Monday, May 11, 2009

Vacation 2009 - day 9

April 29, 2009 - London

Up around 8:15am, grabbed breakfast and headed off to Westminster Abbey again. This time we got in. The Abbey was stunning - the scope of the people whose burial locations we saw was amazing, from Edward the Confessor (who built the original Abbey), to Elizabeth I and her rival Mary, Queen of Scots, to scientists like Newton, Darwin, Faraday, Maxwell and Dirac, to authors like Dickens, Browning and Tennyson. All in a grand cathedral, with sections built in different times. The best section was the cathedral built by Henry VII, with its beautiful vaulted ceilings. We did the audio tour, which is worth the time.

Then we walked over Westminster Bridge, enjoying the views back of Parliament and Big Ben. We walked along the south bank of the Thames, past the London Eye, to the Tate Modern. Built in an old power station, it is an imposing building. Inside is a world class modern art collection, but I have to admit that I don't care for most modern art. After a few hours there, we headed over to Baker Street. Their tube station even has a Sherlock Holmes theme - with wallpaper and a statue. We went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221B Baker Street, even though that address wouldn't have existed back then. The museum was an old lodging building where they have created a facsimile of what 221B might have looked like. Slightly cheesy but a must see for real Sherlock Holmes fans.

From there, we went to the old Tate, called the Tate Britain. It was near closing, but we got to see the Blake exhibition, a re-creation of a solo exhibition he did in 1809, the pre-Raphaelites and the Turner section. I liked these more than most of what we saw at the National Gallery.

Then we had suppoer at the Opera Room of the Chandos Pub just off Trafalgar Square (nice, relatively cheap, pub food), used the internet cafe again for a while, walked up Charing Cross to find a bookstore, bought a road atlas and an Iain Banks book (hard to find in the US) at a Foyle's, then caught the tube out to White City just to see a different part of the city. We walked around there, from White City back to Shepherd's Green, past Westfield Mall, and then back to the hotel.

(pictures from London)

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