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My wife and I have lived in London for over 24 years but we still consider ourselves as tourists.

 

Recently we decided to buy a year's joint membership of Historic Royal Palaces. This cost us £77.  We have unlimited access to 6 palaces.

Last Saturday we went for our first visit to Hampton Court Palace.  We have been there many times to sit by the river or picnic in the rose garden, but we had never before gone inside the palace.  We obtained our free audio guide and began with the Henry VIII tour - his kitchens and apartments.  It was so interesting.  The cooks made food for 600 people every day, and it was about 75% beef!  The whole court had to move on to another palace because they would exhaust the food supply of the local area!

The audio guide to the Royal Apartments was narrated as if by a courtier in the 16th century on the day of Henry's marriage to Catherine Parr. This really made the tour come alive for us.

After 2 hours we realised that we would definitely need multiple visits to see everything in the palace and the private gardens. 

As my wife and I are over 60, normal admission price would have been £17 each, so we were well on the way to seeing value for money.

 

On Wednesday we went to the Tower Of London.  Again free entry with our membership card, whereas concession fee on the gate is £19 each.  We got the audio guide at a discount here, not free.  Those two admissions so far would have cost us £72, so we are nearly breakng even on two visits!

Again, so much to see, far more than you can take in in one visit.  We toured the apartments of The Medieval Palace and the battlements.  It was quite tiring as there were many stairs, mostly spiral staircases, but it was fascinating.  We took a short break for a picnic we had brought with us and sat near the White Tower, William the Conqueror's castle and the first part of the Tower to be built.

After our break we continued the battlements tour and then went into the vaults to view the Crown Jewels.  Wow!  The Cullinan Diamond in the Royal Sceptre  is huge!  It is valued at about $2 billion today!   The state crown which the Queen will wear next week for the state opening of parliament has the Cullinan II diamond in it. They are exquisite.

 

We decided to then leave and visit Borough Market which had reopened that day after the terrorist attack there. It was almost closing but we managed to buy some 36month aged French Compte cheese, which is beautiful, and some olives.

 

Our next visit to the Tower, we plan to go to the Bloody Tower and see the torture and execution displays!  

 

The weather was very hot, but there were not the crowds that we thought would be there. Maybe the terrorist threat has reduced the number of tourists.

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