Thursday, 4 July 2013

London

London, United Kingdom

From Maidstone we took an hour long train ride into London's Victoria station. The Tube was incredibly easy to use on an all day pass and apart from being muggy in the trains, I found it to be an exceptionally good setup of public transport. Never once did we get lost or stolen from (though that's probably because I clutched my bag tight under my armpit at all times.)

On our route we saw the Thames, which was (as promised) murky and brought to mind hundreds of years of waste water disposal.
My hair was not taking too well to camping, but it would get used to it over the coming weeks and months.

The Globe Theatre, with its thatched roof. Plays were being performed here, though we didn't have time to see one. Interestingly enough, the gift shop was brilliant and full of cool things. Nope, I can't think of anything more eloquent than "cool things", so you'll have to live with it. I'm no Shakespeare.


The Tower of London - it was a bit expensive, but worth it. We walked along the walls and into the towers. The main tower was called the White Tower. The Crown Jewels were also housed at the Tower of London, but we didn't much care to see them. If the line hadn't been so humongous, we might have considered it. 

If you want gruesome history, then the Tower of London is for you. We got to see olden-timey torture devices like the Rack and the Scavengers Daughter, which is like the opposite of the Rack: it squashes you up rather than stretching you.

In the prisons, you could see graffiti that prisoners had carved into the walls. These four examples are from the years 1552-1553.

Quintessentially London - St Paul's Cathedral with a set of double deckers. We didn't go inside St Paul's, but I can tell you that from the outside it looked enormous and shiny. It had some rather nice gardens out the front that we lounged in briefly before becoming hungry.

Lunch was less easy to come by than expected. What we didn't know was that around St Paul's was the financial district, which was only open for business on weekdays, including most cafes, restaurants and pubs. As it was a Sunday, everything was shut except Pret A Manger, a French-themed franchise (they have one every two blocks at least there) and it was a little disappointing as I had wanted something a little more English. 

After my ham sandwich, we decided to go to the British Museum. My feet were killing me - I should have done the tourist thing and wore sports shoes but I was too proud - but I took some painkillers and walked on. We took a short rest at this park (Russell Square), which was pleasant, as English gardens are want to be.

The British Museum
Upon entering (free entry, which is a bonus), we found ourselves face to face with the Rosetta Stone. I thought it was a replica. How had I not seen this advertised? The actual, legit Rosetta Stone, right there. This was the start of my 'British Museum Breakdown'.

Moving on, we perused the Egyptian section, full of decorated pillars and sarcophagi with sphinxes on. The Greek section was what I was most looking forward to, and boy did I have a good time. I saw pots that I had studied in Classics.

 Moving up a flight of stairs, we found ourselves in a room custom built for a full frieze that spanned all four walls and had been in the temple of Apollo. It depicted Heracles fighting the Amazons in one part, and the Centaurs trying to carry off the Greek women (after drinking too much) in another. It was beautiful and so intact. I cried. Not going to deny it, I straight up cried right there. Luckily no one else was in that room except a security guard.
(Getting teary just thinking about it.)


From the British Museum, we walked back through Russell Square to catch the tube to Hyde Park. On the way, I found a red telephone box and had to get a photo in it.

Hyde Park was far too large for us to explore, but we rested again in the grass before heading off to find a place for dinner. There were a multitude of roller-bladers, which irritated me for some reason (probably because I was getting grumpy-hungry).

We went looking for dinner but we had walked down a shopping street. Finally we found a pub - the Gloucester. Had a Pimm's and bangers and mash. I'd say the food was average, but it was essential to get the English experience. (And it's hard to go wrong with sausages.)


The Pimm's was excellent.