London, United Kingdom
We had no plans for today. It was our last day in London so we thought we’d just see what we felt like doing on the day.
We decided that we couldn’t in all good conscience stay 2 blocks from the British Museum and not go there, so that was our first stop. Lil Sis wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, and we duly located it, viewed it and were suitably impressed. Equally as impressive was the vast array of Rosetta Stone souvenirs. You name it, they had it: UBS sticks, paperweights, keyrings, fridge magnets, bookmarks, travel card holders, jigsaw puzzles . . .
We spent some time browsing through the British history section of the museum, looking at the artefacts from Celtic and Roman times. One of the features was the Lewis Chessmen (the most famous chess set in the world) (also available on a wide range of souvenir products). I was lining up a shot of the board when a man with a much bigger camera than mine, and therefore clearly superior to me elbowed me aside to take a photo. Then, not 60 seconds later, I was looking at the exhibit from the other side when a French tour group arrived to take up position exactly where I was standing. The tour guide manoeuvered herself into place precisely, while announcing loudly to the group, but obviously intended for me to hear, that tour groups had priority.
I don’t recall seeing any signs in the museum advising non-members of tour groups of this, but she said it so authoritatively I’m totally sure she was completely correct. I mean tour groups are the only people on schedules aren’t they?
Wedged tightly between this tour guide and the glass of the exhibit, I wasn’t exactly sure how she expected me to move out of the way so that her precious tour group could have the priority viewing that they were so clearly entitled to. I felt like staying there and listening to her talk, but I heard her saying something about non-group members not being welcome. She looked most offended, however, when she had to move so I could make my escape.
Of course a visit to London wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory bump-into-someone-you-know-at-a-famous- landmark routine. For us it was Lil Sis’s TAFE teacher at the British Museum.
After we’d had enough of that, we took the train to St Paul’s. We wanted to climb up to the top of the dome to look out over London.
We forgot one thing.
They don’t allow people to tour St Paul’s Cathedral on Sundays on account of all the services that are going on. You can go in, but they ask you not to walk around. (You can, however, buy postcards.) So we saw what we could and then made our way, haphazardly, to the Millennium Bridge across the Thames.
This bridge is a footbridge only, and apparently was closed as soon as it was opened because on the first day, there were so many people on it the whole thing started swinging and they needed to further reinforce it.
We walked past the reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe, but you don’t get a very good view of it, and had lunch at a Turkish restaurant nearby.
After lunch – which ended up being about 4pm – we did the 10 minute highlights tour of Tate Modern (we looked through the surrealists gallery). The vague plan was to make our way to the Freemason Temple via a couple of pubs and then head back to the hotel for an early night.
What we actually did involved a lot of walking, a couple of pubs and a lot more photos for the Monopoly Crawl. This became somewhat addictive, as we checked the map to see how close we were to the next street we needed, and debated whether it was too far or whether we should keep going.
So we ended up with a night time tour of some of the swankier parts of London. We admitted defeat when we got to the point that we’d need to go on more than one train to get to a couple of the further away places (but kicked ourselves when we realised how close we’d been to them at the Tower of London). I think we did well to get what we got, as we were really only in London for 3 and a half days.
We missed a couple of train stations, a couple of streets (some that we got from buses rather than going there), the Waterworks (we think Tate Modern used to be the Electric Company), and actually going to Gaol. That last one is probably a good thing.