Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Good Bye London

Avi: Eighty-six carats.
Rosebud: Where?
Avi: London.
Rosebud: London?
Avi: London.
Avi's Colleague: London?
Avi: Yes, London. You know: fish, chips, cup 'o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary Poppins... LONDON.

(From the Movie: Snatch)

London Gatwick Airport 11:25 AM, Monday May 28 - Last Hour in Europe

It’s still raining. I managed to get to London at one of the worst times – it hasn’t stopped raining since about an hour after I arrived. Now I’m just biding my time here at the airport – actually in time for once in my life. Sunday was another busy day of exploring London – this time I went with a literary theme.

First off I walked just down the road from the flat where I was staying to King’s Cross Station. I labored long and hard to find Platform 9 ¾ along with the other ten assembled tourists. Looks like I just missed Harry and Ron catching the Hogwarts Express.

Next it was to the center of all things literary in London at the British National Library. This may have been my favorite stop. On the first floor was a really cool exhibit of the books of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity including some very old sacred texts, a copy of the oldest known Quran, and several other landmarks.

Upstairs they had manuscripts from every famous author you can imagine, Dickens, Pope, the Bronte Sisters, and more. Also in the exhibit were original compositions by Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin, also the original Principae Mathematicas as well as letters from Newton and Galileo. Shakespeare was well represented with his four known signatures – all of which look different giving rise to the legend he existed in name only.

The most legendary artifact in the museum was probably the Magna Carta. Thing is, there isn’t just one Magna Carta. In 1215 when it was signed, it was a simple political agreement not meant to have long-lasting repercussions. The king even had the pope annul it a few months later. So no one copy remains but the Museum had 2 of the 4 that were probably made in the subsequent months after the meeting.

Next stop was the Regents Gardens, I’m not sure the literary connection but it seemed perfect for Alice in Wonderland, and a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream is performed here at an outdoor theater. There is also a long canal and a boating lake.

Continuing with my literary theme, off to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stomping grounds at 221 Baker Street. Sherlock wasn’t home, but I took a gander at some of his things. I also wandered down Baker street and just off Paddington Station. Next was a walk along the famous Oxford Street to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. People gather at this spot to espouse whatever they may desire – most of the people I saw were Christian fanatics, but my favorite stand had to be the two guys with a sign that said FREE HUGS. That’s all, just free hugs.

A walk through the park brought me past Harrod’s Department Store which I stayed a safe distance from. Then on to the Natural History Museum to bring out the little kid in me. Wow was it crowded. I couldn’t even get inside to see the dinosaurs because there was a half hour wait. Maybe next time I make it to the city.

The Science center had a really cool exhibit on James Watt and some cool ships but rather than letting me see anything they kicked us out at 5:30 so that not a single person would be anywhere close to the museum entrance by closing time at 6. Well six pretty much means closing time for everything I wanted to see, so it was time to explore what outdoor London had to offer. I just wish it hadn’t of been raining so hard. I took a stroll around the Chelsea neighborhood seeing houses of all these famous literary figures I should know but don’t actually. I saw someone else on the same route who I’m pretty sure was taking the tour to make herself feel smarter.

Next it was a walk along the river, yes still in the rain. Made it up to Trafalgar Square to say good bye to Lord Nelson. Down the Strand over to “The Monument” which I thought would be a lot cooler than it was. Still though I had to venture on to London Bridge and get one last gaze of the Tower Bridge and its huge columns. By this time I was soaked through and through so I wasn’t too excited about waling home but sometimes you gotta power through. A walk past the Bank of England was en route. I walked in the door to the flat and just stripped down and stood under the warm shower for about 20 minutes.

Today I discovered how buses work. Rather than going up and down all the flights and stairs of the metro, I got a direct bus from outside the flat straight to the bus station. No stairs. All my stuff even made weight at the airport and I had enough money for some food. Sometimes things just work out.

Well this blog hasn’t been too exciting, but I’ll have some final thoughts in a bit.

No comments: