All that walking, and it was still only 9:15 when I ended up at Westminster Abbey, which opens for visitors at 9:30. No photos are allowed inside, but even if I could have taken pictures there's no way it could do it justice. It's a magnificent building itself plus the fact that it has been the place of coronation of every English King since Edward the Confessor (right before William the Conqueror - 1066) and besides that Everybody who was Anybody in historical England seems to be buried there. I got to walk by the tomb of Elizabeth I who actually shares a tomb with her sister Mary! One can only imagine how they each feel about that.
In Poet's Corner there was a special surprise for me. Right under a large monument to Handel was this modest one to my namesake - or rather, I am hers.
Barges, I would like to go with you
I would like to sail the ocean blue.
Barges, have you treasures in your hold?
Do you fight with pirates brave and bold?
We passed Shakespeare's reconstructed Globe Theater.
And something else famous, which for the moment did not appear to be...
We floated along until we came in sight of Tower Bridge...
The Tower of London surprised me by being more blockish and castle-y than tower-ish, but I suppose that back when the original bit was built, it towered over the scrappy little houses that stood nearby. The bit of arch that you can see in the left foreground is the Traitor's Gate, in fact the printing on the quay reads "Entry for the Traitor's Gate." All sorts of famous tragic characters came through there by boat, including Elizabeth I when her sister Mary (who now lies beneath her as previously noted) still was queen.
Judge me if you will, but I decided that after the unplanned large block of time I'd spent at Westminster Abbey, I just wasn't up for the 2 1/2 hour tour of the tower and the gory stories involved, even though it meant missing the Crown Jewels. (I do hope to go back some day.) At that point, what I really needed was some Lunch. So, after some sustaining potato leek soup in view of the entrance and a little visit to the gift shop, I began walking again. Walk, walk, walk, through old parts of London that I had floated past earlier.
I liked this sign: very English and to the point.
And then I was at St. Paul's Cathedral.
All around the cathedral the saints and apostles
Look down to the street far below
Although you can't see them, you know that they're smiling,
When somebody shows that they care.
Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.
|"Mary Poppins? Never 'eard of 'er!" -- Pigeon|
A few more narrow streets and I came to the Old Bailey ~ for any Dickens readers.
There were also some astounding artifacts from the Assyrian Empire. Do you see those young whippersnappers on the left?? They were patting the winged creatures! Shocking! I tattletaled on them to a guard, and he kind of laughed and looked at me like I was some sort of busybody. Well, maybe I am, but....they're really old!
Then it was time for me to hurry and take the underground and go meet Zeus to catch our taxi, train, and flight back home. But just before I left I took a picture of me with my twin sister.
A little bit like this one, that I took of a shop window the night before. A little bit...but not much.
This was very strange, actually. And has nothing to do with literature as far as I can tell.
So there it was... a wonderful, if very quick introduction to London and Great Britain. And strange nymph toilets aside, I do hope to return someday and visit a little more thoroughly. Maybe go to Jane Austen country or see where Poirot and Jeeves and Wooster lived, and Peter Wimsey, and Beatrix Potter, and....
If memory serves, that British chap was Lord Elgin. -dhReplyDelete
Yes, dh, thank you! The Elgin Marbles, which makes it sound like he's going out to play with them on the playground. Of course it all clarifies what's going on in Greece lately; they've lost their marbles!!Delete
Yes, the Elgin Marbles...rats, I was hoping to be the first to post that! :-) Jenny, you are the coolest tourist-writer ever to visit London :-) I love reading your journey journals. What energy you kept up. I loved seeing the Rosetta Stone, too. But you do need to go back and see the Crown Jewels and ride the moving walkway that takes you past them :-) Fun. Very sparkly. Love from two hours away... xoxoxoxo KatherineReplyDelete
Oh , your story is great and brings back my visit to Great Britain seven years ago. Such amazing things to see.ReplyDelete
Mark & I are heading to Great Britain in a couple weeks, & I'll have 3 days to explore on my own while he's in a conference! I will be scouring your blog posts for any tips (and am welcome to any you might add!)ReplyDelete