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London Trip 2016: Tower of London and Wagamama Japanese Restaurant

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Tower of London in the afternoon

The Tower of London is a historic castle located in central London and very close to other tourist attraction which was Tower Bridge.  It was founded towards the end of 1066. The castle was used as a prison from 1100 until 1952 although that was not its primary purpose. A grand palace early in its history, it served as a royal residence. The Tower of London consists of several buildings set. The area is huge and to explore everything inside the area, you will need at least 3 hours.

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Tower of London with an outdoor ice skating rink in front of it which was opened to celebrate Christmas and New Year

The Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times, and controlling it has been important to controlling the country. The Tower has served variously as an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public record office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of England.

The castle was used as a prison for many famous people , such as Henry Laurens (President of the US Congress in 1777 during the American War of Independence), Rudolf Hess (Hitler’s Deputy), including Anne Boleyn who was beheaded here. Today, Tower of London is cared for by the charity Historic Royal Palaces and is protected as a World Heritage Site.

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The majestic Tower of London

We arrived in the Tower of London less then 2 hours before closing time (nearest tube station was Tower Hill). The lady in the ticketing counter did warn us before we purchased the tickets that it was almost closing time and suggested to come back again tomorrow morning so we would have more time to explore. Since it was our last day in London, we politely refused her advice and still bought the tickets. She said that we should hurry and suggested that we see the Crown Jewels first.

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Entrance door to the Tower of London

Only the boy and I went inside and we literally had to run from one tower to the other because we intended to see everything in such a short time. I still wanted to spend more time actually and looked carefully and read every information in every exhibit because it was very interesting, but there was no time, so I just took photos of most of the information and read that at home.

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The first thing that we saw when we entered the tower was this catapult

If you’re not familiar with the Crown Jewels, then you should watch Minions the movie. In the movie, the Minions wanted to steal the Crown Jewels for Scarlett Overkill (the world’s most evil villain) to prove their worth. So, we were going to see the real Crown Jewels that was shown in that cartoon movie. We followed the lady in the ticketing counter advice and run (and yes, we literally run) to see the Crown Jewels first.

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The big building behind me was where we saw the Crown Jewels and other things such as crowns, swords, clothes that were used during the inauguration of the new kings and queens.

 

Entrance to the Crown Jewels

The guard in front of the tower. Photography was not allowed inside this tower.

Everything was very beautiful, but as I said, no photography inside the building, so I have no documentation at all.

One of the reason why you should visit Tower of London is because this castle is so different than the others. It had a long history and some of them were very dark, like betrayal, murders, tortures and deaths. We had different feelings when we were inside the tower than when we were in the Leeds Castle. We had this gloomy feeling and it was quite creepy especially when night came. Even the boy said it was scary and he could feel there were ghosts inside the tower. Well, okay, ignore that last part since I don’t believe in ghosts………………

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Castle ruins……………..our favorite part was to see real castle ruins

 

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The White Tower, which gives the entire castle its name, was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was a resented symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite

 

Where should we go next?

Where should we go next?

Tower of London was so huge and it consists of some big and tall towers. Every tower had its purpose, for example: for torturing prisoners in the Tower of Torture. The boy refused to enter at first, but I told him it was okay and since we were there, we should go inside and see what was inside. Of course, we only spent little time in here because it was quite depressing actually to see the real equipment to torture people.

The Rack was The Tower of London most infamous torture instrument. The iron frame containing three wooden rollers would keep the victims stretched.

The Rack (right picture) was The Tower of London most infamous torture instrument. The iron frame containing three wooden rollers would keep the victims stretched.

Torture was very rare in England. Torture was ordered for at least 81 prisoners, and 48 of them were held in the Tower of London. In several cases, they were brought from other prisons to be tortured here. These documented cases happened between 1540 and 1640 for prisoners who were being investigated in serious crimes such as robbery or murder. Particularly in the late 16th and 17th centuries, torture was used on political prisoners, accused of treason. Torture was never officially a part of English Law.

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A very small window at the Tower of Torture (does this mean that there was no hope for the prisoner to survive?

There was also another inhuman torture worse than The Rack, and it was called “The Scavenger Daughter” which was the complete opposite of The Rack. The torture could crush the prisoner’s body with a hellish compression while the body was folded into three. Okay, enough said about the torture and let’s move on to the next exhibit in the next tower.

