Friday, March 22, 2013

London Calling....

Hyperactive blog post here we come!

Last weekend I went to London to visit my cousin and see the sights. It was amazing. I have never really put England high on my list of countries I want to visit. I'm not sure why really, maybe because I knew it is full of tourists.

Anyway putting all that behind me I visited last weekend. I arrived late Friday night and flew out early Monday morning.

I hadn't planned to visit a lot of places when I was in London primarily because I know that I like to spend a lot of time in museums. As a result of that the places I ended up going to were Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London on Saturday.

Westminster Abbey is stunning. While I couldn't take photos inside I did do the self guided audio tour which takes about an hour or so. It has about 20 stops and you listen to a bit of information about each part of the Abbey. I think one of the highlights for me here was seeing the tombs of Elizabeth I and Mary I. All in all it's definitely somewhere I would recommend anyone who loves history, old buildings/Gothic architecture and has any interest in the history of England and the various rulers to visit.

The Tower of London was fantastic. I don't exactly know how old I was when I decided that when I went to London I would NOT be missing out on visiting this place, but I am pretty sure I was still primary school aged. I loved it! It is not anything as I think I had imagined but it was so much better. It fits those kind of fairytale imaginings of what a castle should look like with crenellations and towers. There is such a dark history I guess to the place with the many, many people who were imprisoned here, not to mention the three queens who were beheaded here. One of the most well known prisoners to have been beheaded here was Anne Boleyn who was charged with adultery and being a traitor to the crown. I guess the most controversial story of prisoners here is that of the princes in the tower. The two sons of Kind Edward IV were kept prisoner there and declared illegitimate by their uncle who went on to become King Richard III. The fate of the children however is unknown as they disappeared sometime after arriving and nothing was seen or heard from them again. The most popular belief is that Richard III ordered them killed. The major attraction within the Tower itself is the Crown Jewels which are on display. They are amazing. I guess it's hard to describe anything like that unless you see it up close. They also have other things on display along with the crowns including some of the tableware used at the coronation feast. I honestly have no idea how anyone would be able to lift up the tankards they have, let alone drink from them. They also have a enormous punch bowl which can hold 144 bottles of wine... I want that bowl for my parties!

I also went to something called the London Bridge Experience which is some kind of 'scare' attraction. It was a bit historical and the scare bit was a bit like a haunted house attraction at a carnival. Saturday evening my cousin and I went to watch Phantom of the Opera. It was awesome and I loved it. I had previously seen a recording of the 25th Anniversary Royal Albert Hall stage performance and that was amazing but still nothing can beat seeing a performance live. Definitely something I would be willing to repeat!

On Sunday I went to the British Museum. I think this is one of the few things that could equal the experience of finally seeing the Tower of London for me, if not surpass it. Love is not a strong enough word to describe how much I enjoyed the museum. The two most famous displays within the museum would without a doubt have to be The Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles. As a history geek I have been dying to see these for as long as I have known about them. The first thing I did when I got inside after getting myself a guide was to go visit the Rosetta Stone. As with any display that is as well known as the Rosetta Stone there are always crowds of people around it. Luckily I was able to get through them pretty quickly to see the stone. Thus started the high that lasted until after I had left the museum. One other thing I saw that I hadn't realised was on display was the Lindow Man. If you don't know who or what the Lindow Man is, it is a bog body that was discovered I think about 50 years ago or something. At first the man who discovered it thought it was a recent body but it was quickly realised that it was a lot older than that. I managed to see most of the displays I think but there were still some areas I missed out and I didn't read every little info thing for every display because I wanted to see as much as possible.  As it was I think I spent at least 5 hours there and I am pretty sure I could spend at least that many more.

My advice for people going to the museum:

- If you don't have time to see everything decide what has priority.
- Don't plan to be in and out in an hour or two. You don't do the museum justice by doing that.
- WEAR COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES. Whilst there are plenty of spots where you can sit down around the different halls you are still going to be spending most of the day on your feet.

Sunday afternoon we ended up doing a bit of a walk around london. We walked to Trafalgar Square where I got a few photos of things then ended up walking past the Tower of London and over the Tower Bridge. I think next time I am in London I will have to plan to do the Tower Bridge experience as part of my trip.

All in all it was an amazing trip. I loved every bit of it and it definitely left me wanting to go back and see more.

Two of the entrances to Westminster Abbey.
Tower of London... Can you tell I'm excited?

The Rosetta Stone!!!

The Tower Bridge.

The Tower of London from the opposite bank of the River Thames.

~~ Random Logic ~~

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