London: Day the Second

Posted by D on Sunday, December 16, 2012

So, about those summer adventures that I'm really behind on recapping...
S had to work on Friday, so I started my second day in London alone with a quick breakfast at Pret A Manger. (Those places are everywhere!) Then I headed over to King's Cross station in search of Platform 9¾ (there's a trolley half-smashed into the wall apparently), but alas, wasn't able to find it.

I didn't really have a set plan for the day, and figured I would just wander around and see what I saw. Unfortunately the weather wasn't nearly as nice as the previous day, raining off and on for the majority of the morning. I passed through Regent Square Gardens, and then Tavistock Square.
The park is filled with a number of memorials, including the likes of Virginia Woolf, Louisa Aldrich-Blake and Gandhi. (Reading Hind Swaraj and Other Writings for a class this year.) Apparently Tavistock House was Charles Dickens' last residence in London.

It's kind of amazing, the sheer amount of history at every turn in London. I went and checked out the Wellcome Collection. The displays were remarkable, ranging from a thought-provoking syringe + blood tube wall display to a library of the human genome to droppings and fleece samples from Dolly the sheep to tools from antiquity.
Some historical highlights included Charles Darwin's walking stick, Napoleon Bonaparte's toothbrush, literal chastity belts, and a fragment Jeremy Bentham's skin. ^ a little gory, but at the same time, kind of cool. Learned about Bentham's Panopticon in a critical theory class last year, and it plays a role in my current WIP.

Next up was the Grant Museum of Zoology, at UCL. The diversity of organisms is truly striking, when you really think about it. They also had a bunch of skeletons just casually chilling on the second floor banister (below).  
Did I mention it was a day filled with museums? The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology was up next (also part of UCL). L was headed to Egypt later on in the summer, but since I couldn't go, getting to see some artifacts on display was the next best thing.

Pretty hungry by this point, as it was late afternoon by now. Since I was already on campus, I went to the UCLU's (University College London Union) Print Room CafĂ©. The prices were quite decent, so I didn't think the portions would be too big, and ended up ordering the nachos and grilled halloumi. Definitely got a weird look when I went to pick up my food. It was delicious though. 
What can I say, halloumi's got me hooked. Although I haven't been able to find any back in Canada yet, unfortunately. Salad rocket/arugula is pretty big over in Europe. Went to some really big bookstore after this, but the name escapes me at the moment. Then I headed over to the National Gallery, which is home to loads of priceless paintings. Only managed to pass through a small portion of the rooms before having to leave to meet up with S. Seeing Van Gogh's Sunflowers in person was pretty cool - it's a lot smaller than expected.
We took a bunch of photos in Trafalgar Square and then headed for Indian food for dinner. (The British really love their Indian food!) It was a good thing that the food was delicious and filling, because S gave me a fairly crazy walking tour afterwards. I'm not entirely sure where all we went, but we crossed the Thames and wandered along the river bank for hours. There were street pianos and a giant purple cow stage (udderbelly... idek). The Tate Modern looks fairly cool at night, the trees all lit up and everything. Fireworks went off at one point.
Millennium Bridge looks awesome at night (below). It's awesome how from basically any point in the city you can see numerous landmarks. That really cool dome in the centre of the photo is St. Paul's Cathedral, which is a piece of really remarkable architecture.
After some timing mishaps with the bus, we finally got back to Bloomsbury. Getting to the hostel, I'd panicked a little when it seemed like I hadn't brought my plug adapter, and ended up charging my phone through a computer in the lobby for about half an hour. There was a bookshelf that functioned on the principle of take-a-book-leave-a-book, so I read for awhile. There was a copy of Catching Fire with the UK cover, but the inside inscription indicated that it had belonged to someone from Endeavour Hills in Melbourne, Australia.

It's more than a little amazing how travel brings the world together.

One Comment

  1. I love London so much, this post has made me miss it! You managed to get to heaps of museums I didn't have time to go, I'd especially wanted to see the Wellcome collection.


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