Temporary Brit

My three months of adventures in London!

Hampstead: Poshness and Parkland August 12, 2011

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Today, I headed just north of central London to Hampstead.  Like many places just outside of central London, it was its own village before being swallowed up by the city.  I can see that; Hampstead definitely still has a small-town feel to it.  It’s full of little shops, winding streets, and charming houses, and it’s much more peaceful than other parts of London. Keats (poet) used to live here, and his house is a tourist attraction (I didn’t go).  It’s also home to some of the most expensive real estate you’ll find anywhere.  According to wikipedia, some of the larger houses were selling for as much as 50 million pounds in 2008 (that’s about 75 to 100 million dollars, depending on what the exchange rate is doing), and Hampstead has more millionaires living within its boundaries than any other area in the United Kingdom.  I can believe that; they’re the only ones who could afford to live here!  Still…that info DOES come from wikipedia, as I said, so take it with a grain of salt. 🙂

 

One thing I noticed about Hampstead was that it was very “churchy.” Within a relatively small area, I spotted three Anglican churches, a Roman Catholic church, a Baptist church, a Unitarian chapel, and a Quaker meeting house.  That struck me as a bit unusual; while there are plenty of churches in England, it’s not the most Christian place in the world.  Why so many in such a small area?  Are Hampstead citizens more into church than the rest of the city?  That might be something to explore on another visit. This time, I settled for exploring one of the old churchyards, and found the grave of John Constable, the artist:

 

I liked Hampstead; it was cute, and provided a nice day out of the main part of the city.  I don’t know if the village itself is worth the trip for someone who’s not in London for very long, though.  The shops seem to cater toward the (wealthy) local population, so the average tourist probably isn’t going to find much to interest them.  It’s also not the best place to visit if you’re not a good walker, or have other mobility issues.  The streets can be be kind of cobbly and uneven, and there are definitely hills.  They’re also narrow, without much in the way of sidewalks in some places.  That was fine for me; I like walking, and I thought that the street plan added to the charm of the place.  For someone who might have difficulty navigating places like that, though….probably not the best place to be.

 

Even if Hampstead might not be worth it for the casual tourist, Hampstead Heath definitely is.  It’s a huge chunk of park to the north of the village high streets.  It feels a bit wilder than most of London’s parks; there aren’t any pruned flower beds and fancy gardens.  There are plenty of well-used walking paths, though, and it’s very popular with walkers, joggers, and dogs.  If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, though….you can. 🙂 The size of the place makes it totally possible to find yourself alone on some side trail that DOESN’T appear on any map, but it’s not really large enough that you’ll get so lost that you can’t get out again.

 

One of the nicest surprises in Hampstead Heath is this:

That’s Kenwood House, a mansion within the park that’s open to visitors.  I didn’t think I’d be into visiting old houses before I came to England, but between Kenwood House and the Wallace Collection, I think I’m sold. 🙂  Kenwood is situated in a beautiful part of the park, and the views are fantastic.  Most of the rooms on the ground floor (and a few on the upper floor) are open to visitors, and the art inside is fantastic.  There are paintings by all sorts of big name artists like Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Turner, to name a few.  My favorite part of Kenwood House was the feeling that it was just that: a house, not a museum.  I could imagine myself living there, back in the days when it was a private home.  I used to think it wouldn’t have been much fun to be rich in past centuries (too many rules, especially for women), but I think I might be changing my mind. 🙂  At any rate, Kenwood is definitely worth more than a passing look.  Admission is free, too!

 

Parliament Hill, which is within Hampstead Heath, is one of the places that offers a “protected view” of the rest of London.  I went up there just before leaving the park…but I wasn’t all the excited by what I saw.  Being up there and looking out over the city didn’t give me one of those “oh look, it’s London, I love this place” moments.  Instead, I just felt like I was looking out over any old jumbled up big city.  I think I prefer the view from Primrose Hill, in Regent’s Park.  Here’s one shot from Parliament Hill, just so you guys can see what I saw:

 

My camera was behaving a bit funny all day today.  Normally, it takes some of its best pictures when the weather is overcast, but most of the ones I took at Hampstead Heath ended up washed out, faded, and ugly.  I sincerely hope I was just overlooking some setting that I forgot to change, because I REALLY don’t want to have to deal with a broken camera or lens.  Keep your fingers crossed! 😀

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“To Canterbury-ward, I mean it so…” August 10, 2011

