We start our day by heading to the British Library.
Here is a treasure trove of rare books, manuscripts, and other items. You can look at the magna carta, song lyrics written by the Beatles on a napkin, and see handwritten copies of some of Jane Austen books. There are maps, rare illuminated manuscripts, and sheet music from composers. Leonardo Da Vinci notebooks, music from Handel and Bach. There is so much to see here I could spend hours in here. However we must press on, and out we stumble, back onto the tube and out to explore St James’ Park. London’s parks are beautiful, even on cold dreary days like today. Taking the time to walk through we get accosted by cheeky little squirrels that hope we have food for them. Swans, geese and ducks also beg unabashedly. As we near the end of the park, and our destination:Churchill’s war rooms, we see some white pelicans.
These were a present to Charles ll from Russia in the 1600’s. Slowly we cross the street and head underground. Here we tour the rooms that Churchill and others used to run WW ll and defend the world from Hitler. Its amazing to see, the warren of rooms, and work that was all conducted in secret here underground, as London was being blown to bits above. Churchill had a fascinating life, which is chronicled in a huge multimedia room at the end of the exhibit. I leave feeling awed by what the people who lived in this not very distant past endured, and overcame.
Saying that my first trip to Europe was on a shoestring budget is understated. The only time I ate at a restaurant when I was in London was at Wagamama (again recommend by Rick Steve’s) and we head out to find one for dinner, hopeful that its as amazing as I remembered. Its good, however I can’t say that I’m blown away. This is one of my least favorite things of travel…in our memory things can be so wonderful, amazing, and awe-filled, that we tend to blow them up in our own mind…going back to re-visit is never quite the same, which can be a bit of a let down. After leaving Wagamama sated and full we head across the river to the Tate Modern, which is open late. Every time I go to a modern art museum I try to talk myself into enjoying it. Being cultured. And every time I am annoyed by what they call art. Why is there a section of duct work on display? How does a solid black canvas represent anything other than an ability to paint uniformly? There is a board on the wall with nails hammered into it…my boyfriend loves it and waxes poetic about it…all I can see is that its dusty and in desperate need of a wash. Deciding to embrace my Philistinism (is that even a legit word?)I head to a couch to rest my feet and legs, as I pretend to look thoughtfully at a exhibit. I’m sure everyone can tell I’m an impostor. Finally leaving we walk across the millennium bridge-(which is a hazard in the rain) teenagers run by skating in the rain on their shoes, falling down, giggling. In front of us St Paul’s Cathedral looms up in he dark, its dome beckoning. (if you ever get the chance, the whispering wall is something you must try!)
Its now pouring and the gusting wind makes our umbrellas pointless. I laugh as my boyfriends gets turned inside out and breaks apart. However karma is quick (as is usually the case) and minutes later I’m left with a crumpled skeleton worthless against the pelting rain myself. Giggling we head back to our apartment, ready for a hot shower and dry clothes.