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I had always thought that the Tower of London was just a tower (given its name), so I was rather amused to learn that it was a royal palace and fortress! Before I learned that the Tower of London wasn’t merely a tower, some historical facts hadn’t made much sense. For example, I hadn’t understood why queens would stay in a tower before their coronation. Weren’t prisoners kept there before their beheading? Why would anyone want to stay there if they didn’t have to? Now that I know that the Tower of London is more than just a tower for prisoners, these sort of things have taken a new light.

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I had thought they were doing some sort of repair work but it was actually part of the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” exhibit that is currently going on at the tower of London! I wish it had been on display while I was there, but I’ll just have to appreciate it through the photos online.

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The Yeoman Warder tour was the most entertaining tour I have ever been on! The guides are nicknamed Beefeaters, and they are great storytellers with dramatic voices. I loved listening to both historical facts and myths while standing at the place they had happened.

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There was a long line in front of this building to see the Crown Jewel exhibition, and the line pretty much continues inside the exhibition all the way up to the Crown Jewel display. The Crown Jewels were magnificently decorated with gems and diamonds. The size of the Cullinan diamond was hard to believe! Of course, it must have been bigger before it was cut to have part of it put in the Sovereign’s Sceptre and the other in Imperial State Crown. I had mixed feelings about how the crowns were displayed though. They were aligned in a row with an escalator belt on either side. I thought it was a brilliant way to keep people moving, but felt slightly annoyed that I had waited all that time to get a mere passing glimpse at them.

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It looks like he’s peeping out from under his bearskin hat! I do wonder if those bearskin hats cause any neck or eye problems. I know that the Korean traditional headdress for queens caused a lot of neck problems due to their weight, even for actors today.

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I wonder what the ornament on the side of the bearskin hat means? Perhaps ranking?

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The Tower of London is right next to the River Thames where Tower Bridge is located. I think it’s one of the prettiest bridges I’ve ever seen! I didn’t actually get to cross the bridge for lack of time, but I will have to visit again some day. Perhaps go inside and see the exhibit there.

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You can also see the city hall across the river. I think the shape looks kind of like a motorcycle helmet. Anyway, I had a wonderful time at the Tower of London. I wish I had cut out more time to see it; 3 hours was not nearly enough!

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The Seoul International Fireworks Festival is an annual event that takes place at the Han River. I learned about the festival when I saw photos of last year’s event on Facebook and was excited to finally get to see it for myself.  There were several places to watch the fireworks along the river, but the best place was in front of the 63 Building.

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The fireworks started at 7:30 pm so I decided to get there a few hours early to find a nice spot. To my surprise, the whole place was already covered in tents! People had staked out their spots starting as early as 6am in the morning! People were sitting on whatever space they could find be it on rocks, walls, or steep hillsides. I found a small space between the tents with my friend and we ate an early dinner and played cards while we waited for the event. Once it got dark and the tents came down there was more room for people to squeeze in. After an opening commentary they had a countdown to set off the first of the fireworks!

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It was a glorious night! It was really nice just get out there and forget about all the stressful things in life and fill it with color. There were a surprising range of  fireworks and they were all well choreographed to the music. It was almost a shame that I had to stay sitting down, I felt like getting up and dancing! I hope to see the festival again next year and will make sure I get there bright and early. Do you have any fireworks festivals near you?

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When I finally tore my eyes away from Westminster Abbey I was thrilled to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament just across the street! Part of my excitement came from the fact that I was standing in front of the world-famous building, and the second part was that I didn’t have to walk my tired legs too far to get a close look! Did you know that the name ‘Big Ben’ is actually a nickname for the heaviest bell inside the tower? The official name is The Great Bell of Westminster, and the clock is The Great Clock of Westminster. The tower itself is called the Elizabeth Tower, but for the sake of convenience I am just going to refer to it as Big Ben.

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At times like this I wish I could sprout wings so I could fly up there for a better look! I don’t have very good eyesight to begin with so it’s not always easy to see all the detail that are a fair distance away.

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I almost jumped up and down with excitement when the bells started ringing at noon! The photo is a minute after because I was taking video to record the sound of the bells. I haven’t figured out how to rotate my video without getting the tops and bottoms chopped off though. I haven’t done much video editing so I had completely overlooked the fact that videos are always in landscape orientation. You would think it would be a simple thing to rotate a video to portrait mode considering how easy it is to rotate photos. I will have to look more into the matter as it seems that it is possible to upload videos in portrait orientation to Vimeo. I just need to find an editor that will rotate it for me! Do you have any suggestions for me?

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I didn’t actually go inside the House of Parliament, but I was happy just seeing it from different angles as I crossed the Westminster Bridge.

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The fun thing about taking several photos of a clock is that you get a time stamp without the ugly yellow letters that the default camera settings will slap on the bottom of the photo. This photo has a bit of an odd angle to it. It was taken about a third of the ways across the bridge.

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On the other side you could see the London Eye. I think it looks much nicer at night when it’s lit up though.

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#inYourFootsteps

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It was nice leaning against the warm wall taking photos and watching boats appear from under the bridge. This area wasn’t quite so busy with tourists as the walkways of Westminster Bridge. Even though I was a tourist myself, I was happy to escape the crowd and find a peaceful moment in the day.

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As I was walking across the cross walk I was delighted to see a Taxi pulling up to a stop in front of me. I  really liked the shape of the car as it was not something I’ve seen elsewhere. Later as I was editing this photo I noticed the zig-zag markings on the street. I am told they alert the driver that they are approaching a cross walk. I found drivers in London to be quite considerate of pedestrians.

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While I was taking photos of iconic things, I also grabbed some snaps of the double-decker bus and the phone box! I was actually rather surprised by the state of most of the phone boxes I saw in London. They were pretty dirty so I never ended up going inside. I was keeping my eyes peeled for a cleaner one to take a photo and was happy to add this to my collection. What other iconic things remind you of London?

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