On Thursday (21 May 2009) we were very disciplined tourists. We got up early, and, after an a phone interview in Belarusian Rashed had to give with Radio Liberty out of Prague, we rode the rails to London and took a Beefeater tour of the Tower. It is strange how easy it is to laugh at Henry VIII and his wives and various traitors who were tortured and murdered (those crazy, old-fashioned kids!), as if they were fictional characters and not real people. The ravens in the yards grunt and pick at unidentifiable bloody scraps, and it only improves our mood. I'm glad, though, that Rashed warned me of the tour guides' offensive humor. When ours makes a reference to Heart of Darkness, then comments that no one reads anymore, I surprise him by saying that I've read it, impressing him because I am 'blond, and a woman!' Later, he glares at me when a cell phone beeps, and I explain to him after the tour that I don't carry a cell phone. Maybe I've ruined his theories of young women; maybe I'm doing something to avenge those murdered wives?
The rest of the day, we zip from one place to another: an ice cream stand that charges £2.50 for an ice cream bar, a pretty boardwalk along the Thames (Tower Bridge is beautiful--London Bridge looks like the plain cement crossing between Maumee and Perrysburg, Ohio), the Monument (to the fire of 1666 and the rebuilding of London), Subway sandwiches, St. Paul's Cathedral (kind of sterile and too incense-y for me, but the views from the high galleries both inside and outside are magnificent), the Museum of London (free and fun!), the outside of Westminster Cathedral (with the bells pealing away like in the end of an old movie where the characters get married), Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.
We take the train back at 8:00, and we go to sleep feeling pretty good.