I took a Friday in April to finally explore London. Nearly three months in England had passed, and I had only ever used London as a transient place to get back and forth from Bath. I began my exploration by making a loop to cover the major iconic landmarks, starting with a walk down the Mall to view Buckingham palace.
I then took in the scenery around St. James’ Park, which was inhabited by all sorts of aquatic birds.
This then led me to Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and Big Ben. Ish. Big Ben is sadly unrecognizable, being absolutely smothered in scaffolding. But the other iconic buildings have amazing exteriors.
After a walk along the River Thames, hopped on over to the British Museum, which was filled with all sorts of historic artifacts. The Egyptian exhibit with its mummies was of course a major highlight. I hadn’t realized how much Greek influence impacted the art of sarcophagus decorating post-Alexander. I was also able to see artifacts like the Rosetta stone, and carvings for Sargon (They Might Be Giants and The Mesopotamians anyone?). Depictions of ancient lion hunting were also fascinating. The museum is huge, and you could probably spend days thoroughly perusing all the place has to offer, but I think I successfully hit the major highlights.
I then visited a little historic church of St. Bartholomew the Great’s. This was one of the most surprisingly nice additions to my day. After all the running around it was nice to take a breather on a bench and have a bite to eat in the wake of a nearly 900 year old religious site.
I then visited the Museum of London. This featured smaller exhibits that were more personal to the city itself. Bits of medieval clothing, a fascinating look at the terror of the Black Plague, and some recreations of Victorian era streets were some of the highlights.
After stopping by St. Paul’s Cathedral, I ended my trip with a visit to Hyde Park, the largest Royal Park in London. Unfortunately I made the rookie mistake of visiting on 4/20, and as such, rather than being a peaceful contemplative stroll, I was often surrounded by crowds of young people. But the surrounding scenery was beautiful.
I had taken full advantage of the day travelcard I had purchased, which let me bop around using the London metro system as much as I wanted, maximizing my efficiency. Interestingly, I don’t think the British really know how to handle heat. The temperature was a perfectly balmy 75 degrees (Fahrenheit) but reminders were posted all over the metro reminding travelers to drink water and seek help if they feel sick. Londoners can deal with rain, but apparently not the sun…
But overall, it was a fairly lovely day to take the time to properly explore the capital city of England.