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Today was the first of three day trips outside of London that I have planned.  Canterbury, which I thought about visiting last time I was in the U.K., is about an hour southeast of London by train.  It also happens to be where Orlando Bloom comes from, if you’re into that sort of thing. 🙂
My train left from St. Pancras Station this morning:

(This was obviously taken from the inside, looking out.)  For all my fellow Harry Potter fans out there, St. Pancras just happens to be right next door to King’s Cross Station.  I did not, however, go and look for Platfrom 9 3/4. 😛   If anyone’s disappointed in me for that, never fear: the exterior of King’s Cross in the movies is actually St. Pancras.  It’s prettier than King’s Cross.  Also, remember in the first movie when Harry and Hagrid are walking along the skybridge at the station?  Yep, that was St. Pancras, too. 🙂

 

I arrived at the Canterbury West train station (there’s and East, too) which is a short walk from the city center.  Here’s the first look I got at the fun part of Canterbury:

That’s the west gate into the city…complete with random London phone booths. 🙂  The city center is very pedestrianized, with lots of winding little streets and old buildings.  It reminds me a bit of York’s city center, although you’ll find more chain stores in Canterbury as opposed to York’s independent shops.  Other than the town itself, there were really only two attractions I wanted interested in seeing.  The first was the Canterbury Roman Museum.  Maybe I’m getting spoiled by all the fantastic museums in London, but this was the first sight I’ve visited that didn’t feel worth the time and money I spent there.  The information on how Romans might have lived is good, and there are amazing ruins of a large Roman house in the basement that are pretty impressive.  Other than that…I wasn’t thrilled.

 

The main draw in Canterbury is, of course, this:

Cnaterbury Cathedral!  This was what I most wanted to see while I was in town, and it was worth it!  It’s huge; as soon as you’ve reached the end of one part and THINK you’re done with the whole thing…there always seems to be something else just beyond.  It’s one of the few big churches here that allows photography, but getting pictures of the interior that actually captured it the way I was seeing it was tough.  I don’t think I succeeded, but here are a couple of them anyway:

I think a different lens for my camera would have helped…I saw some nice ones on other people’s cameras! 🙂  The cloisters were a little easier to photograph with what I have:

I actually felt a little bit guilty taking pictures in the church, even though it was allowed.  Also, having so many cameras clicking and flashing all the time made it feel more like a tourist attraction than a church.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve spent plenty of time wishing that some of the other big churches that don’t allow photography, DID allow it.  Now I understand a little better why they don’t.  It DOES kind of detract from the atmosphere a little bit.  That’s why I’m glad I went back for the evensong service.  The place FELT like a church, and I could tell that the vast majority of us who were there wanted to see the service for its own sake, not as part of the whole “tourist experience.”  All of the resident choirs at the big churches are on vacation right now, but the visiting choir at Canterbury tonight was very good.  Plus, the…minister? Priest? Officiant? Leader? I don’t know the correct term for who runs Anglican Evensong, but the woman who was in charge at Canterbury’s service tonight was excellent as well.  She actually smiled, and it seemed like what she was doing really meant something to her rather than just being a part of her daily routine.  I liked seeing that. 🙂

 

Most of you have probably been hearing, reading, and seeing stuff about the riots in London and other cities over the last few days.  Don’t worry about me: it’s been very quiet in the neighborhood where I’m staying, and I had no trouble traveling to Canterbury and back today.  I DID see what I’m guessing is an increased police presence on the streets while I was there, but there was no trouble, and everyone seemed to be enjoying the nice weather today. 🙂  I didn’t encounter any problems on the Tube, trains, or any of the stations along the way, either.  I’m keeping tabs on the problem areas, and as of right now, none of my planned sightseeing is going to take me near those places.

 

Wine and War August 7, 2011

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Today I had company on my sightseeing adventures!  I got to spend the afternoon with my friend Helen and her housemate Geoff, who were both a lot of fun.  As much I like being on my own and discovering things that way, having some company has its advantages, too. 🙂

 

Our first stop was something that not many people get to see: Henry VIII’s wine cellar. Well, one of them anyway!  This particular cellar used to be part of the old Whitehall Palace, which (if you remember from my Banqueting House post) burned down. The entire room was moved at one point to its current location, in the basement of a modern, working office building.  That’s one of the reasons why it’s not open for visitors most of the time; people actually use the building for business purposes, and I was told that events are sometimes still held in the wine cellar. I was lucky enough to know someone who could show me around during “off” hours.  I’m glad I had the chance, because the place is really cool! It’s unbelievably well-preserved, and I had no trouble picturing it in use back in the 1500’s.  Would you like to see for yourself?

