Thursday, January 24, 2013

London Calling

Lords and Ladies, welcome back! I am so sorry it took me so long to update post number four. There were many pictures and not enough free time. None the less, I have compiled my best photos of London to share with you. So sit back and relax as I take you on a virtual tour that won't leave you with aching feet....Seriously. It was a lot!

Had you been walking with me, we would have left the hotel, and walked across Russell Square to the British Museum to see some of histories finest artifacts.

The British Museum was one of my favorite visits. It's so large and there are so many things, you could spend a whole day in there and never be bored. The pictures you see here are from the ancient world. The two men and the dog are from Ancient Rome and the hieroglyphs and Pharaoh are from Ancient Egypt. 

The picture to the left of the screen is of  a row of tiles from The Parthenon. The Parthenon exhibit at the museum is by far the most impressive. Not only were these controversial tiles taken directly from The Parthenon, but the room they are displayed in, was built to be the same size as The Parthenon. These tiles feature different ceremonies from ancient Greece and the story goes, that on these many tiles, there are stories of processions between the Olympic Gods and Man. In one of these processions a 'man' is presenting an offering of some sort before battle to the military elite. However, the man presenting the offering has an exposed rear end and archeology tells us that in ancient Greece, exposed rear ends mean woman. Furthermore, women were not allowed to make such offerings so, we have a controversy. That was the simplest way I can explain's probably not all 100% right. 

Supposedly, according to this wall, Lord Duveen acquired these tiles in the 1700's and donated them to the British Museum. Greece does not like this and there is much controversy here as well. 

As I said earlier, the museum was so large, what you see here is only a small fraction of what we saw. There was an exhibit on clocks dating back to the ancients. There was an exhibit on the financial crisis in England. There was an amazing mummy exhibit but by the time I meandered into that room, it was filled with screaming British school children on a field trip so all of my pictures include blurry faces instead of preserved ones. So after accidentally spending over two hours in The British Museum, we would have walked outside, taken a right and started for Piccadilly Circus, which is not a circus at is known as the 'Times Square' of London and to be honest, I was not impressed. However! I did enjoy the shopping around the area. Girls, behold, the largest Topshop in the world. There was every sort of shop from Whole Foods-- where we had a delicious gluten free lunch-- to every designer you can think of. Omega jewelry, Lush (my new favorite store), Armani Exchange, Calvin Klein, Dorothy Perkins and so on and so forth. Now, since you're walking with me, you would have stopped in almost every store just delaying your arrival to Piccadilly Square which we just walked right through on our way to our next stop and my highlight of the trip.... PARLIAMENT SQUARE!!! 

On the other side of Parliament Square sits the most exciting building in London. The Supreme Court. While my friends checked out Westminster Abbey, I got to go inside the court house and look around......It was beautiful. 

After a lovely time in Parliament square, we headed back through the park to Buckingham Palace where, I'm sure the queen sat inside drinking some tea and....doing whatever it is The Queen does at 4:30pm on a Friday night. We didn't get to close because that meant more walking and we still had to make it back to our hotel by six to meet friend for dinner. So, we started to haul back to north central London. 

(I don't know about you but I find the line of succession incredibly interesting. Thanks to Shakespeare and his Histories, we know about Richard II, Henry IV and V and Richard III, all leading to the Tudor line giving us Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and her daughter Queen Elizabeth I. The sitting Queen right now is Elizabeth II and after her will be her son, Prince Charles of Wales. Then, will be William Duke of Cambridge and his lovely bride Kate. Now, Kate and Will are pregnant so their child, whichever gender it is, will be the heir to the throne after Will.) 

After a long hard day of walking and shopping, we made it back to the hotel early and went out for some good ol' British sushi. Actually, it was amazing. The eateries in London are fantastic and do not reflect the stereotype of English food whatsoever. After some sushi, we headed off to bead with visions of the Globe Theater in our heads. 

On our way to the Globe, we took Fleet Street. Now, anyone who knows Sweeney Todd, know that he and his lovely wife had a barber shop and meat pie shop on Fleet st. If you don't know the story, Sweeney Todd was a barber and his shop was right above his wife's pie shop. He would slaughter, she would bake and they would serve human pies! Gross but oddly entertaining. Any way, as fans of the musical, we took the historically grim street to the river. 
(Left: the court district on Fleet st. had some lovely gothic buildings! Right: A picture I did not take of myself on Millennium Bridge with the Glove in the background.)

At the River, there was a bridge, thank God because it was way too cold to swim across the Thames. The bridge I am standing on is Millennium Bridge built in 2000.....but broke or something and then was fixed and reopened in 2003. The bridge is perfectly safe now but I am starting to wonder about the integrity of London's Bridges...... Anyway, behind me and to the left you'll see a round white building. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Shakespeare's Globe! The history of this building is quite complex but the simple story goes that ins 16th century London, there were many restriction about the theater on one side of the river and not so many on the other side. The Globe happened to be on the side with many restrictions, legend probably doesn't have it but says that in the night, Shakespeare's crew moved the Globe across the river. Though that story is probably not all true, it is fun to tell. 

After a lovely greek lunch at an overpriced restaurant we headed back across the river and east to The Tower of London! Dun dun dun!! For those of you who don't know, the tower of London was built by William of Normandy after the battle of Hastings in 1066 which means this building is 947 years old. Over the years, the tower has served as a comfy get away for the royals and a prison for those who have committed treason. This is where Anne Boleyn died and rests and where two other wives of Henry VIII died and rest. There are 20 towers at The Tower of London and in one of these 20, are where The Crowned Jewels sit. We were not allowed to take pictures of them but they were oh so beautiful! 

Inside the outside walls of the Tower are crows. It is a Law that there always be crows at the Tower of London. If there are not, it is said that the monarchy will crumble and England will fall apart. Presently, there are eight crows at the Tower and they are said to be the fattest and most spoiled birds in the world. They loved posing for me but the person next to the crow wouldn't move so the poor crow had to make it work. 

As I said before, the Tower was a prison back in the day and on the walls in some of the towers, there are engravings of the prisoners' last thoughts. 
After the Tower, which took most of the day, we made our way back to the hotel. The next morning we got on the coach (bus) and made our way to Hampton Court Palace about an our outside of London. This was the summer home of Henry VIII and his many wives! 

Lovely courtyards and gardens fill the Palace with a natural, springy feel. The Tudor Gardens are among some of the most beautiful still my opinion. 

Speaking of Gardens! Above,  you will se a family tree. This is the THE family tree. And as a fan of Shakespeare I had to zoom in on some key characters. Enjoy! 
Here, to your right you'll see the bottom of the tree, at it's roots, John of Gaunt and the Black Prince. 
 Richard III, the Awful man who killed anyone that might threaten his chance of being King 

 Richard II, the boy king whose throne was usurped by Henry of Bollingbrook. Henry IV, the man who usurped the throne from Richard II and Henry V, the most heroic of the kings! If you have ever heard the St. Crispin's day speech, Henry V gave it on their way to a battle they were expected to lose! 
Well, that Finally concludes my London post. It dragged on a bit but I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the history! Until next time! Cheers :) 

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