April 26, 2016
Now that I have gotten the important sites to view out of the way and feel like I’m a little more comfortable roaming around London, the next couple of days will definitely have a lot more photos to tell the story. I knew that I needed to capture the unique place in London in which I was staying, so on my mile walk to the tube, I snapped what I saw. Shoreditch is an area in London that life has taken over the dreary walls and warehouses. The people are versatile and young. The walls are looming with art. Street art was seen all over the place and I would say that I never saw an empty wall. It was teeming with colors and shapes all so different. Take a look below!
My first stop of the day would be at the British Museum, where the main attraction would be seeing the Rosetta Stone. Now, I hadn’t done much research about it before getting there, but I was eager to learn. The British Museum was tucked away in this unassuming neighborhood, but the size was HUGE! You walk inside and it’s all of this glass ceiling, making the atmosphere inside feel spacious and light. It was a free museum, though I purchased a map so I could navigate through.
I swear that the map directed me to the fourth/fifth floor to view the stone, but it was not up there. I did, however, get to see a lot of ancient Egyptian mummies (including Cleopatra!) which ended up being awesome.
It’s always strange when you’re on vacation and you realize that not everyone else is. The above is just an example of how many students and classes were taken to the museum on this particular day.
Finally I asked someone to direct me to the Rosetta Stone, which happened to be on the very first floor off in a side room. I walk into the room and it’s just right there in front of me. Honestly, I had no preconceived notion of what this slab looked like nor the history behind it. It was this giant, black slab of marble-looking stone and almost a foot thick. It was originally part of a larger piece that commanded a law into place with the various translations of it engraved. It’s only a portion of the law that was found and recovered, but very important. Because of this, we were able to start understanding hieroglyphs. What an amazing piece of history.
After roaming around the museum, I left to make my way over to St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose dome still rules the London skyline. Inside was truly majestic and marvelous. I secretly took some photos just to capture a part of what it looked like, but I’ll only post a few. I asked a woman why photography wasn’t allowed in these glorious buildings and she explained that it’s still a functioning church and the clergy find it disrespectful when people would be taking photos during service.
I went through the guided tour fairly quickly because I had a ticket to go on the London Eye this day! My ticket (the London Eye Champagne Experience) ended up being much more exclusive than I realized. It was only myself and two other people waiting inside for our guide to pick us up. Once she arrived, she walked us over the the Eye, passed up everyone in line, and got on the next pod. It was me, a man from Norway, a woman from Brazil, and the English tour guide. Our guide poured us each a full glass of champagne and talked about the city and its skyline. And actually, the London Eye was built to open in 2000 for the celebration of the millennium with an expectation to stay open for 2 years. 16 years later, it is now a standard in the skyline.
Look, there's St. Paul's Cathedral!
So, the above picture is important.
I learned, as we were looking across the city, that London doesn’t allow buildings to be painted with any color. The colors have to be from the original material used. However, the colorful buildings you see in this image, that is the Google headquarters in London. I guess they get special privileges.
Usually these pods will hold up to 25 people, but since it was only four of us, the pod was spacious.
Once we got off our pod, I still had my voucher for the Eye Bar – I guess I was supposed to do that BEFORE the Eye ride, but I was running late. I’m just happy I got to do it all still. I got to pick a drink, and I chose the London 75 cocktail. This lemony and strong drink was made with Sipsmith London Dry Gin, sugar syrup, fresh lemon juice, topped with Pommery Brut Royal champagne. I felt like a rock star in this little cocktail bar.
Definitely got a few more shots of Ben – why not!?
Then I just roamed taking shots of Big Ben before I met up with a friend I knew from college. He would take me to dinner at a place called Nandos, which was refreshing. We made our way to SOHO, grabbed some beers at random spots. Eventually I did head back to the AirBNB. Lucy and Al had some friends over when I got in. They came out and were concerned they had woken me up, but had told me that they got married that day! WHAT? I stayed up drinking wine with them and 2 of their friends. Lucy is from Slovakia, Al is from Turkey, and it was just so interesting to listen to them. At some point, they brought up the election and Trump, which turned into a conversation about politics and war. I felt so uneducated the way they were able to rattle off dates of when wars and events happened. It was eye-opening to understand that these aren’t merely news stories, but life events. Because all of the countries in Europe are close in distance, they remember a lot more.