After the cellar, we went to the Imperial War Museum.  This wasn’t on my original list of things to see, because I’m not that into military history.  I figured that it would be all about battles, and tactics, and machinery, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!  This place was AMAZING.

We went to the Children’s War/1940’s house exhibit first.  I was blown away; the “Children’s War” section features all sorts of information about what it was like to be a kid in Britain during the second world war.  What really made it special were the personal things: toys, clothes, and small gifts given to the children by their parents, often before they were evacuated to the countryside.  Many of these items were lent to the museum by the same people who owned them during the war; the fact that they’re still in such fantastic condition is a testament to how treasured they really were.  It’s sad to think that something as seemingly unimportant as a tiny stuffed animal might have been a child’s only connection to a home and parents left behind.

 

The 1940’s house is basically what it sounds like; a series of rooms set up to look like they would have during World War II. What was especially cool was that most of the furniture and household objects used in the displays were actual period pieces from the 1920’s through the 1940’s.  Again, I was amazed at the condition that everything was in, and I loved the whole “I’ve gone back in time” feeling that being there gave me.  Here’s what your living room might have looked like, if you’d lived in England during World War II:

I wanted to make sure that I saw the permanent exhibits on both the world wars, with World War I being my priority.  We just don’t learn much about that one in the States, and I’ve always been curious about that time period.  Much like the museum of London, you follow a chronological path through the early 20th century and the beginning of the first world war, through the interwar years, and onto the second world war.  As I already mentioned, this wasn’t all military history.  There were uniforms, flags, notes, telegrams, and items that people actually used, along with information about their owners, when available.  It was HUMAN history.  It wasn’t all about battles and decisions and politics; it was about people, and lives, and how they were uprooted and changed forever by these colossal global events.  This museum didn’t just focus on the history of its own country, either; there were displays and information about many of the countries that fought in both wars…..including Germany and the Nazis.  That was hard for me to see, after taking my Nazi history class not too long ago and really digging into what they were all about.  I’m not sorry to see them included, though; history shouldn’t ignore unpleasantries.

 

Today really made it hit home for me how little we as Americans are taught about history.  We tend to focus on our own contributions, and all too often, other things fall  by the wayside.  Take World War II, for example.  Pearl Harbor was undoubtedly a tragedy, and it’s fantastic that there’s not only a memorial in Hawaii to help us remember, but a holiday as well.  Still…how many of you reading this know that an estimated 20 million Russians died during the war?  According to the IWM, they did.  That’s like the entire population of London being wiped out, twice.  All those children that were sent into the English countryside to avoid the bombings? Not all of them ended up in pristine country homes; some were treated little better than servants, and some didn’t have homes or parents to go back to after the war was over.  It was even worse for some of the German children who were sent away from home, thanks to Nazi policies.  This stuff is IMPORTANT, people.  I’m all about being proud to be American, and I don’t deny the importance of learning about what we as a country have contributed to world events. WORLD is the key word here; nothing that we’ve been a part of on a global scale has been all about us.  None of the history classes I took in my younger school days acknowledged this stuff in any kind of a significant way, which is sad.  WE JUST DON’T GET IT.  We don’t get what it was like to live with war in our backyards every day.  We don’t get what it was like to get up every day, wondering if this is the day that the our houses or our neighbor’s houses or our friends’ houses are going to be bombed.  We never had to send our children away to keep them safe, to my knowledge.  While we obviously know what it’s like to send our loved ones off to fight in a war, we DON’T know what it was like to have over a million of them not come back again, within the span of only a few years. Today….I got it, as much as a non-European can understand these things in one museum visit.  I can’t really put into words exactly how powerful this place and the lessons it has to teach us are, even though I certainly tried.  You really have to see it to believe it.  If you’re ever in London, do yourself a favor and visit the Imperial War Museum.  I think you’ll see what I’m talking about, and it’ll be a learning experience that you won’t soon forget!

