07 April 2009

London (being part the late, and also the second, and the last)

Well, this post is about a month overdue. The draft has been sitting on file for weeks now - I do apologize. My week in London was super interesting! Here are a few of the things I did while I was there, along with a few pictures:

Tower of London:
This is namely the place where 1) several queens lost their heads; and 2) you are absolutely not allowed to take pictures of the crown jewels. This is also the place where 1) I learned how to make four different types of arrow heads from a man who's pet topic is arrows (and though not an idea left previously unconsidered, I myself might now begin to channel Robin Hood) and who got distracted from the big weapons about which I was more interesting in learning (catapult demonstration, etc.); and 2) I took pictures of the crown jewels. (They were so preeeeety, I just couldn't help it...we're talking about the world's largest diamond...and you see that teeeny crown?? That is the one Queen Victoria wore for those famous portraits after she became a widow...how could I not sneak pictures??)

Westminster Abbey:

is the place where you pay £14.50 to walk on and around the graves of hundreds of famous dead people - a lot of queens and kings, writers and rich people, mostly. This is also the place of the Coronation Chair that has been used in British coronations since that of William the Conquerer in 1066 (UK readers, don't be haters...I was very impressed...1066 is a good date in my book...this is when the French began to really influence the English language and started it on it's journey to what it is today). The Abbey is also where Edward the Confessor is enshrined and secluded away for private prayer services, and the place Livingstone (minus his heart), Tennyson!!, and Handel (among others) are buried. Westminster Abbey is also the place where I had a miniature breakdown, cried my eyes during the prayer at the top of the hour (for people who had recently lost loved ones, and my uncle Albert had just died the day before), and where a very busy, yet friendly, rector kindly asked me if I was alright as I bawled, "Yes, of course," and waved him on.

Southwark Cathedral:
The oldest gothic cathedral in town where Shakespeare probably attended services, though who knows how regularly. It is also the burial place of Shakespeare's brother Edmund. (Yeah, I know you didn't know he had a brother. Dummy. As a matter of fact, he had seven siblings, including two sisters named Joan. And dear William wasn't the oldest either, or even the youngest...which proves that even middle children can achieve things in life *said the middle child without a trace of bitterness...or sarcasm.*)

Kensington Gardens:
The place where I saw no fairies, even though it is the setting of the 1903 English opera A Princess of Kensington (which has fairies in it, as you might have guessed from the context of the sentence). There is, however, a delightful statue of Peter Pan, with which I did not manage to get a picture. I did manage to get a delightful phone call, though, so that was ok (if that person is reading this...you know who you are...). Kensington Garden is also the location of Kensington Palace (who would have figured?) and a very cool, terraced, sunken garden (which, on second thought, is where the fairies were probably in hibernation...and I would have been too, were I a fairy, which sadly, I am not).

The London Underground (Mind the Gap):
This is where you see way too many people waaaaay too closely, all of whom happen to be heading for exactly the same stop as you, and all of whom seem to be more than happy to give you a nice rough jostle whilst stepping on your toes in the mad rush out the door. I had to literally undergo a personality transformation, thereby becoming mean enough to step on other people's toes as well, or risk riding the tube for life. The London Underground is also where I saw, among others, a woman who dyes her hair too much (evidence: freshly-cut hair that had already begun to fray at the ends, though not yet to work its way up the hair shaft), a man who has a cat (evidence: four veeeery tiny scratches just out of eye-reach on the right shoulder of his sports jacket, along with a few hairs that his lint roller apparently missed), and a man with poor circulation (evidence: he had white white white hands that he kept rubbing together, even after he'd been on the fairly-warm metro at least seven stops). I felt that my personal space was invaded on numerous occassions, and I'll bet if the woman with bad hair had realized I was close enough to count split ends, she would have felt invaded as well.

