Saturday, September 24, 2011

London Day 2: 11/September 2011

Sunday: The British Museum didn't open until 10am so we took our time getting up and out. We love staying in apartments whenever possible—you can spread out more, save a little money and feel more "at home" than in a hotel. This apartment is nice if a bit sterile. It has no AC but thankfully the nights were cool. It is right alongside another building which happens to be under construction and wrapped in white sheeting. Not pretty. But: go down two floors, go out the door, turn left and walk a half a block and you see Westminster Abbey! Fabulous! It's also just a couple of blocks from St. James underground and a bus stop. Really amazing location for first timers in London!

What a view!
We determined that we'd use buses as much as feasible since they're a great way to see London while going from point a to point b. We hopped on a bus going to Victoria Station then transferred to one going to the Museum. Easy. We got off an easy four-five blocks walk from the British Museum. The streets were busy eventhough it was a Sunday morning. Weather--lovely!

Victoria Station-a hub of buses and trains

Up top, in front, for the best views of London!

You see so much by taking the double decker buses

We arrived at the Museum to find masses of people. We loved the covered courtyard—simply stunning! I asked about the 10:30am Highlight Tour but they don't do it any more--bummer. So out comes Mr. Steves and we follow his tour. Didn't really want the audioguide because we primarily wanted to see the highlights. We, and about a million other people, congregated around the magnificent Rosetta Stone. What a find! We followed the masses around the treasures in the Egyptian Gallery. I got bored quickly—I like Egyptian stuff when in Egypt but not so much in a museum. Hubby looked at everything , took masses of photos, and really enjoyed himself. We proceeded to the Assyrian rooms and those I found more interesting. Gosh, those Assyrian "manbearpig" doors were incredible. Really cool stuff.

Sorry, no more Highlights Tours...

Teh Rosetta Stone

Very crowded in the Egyptian rooms

He loves this stuff!

This is the "soul patch" of the Sphinx in Giza.
Assyrian "manbearpig"--huge and fearsome!

Gruesome battle in Assyrian rooms

We then toured the Greek rooms and enjoyed those treasures, especially the Elgin Marbles. I was raring to go to the British Library so we headed out only to find a torrential downpour. Instead of getting soaked, we decided to have lunch in the café, which was fine, and afterwards hubby really wanted to see the Japan rooms. Unfortunately the prints, which he most wanted to see, had been removed for a temporary exhibit so we left and went by tube (couldn't figure out the bus stop) to King's Cross for the British Library (rain had stopped already).
Very early Greek statues

Elgin Marbles

Samurai warrior in the Japan rooms

The British Library is basically next to King's Cross and St. Pancras stations. St. Pancras is so pretty—very modern and cool inside but outside is the magnificent façade that we've all seen in Harry Potter movies. Gorgeous. The weather was just lovely so we took lots of photos.
Happy--on my way to the Library!

We entered the Library and I was in my happy place. The outside is modern and uninteresting (especially compared to the glorious St. Pancras) but inside—wow! The Treasures Room has incredible tomes. I was in awe. I still can't believe I saw Jane Austen's notebooks, her own handwriting. Wow! Everything in there was incredible and priceless. Oh yeah, there's also a copy of the Magna Carta. Seriously awesome. Even hubby agreed that it was totally worth it to visit the Library.

Part of the Library with St. Pancras in the background

Outside we wandered all around St. Pancras taking pictures of the façade. We walked inside the building toward King's Cross and "Platform 9 ¾" which was not exactly obvious to find. Finally found it and had my photo op; the only others taking photos were little kids, lol. I am not ashamed of my love for Harry Potter! I'm due for a re-read—come on Kindle version!
This was "King's Cross Station " in Harry Potter

On my way to Hogwarts!

We grabbed the tube to Courthalt Gallery. It's in the gorgeous Sommerset House and is a really lovely collection, very manageable after a long day of museums. We used our 2 for 1 to save 6 GBP (nice!). We closed it down and afterwards, I navigated us to Gordon's Wine Bar, a great old place where we drank our wine in the company of a nice British couple. They live near Hadrian's Wall but the husband works in London and gave us some tips on where to go for dinner. We left Gordon's and walked over to Trafalgar Square, it was raining a little. I chatted with one of the cops while hubby took photos. He recommended the exact opposite places that the couple from Gordon's did! We walked onwards and had dinner and drinks at a place I can't remember, near Old Shades (which I only remember because it's the name of a Georgette Heyer book), which was good.

Lion at Trafalgar Square

Chatting with a copper

Big Ben as seen from Trafalgar Square

The Mayor's Thames Festival was going on so we headed toward the river and joined the crowds. We must've missed the parades but it was fun to be out along the river, listening to the music, wandering with fellow revelers, and enjoying the magnificent views across the Thames. We crossed Westminster Bridge and make our way back to The Sanctuary for a nightcap.  We got back to the apartment around 11pm. It had been a lovely day!

Beautiful night for a festival!

By the London Eye with views of Big Ben and Parliament

The Sanctuary for a nightcap

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