 

Whew…that was kind of heavy!  I really hadn’t intended my blog to be anything other than a light, fun account of my trip.  I also hadn’t intended to post every day, but I think this is the fourth or fifth day in a row that I’ve written something.  I need a break, and I think that you guys probably do, too.  So, I’ll try and do something less interesting/significant tomorrow.  Also, I’ll try and be less wordy next time. 😛

 

Kensington: the Princess Palace August 6, 2011

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Kensington Palace from the back

So…my original plan for today was to spend most of the morning and afternoon at Hyde Park, with a stop at Kensington Palace before heading home.  What I didn’t know, however, was that  a huge triathalon is happening in Hyde Park this weekend.  Most of the streets in and around the park are closed for the events, making it very hard to navigate through the park.  I realized pretty quickly that it was probably going to be more trouble than it was worth, so I decided to head to Kensington Palace earlier than I’d planned.  Never fear, blog readers: Hyde Park WILL get its own day when I know it won’t be so shut down.  I really liked what I saw of it, and I’m looking forward to exploring it further!

 

Now for Kensington Palace.  It’s one of the HRP properties, which means free admission with my card. 🙂  Unfortunately, much of it is under construction right now, and isn’t set to open again until next year.  That’s why the photo above is of the back of the palace; the front is all boarded and fenced.  It’s a shame; the front view looks like it would be awesome!  At any rate, the state rooms ARE still open for touring, and they’re set up as an “Enchanted Palace.”  The rooms are more or less dedicated to seven of the princesses who lived there at one time or another: Queen Mary II, Queen Anne, Queen Caroline, Princess Charlotte, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret (current Queen’s late sister), and (of course) Diana, Princess of Wales.  Victoria actually spent her childhood right in Kensington, and became queen while living there.  Visitors to the palace are supposed to go on a scavenger hunt of sorts to uncover things about these princesses; there are clues in the form of handwritten notes, objects, and information books about all the art and objects that are in the rooms.  Normally, I’m not into super touristy stuff like that.  If I’m going to go to a historic sight, I’d rather see it set up as it would have been when people lived there, plain and simple.  I have to say….I really enjoyed Kensington!  The detail was AMAZING, and the staff was really helpful.  The disembodied child’s voice in Queen Victoria’s bedroom was kind of freaky as well….really eerie.  The palace staff was fantastic; I listened while one employee gave a group of visitors a short history of the palace and the monarchs who lived there, and it was super interesting.  I definitely plan on going back again, and I SO wish I could see the place when all the work is done.

 

Last but not least, a picture of the gardens; you can get in here without buying a ticket to the palace, I think:

 

A Park and a Palace and a Place of Execution August 5, 2011

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I thought it was time that I used my Historic Royal Palaces membership card again, so I headed out to Banqueting House today (that’s one of the five properties I get into for free).  Banqueting House is the only part of the old Whitehall Palace that survived a fire in the 1600’s, and it’s also where King Charles I was beheaded. Before seeing the actual place itself, visitors are directed to a video on the history of the place.  I found it interesting, since I’m into that sort of thing, but I can see how some might just want to skip it.  The part of Banqueting House that visitors are allowed to see is really just one room….but what a room it is!  Imagine the best wedding reception hall EVER; that’s kind of what it’s like. It’s very easy to image fancy balls and parties being held there.  Banquets too, of course. 😛

 

The ceiling is the real draw; it was painted by Rubens, and it’s beautiful.  There are mirrors placed around the room so you don’t have to strain your neck to see the artwork…although I looked up anyway. 🙂  Tea is also served there every day, and prices aren’t as bad as you think they would be at a place like that.  I don’t even like tea, but it would be an experience to drink it there!  Overall, I don’t know that I would have gone to Banqueting House if it wasn’t included in my HRP membership.  In fact, I KNOW I wouldn’t have. If I come back after my membership has expired, I doubt I’ll go again.  After all, it IS just one room.  If you’re interested in Rubens art or the history of the Stewart/Stuart kings, I recommend making a stop here. 🙂

 

After Banqueting House, I walked over to St. James’s Park.  Charles I actually walked FROM the park TO Banqueting House on the way to his execution, so I guess I did the walk in reverse.  Anyway, I spent quite a bit of time in St. James’s Park when I was here in London in 2009; my hotel wasn’t far away, so that was where I ended up by default if I needed a little unwinding time.  It was also where I went on my first morning in the city; I had collapsed at about 8pm the night before, so I was up EARLY.  As soon as it was light out, I left my hotel and headed in the direction of the park.  There was NO ONE else around, except some squirrels and a few joggers.  I had the park to myself, and I got to see Buckingham Palace up close (well, as close as you can get) with no one else around me.  It was a different story today, of course!  There were plenty of people out enjoying the park, and I can see why.  It’s a very easy park to enjoy! St. James’s is smaller than Hyde and Regent’s Parks, so it’s easier to navigate. There are plenty of paths for walking, lots of water birds (including pelicans), and the people watching is almost as good as it is from the steps of St. Paul’s.  Pictures from my afternoon at the park:

Another example of fabulous English gardening/landscaping

There were three or four of the tiniest, cutest baby ducks I have ever seen, hanging out with their mother in the water at the park.