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Medieval Palace and Wall Walk

Wall Walks consists of: Prisoners of the Tower, Fortress, and Crowns & Diamonds Exhibition (no photography was allowed in the Crowns and Diamond Exhibition)

Medieval Palace consists of: Royal Beasts and Martin Tower (also, no photography was allowed in the Martin Tower)

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Entrance to the Medieval Palace and Wall Walks

 

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We could see Tower Bridge clearly from the entrance to The Medieval Palace and Wall Walks

 

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Suit of armor

What we really loved about The Tower of London was that we could really felt and imagined how it was in the olden days, and how life was in the past centuries ago. I watched The Other Boleyn Girl and somehow this place reminded me of that movie again. My son who loved to read stories about Medieval Period, also felt that it was like his imaginations became real inside the tower.

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Old fireplace

 

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The steep stairs

 

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Imagine walking here at night hundreds of years ago with an oil lamp or candles in one hand (I don’t think there was electricity back then)

 

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Imagine what life was centuries ago inside the tower……………..

 

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We imagined the soldiers were guarding this tower from the enemies from here. They could see if the enemies were coming from this security post and warned the other soldiers

 

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View from the top

 

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I loved that everything and everywhere was so beautiful that I couldn’t stop taking pictures

I thought that in such a short time I couldn’t take many pictures, but I was wrong. There were so many pictures and it was very difficult to choose which ones I would keep and post in this blog.

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Monkeys………………and that meant we were very near to the next exhibit: Royal Beasts

 

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Entrance to The Royal Beasts

What do you give someone who has everything? How about strange and valuable animals! For a long time, powerful rulers tried to impress each other by exchanging living gifts. From 1210 England’s royal beasts lived and died here in the tower.

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One of the royal beast inside the cage, hahaha………….

Back then, visitors were allowed very close to the animals, sometimes with terrible consequences. They were attacked by lions, snakes, wolves, leopards, and monkeys. One victim was Mary Jenkinson in 1686. She was stroking a lion’s paw when it suddenly caught her arm with his claws and mouth and tore her flesh from the bones. Surgeons amputated her arm but she died soon after. The last keeper, Mr Cops, was almost killed by a large snake. He was saved when the other keepers broke the snake’s teeth.

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At the tower, people were able to visit animals they would never see in the wild

 

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A lion’s skull from Africa

 

At the tower, a tiger cub was fed soup instead of raw meat and his keeper felt this way he was particularly tame.

At the tower, a tiger cub was fed soup instead of raw meat and his keeper felt this way he was particularly tame

Although it was still incredibly popular attraction, the Royal Menagerie was closed to public in 1832 and most of the animals were transferred to the new London Zoo. The King and The Duke of Wellington, who was Constable at the tower, decided the animals had to go after a series of attacks on visitors and staff. Today, the ravens are the only wild animals kept at the tower.

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The Raven’s Lodge

 

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Outside The Royal Beasts Exhibition was another tower. Seriously, how big was this place?

 

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Keyholes in the olden days

 

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I just loved the glass windows, but the boy said it would be scary if somehow we could see someone’s face starring behind one of the window, hahaha……………

 

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Old and modern buildings mixed into one

 

Next, we went to the other side of the area and we saw The Bloody Tower, and of course, from its name only, you can imagine what you will find inside this tower…………..

Important prisoners were held in this towerincluding two Archbishops of Canterbury

Important prisoners were held in this tower,including two Archbishops of Canterbury

 

The very famous one was the story of the two Princesses

The very famous one was the story of the “Two Little Princes” who were said to have been murdered here

In 1483, after the death of Kind Edward IV in April, his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester, brought Edward’s two sons to the tower of London. No one had ever seen them again until 2 centuries later. While the workers were demolishing the stairs of the tower, they found an old wooden chest and discovered the broken bones of the two children inside the chest. The bones were re-buried in the Westminster Abbey.

From the Bloody Tower, we entered the Beauchamp Tower which was a prison back then for many famous people such as this lady:

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Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII was sent to the tower in 1536

Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery and for the 16th century queen, this was considered treason and was punished death. By a cruel twist of faith, Anne was imprisoned in the same room that had been lavishly refurbished by order of the King, prior to her coronation in 1533. A few day later, Anne was beheaded by a french swordsman.

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Fire place in the Beauchamp Tower

 

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Some prisoners tried to escape from the tower, some were succeed while some also failed and felt to death

 

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The stairs to the second floor

 

It was almost dark although it was just 4 pm

It was almost dark although it was just 4 pm

As it was getting dark, we decided to end our exploration inside the tower and went out. By luck, we actually managed to see everything although it was very tiring as we had to run from one place to another. Surprisingly, we also still had some time before closing time so we decided to take pictures in the big yards.

