Today was our last morning in Manchester. We left around 8am for the two hour coach bus ride to Warwick Castle. There were different activities to do at the castle. We could walk the wall of the castle which contained 530 stairs. What a workout!! It offered gorgeous views of the city from the tops of the towers. There was also an eagle show where two bald eagles and a sea eagle were shown. They were trained to fly low to the ground in high spaces so the crowd could see them. They said some eagles can live to be 60 years old! We could also watch archers shoot homemade arrows. There was a dungeon tour, a ghost tour, and a wax figure tour. The wax figures were creepily lifelike…kind of scary! We saw people trying to talk to them to see if they were actually alive!
After a few hours at the castle, we were free to walk around the town. Some of us toured St. Mary’s Cathedral. The cathedral had lots of stained glass and art inside. The cemetery outside had some very intricate headstones as well. The oldest one we saw dated back to 1819, but some of them were hard to read. We learned that back at that time they would bury a few generations of the same family on top of each other, and then every 100 years or so they would cremate the remains so that they could continue to bury members of that family at the same grave site. Finally we went to lunch at the Warwick Arms Hotel where we ate a pre-ordered meal. Everything was delicious!
After lunch we hopped back on the bus and rode to London. After settling in at the hostel, we received a mini lesson from Brian about the tube (subway) system, and then grabbed a bite to eat. Later at night was our “tube assessment” to make sure everyone understood how to navigate the tubes. Brian and Susan had a couple surprises up their sleeves for us! First we walked around Picadilly Circus which is sort of like a theatre district. Then we headed towards the Tower Bridge to take part in the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London, this is where the royal family stayed for hundreds of years (they now stay at Buckingham Palace). This is something that needs to be applied for over 6 months in advance, and they picked us! It is a group of about 60 people who are fortunate enough to witness this historical scene. It is a nightly tradition of locking up the grounds for over 700 hundred years! To end the night we took the tube to see Big Ben and the House of Parliament. From here we could also see the London Eye. Everything was beautiful lit up at night on the river! There were lots of pictures taken, and we stayed long enough to hear Big Ben ring at 11:00pm. We can already tell London will be a fun-packed week!