One of the very photogenic views from the park.

 

Buckingham Palace from (more or less) the other side of St. James's Park

….aaaaaannnnddd that last picture brings me to the other thing I technically saw today: Buckingham Palace.  I didn’t get that close to it; too many people, and seeing it wasn’t really my goal for the day.  I figured I’d get a few shots while I was there, though.  I’m sure I’ll swing by there another time or two before I leave.  I won’t be going inside, though; too rich for my blood! 🙂

Buckingham Palace

Gate leading from the Buckingham Palace/St. James's Park area to Green Park. St. James's, Green, and Hyde Parks form a kind of row of greenery across London.

Actual gate to Buckingham Palace...and all the tourists waiting for something to happen. Not sure what; the Queen was not in residence today. 🙂

View down The Mall (street leading away from Buckingham Palace).

 

 

British Museum (and a rant) August 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — temporarybrit @ 9:43 PM

The weather was kind of nasty today (much colder and rainier than it has been), so  I thought today might be a good day to make my first visit to the British Museum.  I figured that I wouldn’t be the only tourist with that idea, and boy, was I ever right!  The place was absolutely MOBBED.  I didn’t mind all that much, since I’m planning on multiple visits and didn’t need to see everything today anyway, but I have to say….I’m starting to see why some people get so annoyed with tourists.  Seriously….I felt like I was the only one there who was aware of the other people around me and who tried to respect them and their space.  I can’t tell you how many times I saw people pushing, stepping in front of other people, and stopping in the middle of busy aisles, entryways, and walkways.  It was ridiculous!  It was almost as bad as when I accidentally ended up near Buckingham Palace during the changing of the guard; all I wanted to do was get to the park (which eventually happened), but while I was trying to make my way through the crowds, I was pushed, elbowed, stepped on, sneezed on, and my toes were run over with a stroller. I don’t hate crowds, by any means.  I wouldn’t be in one of the biggest cities in the world during the height of tourist season if I did!  What I don’t like are thoughtless crowds.  Seriously, people….if you’re visiting another city, just be aware of who and what’s around you!  Don’t push people out  your way, and be patient! Whatever you’re trying to see/photograph/do will still be there if you wait 30 seconds for the person in front of you to be done.  To all of you who DO try and be good visitors…keep up the good work! 🙂

 

Okay, rant over; onto the museum!  This was one of my favorite places when I was in London before; the sheer size of the place, and the amount of objects and artifacts is mind-boggling.  After visiting the V and A and the Museum of London this time around, though, I actually started to wonder I might actually end up liking one of those museums better.  That didn’t happen; the British Museum impressed me just as much this time around.  I’m usually kind of obsessed with trying to see everything that’s on display in places and getting my money’s worth (even when the place is free), but it was actually a relief to not have to do that this time.  I definitely made sure to see the Chinese rooms; they were my favorites last time around.  I particularly liked the snuff bottles, but I couldn’t tell you why!  They’re just tiny little things, only about 2.5 to 3 inches long, and I have no interest in tobacco. They just caught my attention the first time I saw them.  Here are a few from today:

The Greek and Roman exhibits are pretty fantastic, too.  I only took a brief look around today, but here’s a couple of pictures:

Nereid Monument

Thalia, goddess of comedy

The British Museum also has a fantastic Egyptian collection.  I visited parts of it back in 2009, but I have yet to see the mummies.  That’s because their room is always PACKED.  If it’s not packed with tourists, it’s packed with school groups. I don’t understand why; the whole museum is so interesting! Unless you’re REALLY Egypt-mad, why would you stuff yourself in there with 235478457 other people when there are tons of other great things to see?  I WILL get in there eventually, though, and I will post pictures of the Egypt stuff, since I won’t feel like my British Museum experience in complete until I do. 🙂

 

Last but not least: take a look at these chessmen:

