Sunday, April 17, 2011

Off With Her Head!

Tom was quite insistent on the title of this post, since we visited the Tower of London today where more than one woman and significantly more men were parted from their heads.

I didn't post yesterday, as I find London quite overwhelming and I was overloaded and ready for bed.  We got into the city, found our hotel and then visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural Science Museum, and Harrods - a small city cum department store.

The Victoria and Albert had an astonishing array of art in the form of sculpture, jewelry, furniture ... basically art that is not on a canvas.  I enjoyed it, particularly the sculptures and the large collection of Indian artwork.

The Natural Science Museum was significantly more crowded.  Tom wasn't feeling so well, so we took a break in the picnic room, then took the lift to the top of the museum with the intent of working our way down.  In the end, we only really saw one room, but it was huge and filled with specimens of every different kind of rock.  SO MANY ROCKS!  Apparently we both enjoy rocks and were able to spend a good deal of time working our way through.  We skipped the rest of the museum, because it was overrun with people and we were tired and it was dinnertime.

Harrods for dinner.  This is the only store I have been to where they hand out maps when you go in.  People everywhere.  Bling.  At least three rooms of handbags.  The food halls, which I was lost in, and that was only one section of one floor.  We ate in a cafe, which was a little above and set off from the hubbub, which helped then beat a hasty retreat (on my part, at least) back to the room.

Today, we started with the Tower of London, which is in truth a castle complex, and also a royal palace, although no longer a residence.  I enjoyed the tour provided by a Yeoman Warder (Beefeater).  The London Marathon was going on today, and a helicopter circling overhead could not out-noise this man.  I was impressed.

Also at the Tower are the crown jewels, and a collection of historical armor, including a number of pieces of Henry VIII, which definitely show that he was a larger man.  Another suit of armor is there that was built for someone 6'8", the tallest suit of armor known.

For a bit of an adventure, I dragged Tom to Whitechapel to try to track down the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which has been in business for centuries, made many large, famous bells (including the Liberty Bell, I think, although I'm not certain), as well as the medieval bells that we use at Camlann.

After getting off the tube, we found that Whitechapel is almost like hopping off the street in India or Pakistan.  White people are the definite minority, sari shops and ethic food of many varieties everywhere, and the only neon sign I ever expect to see advertising "pizza kabab".  Given that I had no idea where in Whitechapel the foundry was, I popped into a cafe and asked directions.  One of the ladies at the register had no idea what I was talking about, but the other gave me directions to "walk down the street to the mosque and it's just past it on the right".  The mosque in question is the East London Mosque.  Huge numbers of muslims in the area.  A little disconcerting to find the little building across the street labeled "Church Bell Foundry".  It was closed, this being a Sunday, but I got my picture taken with the sign.

Then it was back to Westminster (fighting marathon crowds again, as at the Tower of London) and onto a river cruise boat on the Thames, down to Greenwich and back).

Another long day, and only one left.  The plan for tomorrow includes the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the British Museum and possibly going to see The Lion King.

No comments:

Post a Comment