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Behind the boy was the place for the Crown Jewels

 

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The big house that was closed for public viewing

 

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Tower Bridge in the background

 

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My turn now…………..the boy took my picture with Tower Bridge in the background

 

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The White Tower in the evening

 

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We loved Tower Bridge

 

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Tower Bridge and the castle ruins, so pretty………………

It was already very dark when we finally ended our tour around the towers. We were among the last people who left the area (the exit gate near the Tower Bridge was already closed by the time we left, so we had to take another exit gate). The boy said it was even scarier at night, although I told him that I would like to try spending the night here to really feel what was life in the past………………..

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People were leaving as we still stayed to enjoyed the last minutes of our visit

 

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The last picture with the cannons before we finally left the towers…………

We were so tired and hungry when we left Tower of London (but not cold because we were running from one place to another in the towers). Thankfully, we found a Japanese restaurant near the souvenir store. How did we know it was a Japanese restaurant?

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This was the only sign: Wagamama

Well, I’ve read in a blog post about London Trip and this blogger (which was also a mother) recommended this restaurant and she said this was very good. She reviewed about the one in Windsor, so I was very happy to finally see this restaurant just across Tower of London when we were so hungry.

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Inside Wagamama Restaurant

There were also other eating places near Tower of London, but they only served bread and sandwich, while we wanted something hot like soup or noodle. Actually, we already decided to go back to the hotel and eat in the restaurant near the hotel, so we were very happy when we saw Wagamama just right when we were going to walk back to the tube station.

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Ahungry faces

The inside of the restaurant was big and we didn’t see many people that night as it wasn’t dinner time yet. Service was good and fast, and the staff were friendly and helpful.

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2 types of soy sauce, chili oil, and salt just like what you usually see in a Japanese restaurant

 

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Free ocha drink

The boy was so hungry that he started eating as soon as a plate of gyoza and ebi katsu was served on the table. I loved that the restaurant had a proper chili sauce which surprisingly tasted good (which was very important to me, hahaha…………).

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Chicken Steamed Gyoza

 

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Ebi Katsu

 

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Look who already started to eat because he was so hungry………………….

I ordered ramen because this special Wagamama Ramen was highly recommended in the blog. I am not a big fan of ramen, and to be honest………………I never really like ramen even until now. I’ve tried so many ramen restaurants in Jakarta and Singapore and they were highly recommended by a lot of people, but I never really liked it. One time, my friends and I went to a very famous ramen restaurant and while everyone praised how good it was, I was the only one who didn’t even have a clue of what was so delicious about the dish. I didn’t like the soup, the noodles, the meat, the chili, and even the egg as I didn’t like eating egg (soft boil, hard boil, omelette, half cooked, or whatever it is……………..I am not a big fan of egg). So, I purely ordered this ramen just because I was curious about the taste and whether I would finally like ramen after I tasted the dish.

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My order was Wagamama Ramen: grilled chicken, barbecue pork, prawns, chikuwa and mussels on top of noodles in a miso, ginger and chicken broth. topped with pea shoots, wakame, menma and half a tea-stained egg

To my surprise………….I loved it! I really did like it! The soup was different. It was very light to my taste which was why I loved it so much. Even the boy liked it (he still doesn’t like ramen except for this one. The meat, the noodles, the egg, and even the chili sauce (from gyoza dish) were suitable for my taste. This was actually the first time that I liked ramen. It was hot and so refreshing.

Daddy's order was Teriyaki chicken donburi: chicken in teriyaki sauce with sticky white rice, shredded carrots, pea shoots and onions. garnished with sesame seeds and served with a side of kimchee

Daddy’s order was Teriyaki chicken donburi: chicken in teriyaki sauce with sticky white rice, shredded carrots, pea shoots and onions. garnished with sesame seeds and served with a side of kimchee. He said it was also good

 

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Let’s mix the donburi

 

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The boy’s dish of the night: A bowl of rice, a bowl of noodle, one plate of gyoza, and one plate of ebi katsu. Growing up certainly needs a lot of energy……………and food………………hahaha…………..

From where we sat, we had a good view to The Tower Bridge which was very bright at night time. Overall, it was really a good meal for all of us and we were very full when we left the restaurant. It was such an exhausting day.We were relieved when we finally able to rest in the hotel.

 

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Author: cruiseoflife

Hi there. I'm from Indonesia but now live quite far away from my home country. I love cooking for my family. I learned how to cook for the first time from my mom and I believe that mom's cooking is always the best, and I do hope that my son will feel the same too even though he grows up so fast. I love Indonesian food as I grew up with it, and I promise to myself that my son, although he doesn't live in Indonesia right now, will always like and enjoy authentic Indonesian food. I make this blog so that my family will always remember our togetherness and happy time that we had, are having, and will have when we eat together and have good memories about a mother's love through her dishes. Hopefully these recipes will help other people to make healthy home cooked dishes for their families.

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