Sunday, August 3, 2014

Westminster and Beyond

It's so wonderful when what was once intimidating and overwhelming becomes recognizable and familiar. Success is when you can go to London, walk through the streets, navigate the tube, orient yourself with familiar landmarks, and recognize sites from previous adventures. But, success is also not being too cocky to ask for directions and consult those handy maps intended to keep tourists from loosing their minds. I am more experienced yes, but still a far cry from being a true Londoner. :) I'll take progress!

Karina and I began our latest adventure in London at Westminster Abbey. The abbey was founded in 1066, and the current building was erected by King Henry III in 1245. It has been the coronation church, where every English monarch has been crowned since its founding in 1066! Everyone from William the Conqueror to the current Queen Elizabeth II. It is also used for funerals, including Diana's, although she was buried at home in Wales.

The abbey is the burial cite for seventeen monarchs including Henry VII, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots. It is also the final resting place for famous writers and scientists like Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Charles Darwin, and Issac Newton. Poet's Corner, unsurprisingly my favorite portion, is also home to commemorative plaques to many other authors that weren't buried there like Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, and William Wordsworth. So much history, right in front of me!

Unfortunately, photos weren't permitted on the inside (trust me, I tried), but the building itself, inside and out, is an architectural triumph.

Karina had visited the Abbey before so she let me wander through while she had the much talked about Nandos on the lawn. True friendship.

Once in the Chapter House, we could take pictures again (phew! My camera had been so lonely). The Chapter House was built in 1250 and used by Benedictine Monks for daily meetings.
These windows are just a taste of the splendid, intricate colors splashed over all the walls in the abbey, letting in beautiful light.

As a general rule in old buildings, look up! The ceilings are always incredible.  
Wall paintings in the Chapter House. 

Apparently, the oldest door in Britain. After all the photos I have of doors, I couldn't resist this one.

The oldest section of the abbey, called the Pyx Chamber was built in the 11th Century and used as a monastic and royal treasury. 

Tribute to WWII soldiers. 

The hall of the Cloisters. The grass square is called the Cloister Garth.

Hall surrounding the Cloister Garth.

Sculpture on the front of the abbey.

Oh hey, Ben! Thank you blue sky!

Next, we hopped the tube to Trafalgar Square for the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery.
The square was bustling with people for the Eid Festival which is a Muslim celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

Look there's Ben in the background!

Statue of King George IV in the square.

 The National Gallery housing an amazing collection of art. Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Edgar Degas' Ballet Dancers, Claude Monet's The Water-Lily Pond, Michelangelo, DaVinci and hundreds of others!
The National Gallery.

One of many "floating" performers in the square. How do they stay up there?!

My first and last photo inside the National Gallery. Understandably, no photos allowed. 
Adjacent to the National Gallery is the National Portrait Gallery which houses more than 195,000 portraits. It has royals from the Tudor era and King Henry VIII all the way to Kate Middleton. There were also some other familiar faces, like Shakespeare and my beloved Dame Maggie Smith that I was delighted to see. 

Then, it was off to the British Museum for our final stop before meandering back to the bus station (and desperately trying to find some food. I'll spare you the details, but you DO NOT want to be around me when I am hungry and tired) ;)

The British Museum is the oldest museum in the world with 6 million items capturing 1.8 million years of civilization! It holds the Rosetta Stone, which dates back to 196 BCE. The stone is inscribed with a decree from the council of priests in hieroglyphics, demonic and greek language and worked as a key to decipher ancient hieroglyphs whose meaning had long been forgotten. 

The Rosetta Stone

Thanks London for yet another adventure of culture, history and amazing sights!
I'm going to miss when I go back to reality at home and can't just pop on a bus to reach this incredible city. (Sorry Portland, I love you too :)

1 comment:

  1. Hello Young Traveler...Thank you for bringing us up to speed on your latest adventure. And for sharing the beauty, history and magic of London with us once again. While I was delighted to hear how much more comfortable you have become navigating your way there ...I believe I also a caught a small glimpse not only of how profoundly captured your heart has become with Dear Old England... but for the first time felt a sense of saddness for the goodbye that will eventually come. Until that "Happy to be going to France" but "Sad to be leaving England day comes"...Carry on and keep breathing in every lovely moment. :)