Well, here it is. The last stop on my little winter adventure. It was the place I was most excited to go, but I ended up being the most tired there. After walking all day for over a week, my feet just couldn’t keep up anymore. They were like batteries that are never fully recharged and so the next time you use them, they run down much more easily. Yeah, that was me, so I took lots of breaks. Also because of the terrible exchange rate (a pound is about 2 dollars at the moment), everything cost twice as much and my purse was pretty empty. I basically had 30 pounds, after lodging and train from the airport. So… everything had to be free. Luckily, basically everything I wanted to do (which consisted of museums) was free. Well, here goes:
Our hostel was just off Piccadilly Circus, so when I stepped out the door in the morning, I just headed down Haymarket to see where it would take me. I ended up at St. James’ Park, which was completely green and even colored with flowers.
I paused to look at the birds (trying to make good on my determination in Dublin to become a bird-watcher)and saw this one with strange webbed feet.
And some other waterfowl:
And then I stumbled upon the Royal Horse Guards as they entered Buckingham Palace. I couldn’t believe how many tourists were there. I don’t know why I should be surprised, but still… a huge crowd and tons of cameras and people taking video of the guards as they passed. I took a picture of Queen Victoria sitting everso solidly on her throne. I also thought about asking someone to take my picture with the palace, but decided against it. And I have to admit that I was disappointed that the famous royal guard was wearing a blue coat instead of a red one. Not to mention that he was behind the gates and I couldn’t try to make him crack a smile. Oh well.
Then I made my way up to Trafalgar Square and the British Gallery. I gained some strength by eating at Subway. Mmm… I had a white chocolate, macadamia nut cookie. It’s funny that something like that would be so tasty, but I haven’t had a regular cookie for so long.
I decided to swallow my pride and rent an audioguide tour for the Gallery. I’ve never done that before. I mean, I am an art historian, in a way. But I figured it might make my experience more enlightening. And I liked it. But sometimes they had too much to say about a painting and I ended up listening to it forever when I really wanted to be looking at more paintings. It was still thrilling, though, to see in person so many paintings that I had studied. I think my favorite was Seurat’s “Bathers at Asnières” and Van Eyck’s “Arnolfini Portrait” – although I couldn’t believe how small it was in real life. However, it was disappointing that I couldn’t take any pictures and there were just too many things to see. I’ve decided that museums really should be smaller. They’d be so much more accessible.
Afterwards, I met Dan and Angie for some Fish ‘n Chips at Famous Harry Ramsden’s. Mmm.. fish ‘n chips sound good just about now, but it really wasn’t what I expected. Still… it was good, but I think a less famous place probably would’ve been better. We really just went there because it was across the street from the hostel. Then we strolled down to the London Eye and took some pictures of Big Ben along the way. Okay, now I didn’t realize that I had taken so many pictures of Big Ben. It’s actually kind of embarrassing, but the problem was that my camera just doesn’t take great photos at night with lights. And then, I really wanted a picture of myself in front of Big Ben, but again, the lighting just wasn’t great, so I ended up taking about a million pictures. I thought it might be kind of fun for you to see how the night progressed.
And those were just from crossing the bridge. Now we are on the other side of the Thames and we just missed the last ride on the London Eye, but I decided to use the parapet as a support for my camera, hoping the stability would lead to a clearer picture.
That seemed to work well, so I thought I would try and get in the picture, but this was the only way it would work:
But that just seemed silly, so we started on an attempt to do a normal shot of me and Big Ben. I lightened one in Photoshop, but…
Anyway, here are some more attempts:
And then I took a break and photographed a Dali sculpture that turned out really eerie with the lighting.
And back to Big Ben, but this time from the other side of the bridge again:
One last one:
Just think, those aren’t even all the ones I took. I know, it’s sad. I was really disappointed that I couldn’t go inside Westminster. The weird thing about England is that pretty much all the museums are free but the churches cost money. And as I mentioned early, I didn’t have much of that, but I did take a photo of the facade.
We took a circuitous route home, much to my dismay, but finally ended up back at the hostel and tucked into bed. And now here’s my embarrassing moment. We were all sleeping in an eight-bed dorm. Now, bear in mind I had a cold and was quite stuffy. Sometime in the middle of the night, an Australian chap nudged me and asked me to turn over on my side because I was snoring. I couldn’t really get to sleep after that again. I felt so self-conscious. Luckily, that was his only night there.
Next day: First thing on my list was to check out the Tate Modern. But of course, I got a little distracted and ended up at St. Paul’s instead.
I kept singing “Feed the Birds, tuppence a bag” (in my mind) as I walked around the exterior of the cathedral. Of course, I couldn’t go in because it cost money. Eh, it was nice outside, too.
Then I crossed the Millennium (Millennial?) Bridge over to the Tate Modern, where there were people lined up to sled down a hill.
I was a little disappointed with the Tate. I don’t know why. I guess it just wasn’t what I expected.
Then I walked past the Globe on my way to the Tower of London.
Ran into Dan and Angie who were just leaving the tower. It started to sprinkle a little. I thought about walking over to the Tower Bridge, but seriously, my feet were tired and it just didn’t seem worth it, so I just took a picture.
Then I decided to save my feet a little and just pay to use the Underground to make it to the British Museum. I didn’t think I’d go to this museum because I had already been to the Gallery and the Tate, but I figured I might as well go. So I got off at the right station and everything, but then these signs that try and direct you to tourist attractions just aren’t that accurate. I’d follow the sign one way until I would come to another sign telling me to go back in the direction I came. At last I finally found it. Sat down for a minute to eat some warm bread I had bought and then walked in the front doors, only to be amazed at its huge, open space. I was delighted when I found out that I could take pictures as well! So I went a little picture-crazy about the Assyrian reliefs and Egyptian art, not to mention the frieze and metopes and pediment figures from the Parthenon. Unfortunately, that was all I was able to see. Rick Steves had told me that the British Museum was open late on Tuesdays, so I went there expecting it to stay open till 8. Apparently, that was the British Library that stays open late that day. I was so disappointed. I almost threw Rick Steves into the Thames. I am, at least, leaving him here in Innsbruck to misinform future travelers. Anyway, here are some photos for your own tour of antiquity:
When I left the museum, it was into a downpour. Don’t worry, though, I was prepared. Of course, I brought an umbrella, knowing I would be in London and expecting rain. In fact, I would’ve been disappointed if it hadn’t rained.
So that was it. I mean, 2 days and that was what I saw and I spent most of my time alone, and I wish that someone else had been there so that I could’ve gotten excited about it more. I couldn’t really point out things to myself. But I guess that’ll happen next trip. Because of course I will go again.