FACT - I saw not one badly-dressed person playing ear-wrenching violin or accordian for money on the London tube. In Paris, it was impossible not to see them every last time you used the metro - the pleasures of mass transit, sickly cords of Carman wafting through the corridors, drifting from stop to stop like the smells emanating from the people manning the broken strings or shaking the paper cups.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre:
This just may be the biggest bloody disappointment in all of London. I was perfectly aware, as should be all decent, self-respecting readers of Shakespeare, that the original Globe Theatre burned down on 29 June of 1613 after a spark from a prop cannon caught the thatched roof on fire during a performance. I also knew that the second Globe was closed by the Puritans in 1642, along with every other theatre in London. What I didn't realise, or had completely overlooked, was the smallish fact that that second Globe had been pulled down - yes, to the ground - only two years after its closing, and that the current Globe - erroneously (I believe) called Shakespeare's Globe - was only just built twelve years ago. Not to mention - it isn't even built in the same spot as the previous one...it's a good two minutes walk from the original location. But of course they don't tell you these things before you pay for the tour...anyway, I went, I looked, I took the tour, but I shall never again return to this "Shakespeare's Globe Theatre." Darling William would be quite appalled. Not even in the same spot. Bah.

British Museum:
This is the very cool place where I spent a rainy afternoon looking at things like a manuscript of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and too many mummies to count, and peering over the heads of school children to get a glimpse of the Rosetta Stone. This is also where I fulfilled a very old wish to see artifacts from the Anglo-Saxon ship-burial at Sutton Hoo. Very, very awesome! I managed to feel a great deal of pride in myself for making it from NC to Switzerland to London to see these things I've been reading about for so long.

Leicester Square:
This is where I accidentily ended up at the world premier of the new movie "Young Victoria." It was also the place where I took pictures of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and her daughters (see below), along with various other royal people and actresses...and also the place where the batteries in my camera went dead just as the Princes William and Harry arrived. Bugger! Life-long regret, that.

Piccadilly Circus:
This is the apparently London's very own Times Square...flashing lights...huge billboards, etc...but for me it was basically the place where I renewed my long-term love affair with Cinnabon's massive, gooey cinnamon rolls.

Covent Garden:
This is the very neat market/series-of-stores/not-sure-exactly-how-to-describe-it where I saw a guy balance a full-size bicycle on his forehead. And that's pretty much the end of that story.

Whitechapel District:
This is where I took myself on a four-hour, meandering, walking tour of Jack the Ripper's home turf. I had the A-Z, I marked the trail, and I followed it in the order of the victims, down every last dark alley, past every dimly-lit pub, until I had a picture of myself at each place where Jack mutilated one of his victims. You might think I'm weird, but I don't care - I have a morbid fascination with the story of Jack the Ripper - have had for about fifteen years - and it was a free way to spend an afternoon. Not to mention I got some great exercise, discovered a couple of really cool old churches (another fascination - I go in every one that isn't locked), and explored a bit of London that otherwise I would have had no reason to see.

I went to a lot of other places I haven't mentioned...lots of museums, lots of parks, lots of little coffee shops...and overall had a really amazing time. Cannot WAIT to go back!!

In LOVE with London,
That girl in Switzerland


  1. Reading your posts makes me smile. :) Sounds like you had a jolly time in London even if you didn't get pictures of Prince William and Harry. (*sigh*) lol

  2. *Pick your comment
    A) Was it a foggy day when you visited London
    town? And did the British museum lose it's charm?
    B) I'm more disappointed about the lack of Peter Pan picture than the lack of Harry & Wiliam picture
    C)I was insulted by the "Dummy" reference in the southwark cathedral section.
    D)Had you been reading Doyle before getting on the underground?

  3. <-- Is jealous.

    Sounds like you had a blast.

  4. What was that? Cinnabon is multi-national?

    Hmm,... I can now travel abroad with complete ease and (dare I include it?) purpose!

    I feel inspired to compose a minor ballad about the luscious decadence of the goo.

    *sigh* Sweet dreams will be my hearty companions tonight.


  5. Dwayne!! I want to hear this ballad!! Goo is awesome!! Wioux Wioux for goo!!

  6. Mel,

    A) London was foggy several of the days I was there, yes. :-) The British Museum was very charming - as was the fish and chips place across the road.
    B) Peter Pan - I had to leave some mystery to London, didn't I?? Can't have me ruining all the surprises...
    C) Dummy - not in reference to you, daahling.
    D) Doyle - not before the Tube, but definitely thought of him during and after - so much to observe. :-P
    E) <3