Do these guys remind you of anything?  They did the first time I saw them.  They’re not an exact match, but methinks they may have provided a little inspiration for something. 🙂

 

 

Day of discoveries in “the City” August 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — temporarybrit @ 12:35 AM

One of my favorite parts of London is the area known as “the City.”  For the uninitiated, “the City” (spelled with a capital C) roughly corresponds to the borders of the old Roman settlement, and is currently London’s  financial and business district.  Most guidebooks aren’t kind to the City; they label it as boring, without much to attract tourists.  It’s true that there’s not much in the way of nightlife, but there’s just something about the atmosphere that I can’t get enough of. Plus, I don’t think guidebooks know what they’re talking about; there’s PLENTY worth seeing! 🙂

 

My main purpose in heading out to the City today was to go to the Museum of London. I’m really surprised that this one doesn’t get a bit more publicity with tourists; it’s really well-organized, and the exhibits are fascinating.  Basically, you follow the history of London from ancient times, through Roman times, medieval times, and so on until you get to modern London.  There’s a reconstructed Victorian street, and a great World War II presentation.  That may have been my favorite part of the whole museum.  Basically, they play this slideshow of pictures and video from the Blitz, and the only narration is voice overs from people who were actually there, sharing their experiences.  The majority of the items in the museum (even the ancient and Roman ones) are everyday things.  That’s what makes the Museum of London stand out for me; visitors aren’t seeing priceless works of art.  They’re seeing things that were used, and worn, and played with, and eaten off of.  Everyday life history has always been more interesting to me than battles, and politics! Here’s a sample of a few things that I saw:

Roman living room...add a flat screen tv and this could be a modern living room!

Ahhh, the theater....well, a model of one. 😛

I'm in this one, too!

Model of the London Eye from the "Modern London" gallery

Model of St. Paul's Cathedral

After the museum, I decided to just explore the City.  All I’d ever really done on my prior visit to London is visit St. Paul’s, and I suspected that there was more to this part of town than just the Cathedral, as fantastic as it is.  So, I walked up and down random streets, stopping in places that looked interesting.  I found the ruins of  Christchurch Greyfriars, which now contain a garden:

John Smith was also buried somewhere nearby (yes, THAT John Smith), but I didn’t find the exact spot.  I also discovered the Guildhall Art Gallery; talk about a place that needs to be more popular than it is!  It’s small, but the excavated Roman amphitheater in the basement is AMAZING.  It was quiet, and cool, and peaceful in there, and I had the whole place to myself!  No photography allowed inside, though.  You’ll have to come see this one for yourself. 🙂

 

Also near Guildhall was the church of St. Lawrence Jewry.  I popped in there for a little break, and while I didn’t have the whole place to myself, it was pretty empty.  It was no Westminster Abbey or anything, but it was still pretty, with interesting old memorial tablets on the wall, stained glass, etc.  Plus, it was free to go inside. 🙂 There was nothing specifically forbidding photography, but I didn’t want to disturb anyone in there who might actually be praying.

 

My last discovery was another church; St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate (how’s that for a mouthful???).  I really DID have this one to myself for awhile, and the silence was amazing.  In a city of millions (plus who knows how many tourists), it IS possible to find places to be alone, away from the noise.  I also find it amazing that London has so many pretty, historically important churches, monuments, etc, that places like St, Lawrence Jewry and St. Sepulchre get forgotten about.  Part of me feels bad that they’re not more well-known, while another part of me hopes they never are.  It’s nice to feel like I have “secret” places to enjoy.

 

I ended my day by St. Paul’s Cathedral.  I LOVE that place (so much so that it will get its own post sometime), and I can’t be in the area without at least sitting on the steps for a few minutes.  Plus, I’ve decided that I’m on a quest for a really GREAT picture of the Cathedral; one that hasn’t been done to death.  I haven’t gotten it yet, but I DID like this one:

People have asked my why I don’t do tour groups, and why I DO like to travel alone so much.  There are a lot of reasons, but today was a perfect example.  If I had been locked into a group, I never would have had the chance to go where I wanted, when I wanted, and see what I wanted.  I never would have discovered the Guildhall Art Gallery, St. Lawrence Jewry, or St Sepulchre -without-Newgate, and my time here would be that much less awesome for NOT having seen those places.  I can understand how some might like the security of a tour, but give me freedom over security any day!

 

All in all…this was the best day I’ve spent in London so far. 🙂