Monday, September 16, 2013

Day 15-18 London Ramblings (June 8-11)

The remaining few days of the trip were a mix of old and new activities, and I'll mainly hit the high points.  We arrived in Paddington just after 5 am.  Fortunately they don't actually kick you off the train for a couple more hours.  We had breakfast there, but were dismayed to learn that the showers they had told us were available at Paddington weren't open for several hours.  (Even the train crew didn't know they'd changed the opening time- they were rather miffed on our behalf.)   We washed up as best we could and headed off to our hotel, where we were delighted to find they had our rooms ready, and we could check in early and get showers there.    We were amused to be greeted by a statue of our old friend Brunel at the train station- Paddington station is another of his many designs.  

We had happened to return on the Queen's official birthday, and watched a fair bit of the ceremony of Trooping the Colors.

We did some walking (as is our habit), and got tickets for the tour of the House of Parliament. 

 It used to be that it was quite hard to get tours - you needed reservations that were hard to get for non-citizens, but in recent years they have discovered that tourists will pay to see the place.  The tour was excellent, and we learned a good deal about the functioning of British government, as well as seeing a spectacular building. 

We went by the Borough St. market, home of many foods from across the British isles.  

We had outstanding salt beef sandwiches for lunch, and then walked up to the park and sat in the sun while we polished off the last of our clotted cream fudge.  

We met some friends who were in London on the their first trip and introduced them to a couple of our favorite restaurants, and strolled around the city.   Some of the things on their must see list we had seen on our own first trip, now over a decade in the past, so we arranged some joint activities. 
Thames River

We went to see the Tower of London again, and were interested to see a number of new exhibits. 

And we went to a play- another traditional London activity that we had never done before- we went to see Agatha Christie's  The Mousetrap, which was doubly interesting for us as we'd read about the writing of it when we visited Greenway earlier in the trip.  It was quite enjoyable. 

We took in a new exhibit at the Museum of  Science on Alan Turing- of interest to us both because of his pioneering work in computing, and his work at Bletchley Park breaking German codes during World War II.   His brutally unfair treatment by the British government and early death were a tragedy for science as well as for him personally-  the work he might have done had he lived another 20 or 30 years could have advanced computing by decades. 

We attended a gallery talk  on Roman religious practices at the British museum- and reflected not for the first time how interesting it would be if we could get there more often.  We walked up to King's Cross station for a more detailed look at the new station and the construction in the area stimulated by the Olympic renovations to the transit system and the new Crosslink rail lines going in now. 
Our last day we made another repeat visit to a museum we'd seen on our first trip, this one to Sir John Soane's house.  We arrived early and managed to secure places on their very popular docent tour.   Soane was a fashionable architect in late 18th and early 19th century London.  We had previously marveled at his eclectic collections, but were interested to find out on the tour that they were not simply a case of pack-rattery gone amuck, but rather that Soane used his house to test out architectural ideas, and that his collections of stonework were intended as teaching tools for the apprentices under his tutelage.  A truly excellent tour, I highly recommend it. 

We finished out the trip in what has become our habitual fashion, by shopping for books at Hatcherd's and artisanal English cheeses at Neal's Yard Dairy.  More places we would go more often if we were in London more frequently.  

All in all a fabulous trip, and due to its unprecedented length, one that felt more relaxed, despite the typically extensive ground we covered.  I'm already looking forward to the next one!
rfholly's Day 15-18 album on Photobucket

1 comment:

  1. Your trip sounds AMAZING!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing the write-ups--they're such fun!