If you read the last blog post about Reykjavik and it seemed like there were only a few pictures or there were grammatical errors, I accidentally published a draft of it before I was finished. It takes at least a couple days to find enough wifi and time to upload all the pictures for each post, so I accidentally published it when I was only halfway done. Please go back to the blog to see the updated post with the new pictures if you are interested.
My sister and I wanted to travel together, and we each picked a country to visit in our short time together. She wanted to see Iceland, and I really wanted to see Greece. There was no good way to get from Iceland to Greece (from the top of Europe to the bottom) so we made a stopover in London- another place I’ve wanted to see.
On the way into the city from the airport we passed through King’s Cross Station. Having read the Harry Potter books dozens of times, I had to stop and see Platform 9 3/4. There was a huge line of people waiting to take pictures pretending like they were running onto the hidden platform at a luggage cart stuck in the wall and even a Harry Potter shop that looked like Olivander’s wand shop right next door.
We arrived in London in the early afternoon- and with only 24 hours to see as much as possible we headed right out to get afternoon tea. There is a small shop in my hometown in Dayton Ohio that is run by a British man who serves afternoon tea so I wanted to try the real afternoon tea when I went to London. We found a small place serving a pot of tea with scones and jam- it was delicious. It happened to be right by a stop for the double-decker busses which made for a cool picture.
From there we walked to the British museum. Sam(2013)had told me to not miss the British Museum, especially since I was visiting Athens. Perhaps the most important exhibit in the British Museum is the collection of sculptures and friezes from the Parthenon in Athens. They were brought to London by Lord Elgin and bought for the Museum in 1816. They built a special wing for the sculptures and they are beautifully displayed. The museum says that they saved them from further vandalism and weathering by bringing them to the museum and that they tell an important part of the story of world history by being next to the Egyptian, Assyrian and other exhibits. Athens says the statues are theirs and that they were “violently removed” by Lord Elgin. Today about 60 % of the remaining sculptures are in the British Museum and 40% in Greece at the museum outside the Parthenon.
The British Museum was incredible. It had room after room of incredible artifacts including huge statues and some arches and building pieces that were built into the very museum. There were mainly Egyptian, Greek, Middle Eastern and European rooms. There was a small room for North America ( which included Oceania) and another small room just for Mexico. Having spent so much time in South America, I was a little sad about the complete exclusion of South America ( there was a monolith from Easter Island). There are some other interesting civilizations (i.e.:Incas) that I think could be included in the museum although I understand the story they are telling with existing exhibits.
My favorite part was the Rosetta Stone which has always fascinated me. It’s the stone with the same script written in Heiroglific, Demotic and Greek. It was used to decipher Heiroglyphics, but what is amazing is that it took them “less than 25 years-” according to the exhibit after the discovery of the stone to decipher hieroglyphics. It was such a different pattern that it took them that long. I can’t imagine working on something like that for 20+ years. The Rosetta Stone has an interesting history, much like many artifacts that found their ways to the museum. It was originally in an Egyptian temple, when Egypt became Christian the stone was removed and built into the fortress of an Egyptian ruler in the 14th century. From there it was rediscovered by the French in 1799, but surrendered to the British as a part of the Treaty of Alexandria in 1801. In 1802 it entered the Bristish Museum where they began to translate it.
There was a very very small Viking section which was interesting after our trip to Iceland.
The best part was that the museum was free!
The next morning we woke up early to walk up to Westminster Palace and Abbey and explore the famous sites in the area. We walked through the Victoria Tower Gardens, past Westminster Palace (where the British Parliament is). We walked through Parliament Square where we found a great picture of Big Ben, then through the beautiful St. James Park to Buckingham Palace.
In the park there were groups of tourists gathering around squirrels to take pictures. I couldn’t help but take a picture of them taking pictures of squirrels, which are so common in my home city. The thing is, everyone does this when they go to other places. The Brazilians that came to UA were fascinated by the squirrels running around the Quad, and when I went to Brazil, I was fascinated by the little marmosets with their striped tails climbing around in the park. They made fun of me for taking pictures of them. It goes both ways.
We walked beneath the London Eye- with our short schedule we didn’t have time to go on it, we walked down along the river, past street performers, restaurants, museums and hundreds of years of history.
We had a lunch at a pub along the water that was a couple hundred years old. I’d been wanting to try Fish and Chips, so we ordered a large plate. It came with mashed, mint-flavored peas on the side.
We ended our walk downtown by crossing the London Bridge to see the Tower Bridge further down the river. Then it was time to return to the flat to grab our bags and catch a train to the airport.
I was just there for 24 hours, but I loved London. It is a collection of people from all over the world-you hear multiple languages just sitting on the subway. It is a great place to people watch and I would love to come back and stay for weeks, visiting all the restaurants, museums, cultural events all over the enormous city. London truly is an international city and I wouldn’t mind returning to stay for awhile someday.
Next stop, Santorini!