ.Loved it wish I could do it again.
    I’m a follower of this blog Via GFC

  • Hi Rita! I just loved reading your comment. I really enjoyed your description of your vacation with your grandparents! I hope you get to every one of the places you want to visit! :) As for Alcatraz, yes they let visitors in. I have some pics of my visit there on my website.

    As for the spot Anne and Catherine were executed, it definitely gave me pause!

  • Hi gamistress66 — I love your trips! They all sound great. I really enjoy those trips where you just unwind and relax. You come back feeling so recharged. Thanks for sharing! :)

  • Hi Stacey — Sounds like a great trip! And with a beautiful view! Thanks for stopping by and sharing it. :)


  • Well, I’m kind of hoping that my best vacation ever is still to come. We have a couple planned for next year.

    So far though, I’ve been on a couple of amazing cruises (although the company was not as good as it could have been) but the trips were awesome – and taken when I was far too young to really appreciate them.

    I just wanted to say that I am absolutely fascinated with your trip photos. The Tudor period is one of my obsessions. I’ve read all of Philippa Gregory’s books and admit that I am in love with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the crazy King in The Tudors (final season starts in a couple of weeks! YaY!). Anyways, loved looking at your photos – thanks so much for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Love the blog, thanks for sharing. My niece is coming home from London tonight!!!

    My favorite trip — Italy!

    Danielle D

  • Hi Kathy! I like what you say, “I’m kind of hoping that my best vacation ever is still to come.” Well put! :)

    Thanks so much! I’m glad you like the pics. There are more to come!

  • Hi Danielle D – OOO! Italy is fabulous! My second favorite city in the world is Venice. *sighs*

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Lila, what lovely pictures of the Tower.Brings back memories of the wonderful holiday I had last year – which also happens to be my best vacation. Three weeks in England and Ireland, a vacation I’d been planning since I was in my teens. It was a dream come true to finally visit Ireland, which I now think of as the “home of my heart.” I can’t wait to go back!

  • Hi Cynthia – Thank you! I’m so glad you like the pics. Your trip sounds amazing! I totally understand “home of my heart”. I feel that way every time I’m in France. Hope you get to see Ireland again soon! :)