Friday, May 04, 2007

Tower of London

The Tower of London was the major excitement for today. It is the fortress surrounding the tower built by William the Conqueror soon after he invaded England in 1066 AD.

We were led on a tour by a beefeater--a military officer officially called a Yeoman Warder. He was pretty funny, and he told us stories and shared some of the history of the different towers, gates, and walls. Many of the stories focused on executions, which seems to have been quite popular back in the day. After the tour, I saw the crown jewels, looked at the armoury in the White Tower, and saw a replica of the rack and other torture devices.

In the afternoon we visited the British Museum again for a few hours. Today I looked at some of the Indian and Chinese exhibits. I was amazed at the intricacy of the craftsmanship many of the artifacts. I was also amazed at how expansive the former British Empire must have been for them to collect and bring back all of the items in the museum.

Tonight I went to a classical concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church. A small group of us from the London Centre took the tube to the church to listen to one of the last concerts before the church is closed for a few months for remodeling. For £5 ($10) we got balcony seats where we couldn't really see the performers.

A small ensemble of violins, a harpsichord, a bass, and a flute performed pieces from Bach, Vivaldi, Pachelbel, and Handel. I really liked Pachelbel's Canon in D, and my favorite was Summer from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. The music was amazing. The harpsichord added a lot to the performance.

I really liked that the lead violinist explained several musical symbols (storms, wind, complaining workers) before they played the piece from Four Seasons. It was fun (and educational) to have someone explain the music a bit.

The Tube was delayed all over the place today, so it took quite a while to make it around. After the concert a few of us stopped by the singles dance at the LDS Hyde Park Chapel (not many people). I quickly left after finding that my friends weren't there and I had to take three different trains to make it a few blocks because of delays. I eventually made it home, though. I'm starting to catch on a little bit finding my way around London.

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