Saturday, May 29, 2010

Last Day in London

So today is our last day in London before we move on to Salisbury. After breakfast and little bit of pre-departure sorting, we headed to one place I've been wanting to see...221B Baker Street. Yes I know Sherlock Holmes is fictional but still...I love it. Apparently many of the older Sherlock movies and the British series from the 90s used this location. So I just had to see it. Then we headed to a comic shop for David to see. And then some afternoon tea. After tea we spent the whole afternoon taking in the British Museum in its entirety. We stopped briefly on our first day but we didn't do it justice.

And what did we learn today in the British Museum...they were a bunch of thieves!

There it is! 221B Baker Street.

Lovely afternoon tea in Bloomsbury at Bea's Tearoom.

The Rosetta Stone. It always has a huge crowd around it, I had to be very patient to get this picture.

Huge granite scarab sculpture.

Me next to some Persian entry gate statues.

Really cool scene from the Amazon Reliefs on the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos.

A Caryatid statue from the Erechtheum.

This is the Parthenon hall. (bunch of thieves!)

Scene of Athena and Zeus from the Elgin Marbles.

Great fragment of a horse sculpture from the pediment on the Parthenon.

This is what remains of the right side of the pediment.

Cat mummy....

Little crocodile mummy....

Cleopatra's mummy.....sheesh...there were a lot of mummies.

In the medieval Britain area, there was a great chess set from the 12th century known as the Lewis Chessmen. Here's the king.

And from a special exhibit of medieval Yorkshire items, this is a shrine fragment from the 1330s from York Cathedral.

And all by itself was this great Mayan relief of blood letting for sacrifice. Cool huh?


We took the train out to see Canterbury and it's very historic Cathedral and old medieval town sites.

Here's the outside of Canterbury Cathedral. The history of the Cathedral goes back the 6th century. But it wasn't until the 12th century that it became a pilgrimage site.

Behind the altar a single lit candle marks the spot of the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170. According to history, Richard II ordered his death.

Here's a view from the quire down to the apse.

And here's back looking down the nave.

And then outside of town are the ruins of the St. Augustine Abbey that was destroyed under the orders of Henry VIII.

Westminster & Shakespeare

We started our morning off with a visit to Westminster Abbey and walk through the government district. The walk from our tour book finished up at Trafalgar Square where we took in the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery.

Westminster Abbey was fascinating. We saw the burial places of Queen Elizabeth I and many other monarchs. Also on display is the coronation chair. Sorry but no pictures inside the Abbey.

The National Gallery was also great. My favorite piece had to be the Arnolfini Wedding Portrait.

After an early dinner we headed over to the Globe Theatre and watched a production of Macbeth.
That was thoroughly entertaining. Seeing it performed there really puts the contemporary productions into perspective.

View of the Houses of Parliament from over the bridge.

And Big Ben.

Westminster Abbey: for such an important building, it's actually not very large.

I'm not sure if this picture is "legal" but it was outside the main building, supposedly it's Britain's oldest door. According to the sign, most likely constructed in the 1050s.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields has brass rubbings that you can do. Here's me working on one. It's more work than you think.

Tah dah!

The Globe Theatre from across the Millennium Bridge.

The cheap seats had to perform as part of the set as a scene from Dante's Inferno.

And a view of the inside of the theatre.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

London: Kew Gardens

Well we spent the whole day at the Royal Botanical Gardens. When I say the whole day, we were there at least 6 hours exploring the 300 acres. It's a large park with several glass houses. After the garden we went the famous department store Harrods. That place was insane. They had everything! Even Krispy Kreme which is kind of scary actually. After dinner we attended the Ceremony of Keys at the Tower of London. Since a solemn and special event, there are no photographs allowed during the ceremony. Take a look at our day! *Warning: There are quite a few pictures to follow*

This is the Temperate House. It's a Victorian glass greenhouse.

And here is a view of the inside. They have it divided up into N. America, Asia and S. America.

What's pretty cool is you can walk up this spiral staircase and get a treetop view inside.

There were all sorts of cool plants and flowers including this type of lily (sorry I never found a name plate for this one).

Another highlight was the various Dells that were filled with the quintessential English Bluebells.

They also have a tree top walkway, it was a bit scary for me.

The Palm House held many types of tropical plants.

Next the Palm House was a smaller glass greenhouse which housed GINORMOUS water lilies.

They had beautiful azaleas. This one is called Golden Eagle and it smells amazing. (no it wasn't raining, I realized my head was getting sunburned).

The Princess of Wales Conservatory has various plants but the main attraction is the butterfly farm.

Check out this huge moth!

Guess what he's mimicking.

I have lots of good luck, this guy sat on my leg for several minutes.

Here's a picture of an emerging Luna Moth. They have large case in which you can view many different types of chrysalis and emerging moths and butterflies.

Oh and these really cute ducklings we saw by one of the lakes. Not sure what type of duck?

What a shot! Beautiful moon rising over the Bridge before we went in for the ceremony.

Me with one of the warders who was actually our guide for the day time tour yesterday. Nice guy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

London: Day 1

I'm calling this "Day 1" because yesterday we got in later than we thought, plus we were so tired, that we only did a brief walk through the British Museum. Saw all the highlights according to Rick Steves but we may go back since it's so close to where we are staying. So what did we do today? 1. Tower of London 2. lunch at Wagamama 3. Rick Steve's "the City" walk 4. British Library.

The tower of London was very cool. I followed the guru's (Rick Steves) advice and went straight for the Jewel Tower. Very smart, there was no line yet. The jewels were impressive, they had a diamond that was like 300 lie. Unfortunately, (I was much bummed) the Imperial Crown was "in use". Ugh! Then we joined a Yeoman Warder tour and got the lively stories of the once palace and prison. And then we explored on our own. After that we did a walk that led us up to St. Paul's. On our way back towards our hotel, we visited the British Library. That was really cool b/c they house some original works by Shakespeare, Jane Austin (and her writing desk), Beowulf, Handel's Messiah and Alice in Wonderland. Oh yeah, and a very badly damaged copy of the Magna Carta (we'll see another in Salisbury). And pictures in there.

Here's a shot of the corner of the outer wall with the Tower Bride in the background.

And this is where the keep the mother load. pictures allowed inside.

This was our guide. Seems cheesy to do a group tour thing but it was entertaining and with a guide you get to go in the chapel.

There are two greens inside the Tower courtyard. These were reserved for private executions. At the end of one are the lovely Tudor apartments built for Anne Boleyn. But she never lived to see them finished.

Next we went inside the Beauchamp Tower. Many prisoners that stayed here left behind graffiti. Here they say the "E" inside the heart was left by a supporter of Elizabeth I.

Lunch at Wagamama: Chicken Katsu Curry.

Along the route to St. Paul's is the Twinings Tea store (est. 1706). Had to get a couple of tins.

And I thought this was cool, outside the church St. Dunstan-in-the-West is a 1586 statue of Elizabeth I. It's a rare depiction of the queen from during her reign.

And last but not least, Christopher Wren's St. Paul's.

Tomorrow will be Kew Gardens.