It was this obsession which drove me to find a police box in London.
For those of you who are non-Whovians, here’s what you need to know about Doctor Who relative to this post. Doctor Who is a British TV show that centers around a character called the Doctor. The Doctor is an alien, from a planet called Gallifrey. The Doctor can travel through all of time and space in his TARDIS (short for Time and Relative Dimension in Space), which you can think of as a spaceship. It looks like a police box, however.
Can you see now why I wanted to find a police box?
They have a TARDIS at the BBC studios in London, but I didn’t want to pay for a tour of the studios. Luckily for me, there’s just a random police box sitting outside the Earl’s Court Station in London. So I went there on April 4th, my second full day in London, and asked a random guy to take a picture of me by the police box. The guy was very obviously confused as to why I wanted a picture with it.
Afterwards I headed over to Royal Albert Hall, then walked through the Kensington Gardens to Kensington Palace. I then walked all the way through Kensington Gardens to Hyde Park, stumbling upon some lovely Italian fountains on the way. At the end of Hyde Park I found the Marble Arch, which was designed to be placed near Buckingham Palace. When Buckingham Palace was expanded, however, there wasn’t room for the arch, so it was moved to a new entrance for Hyde Park. Traffic lanes were rerouted some years later, which cut off the Marble Arch from Hyde Park, so now it’s on a little grassy island just apart from Hyde Park.
Following this I went back to the Tower of London. I had read that if you pay for any attraction, it should be the Tower of London, so I did it even though it cost me a fair deal of money.
It was totally worth it though. I ended up going with a free tour around the Tower, which was led by a Yeomen Warder. Yeomen Warders are ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London. They’re commonly known as Beefeaters, though nobody knows where the nickname originated from. Beefeaters must have served in the armed forces for at least 22 years before applying to become a Beefeater. They wear dark blue and red dress for everyday circumstances, but wear red and gold uniforms for special occasions. Our Beefeater told us that the red and gold uniforms cost 10,000 pounds (~$15,000 USD), so that’s why they’re only worn on special occasions.
The Beefeater told us numerous stories of all the executions and murders that have taken place at the Tower, which was really interesting. For example, I didn’t realize that two princes mysteriously disappeared, and some years later, the skeletons of two children were found buried on the Tower grounds. It’s also interesting because there’s a chapel in the Tower of London. Many years ago the flooring was redone because it was quite lumpy and uneven. They ended up unearthing some 1,500 bodies from underneath the chapel. This isn’t quite unusual in the fact that the bodies of the executed were taken back to the chapel and buried there. However, it is unusual in the fact that 1,500 people weren’t executed at the Tower or at Tower Hill; the number is less than 200. So where did all those bodies come from?
Gruesome, right? Also, torture did happen in the Tower, though not as much as popular fiction leads us to believe. The rack is quite well-known as being used in the Tower, but not many people know about the Scavenger’s Daughter. It’s the opposite of the rack–whereas the rack pulls your joints apart, the Scavenger’s Daughter folds your body together with crushing force.
Okay, enough talk of torture, executions, and murder.
But just one more thing. Prisoners were occasionally held in the Tower. Some of them made inscriptions into the walls of the towers they stayed in, and some of the inscriptions are incredibly intricate and interesting.
I ate fish and chips again after exiting the Tower of London, then I wandered around London for forever trying to find an adapter. I found 18 billion clothing stores, though. I was getting really frustrated because I couldn’t find one single electronics store, yet there were so many clothing stores. I became frustrated to the point of tears, at which point I decided to turn around and head back to the underground… and then I happened upon an electronics store. Hallelujah, I could charge my laptop again!
Afterwards I just sat around in Trafalgar Square for a while (I told you I liked it). At one point a random guy came up to me and asked me for the time; when I told him it was 6 he said, “Oh, I didn’t realize it was that late,” then he proceeded to sit near me on the fountain. First, odd. Generally when you say something like that it means you have to be somewhere and then you go rushing off, not sit next to a random person on the fountain. But whatever.
After a few minutes he started up a conversation with me, and I found out that he’s from Iraq but has been living in London for a while now. He said it’s been hard for him to make friends, which I would assume is why he started up a random conversation with me. Why me though? Was it because of my blindingly bright blue coat?
My new friend left to go somewhere else, and I decided to go walk over to look at the London Eye again (also told you that I liked this one). I just stayed on the bridge for a while and it was quite relaxing. I then bought some postcards and patches, and then I walked over to look at the London Eye. AGAIN. Not that I hadn’t been there just fifteen minutes previously.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
I think I just like being near water and looking at pretty things located near water.
I then went back yet again to Trafalgar Square, by which point the sun was setting. I then proceeded to walk over to the London Eye AGAIN (how many times can you go to the London Eye in one day? In my case, infinite) because apparently nothing interests me besides big Ferris wheels, and then I walked over to Big Ben. Afterwards, back to the hostel and bed.