Coronations, royal weddings, kings, queens, statesmen and soldiers, poets, heroes and villains – history happens here and it’s all waiting to be discovered.
This is a church that welcomes the public in for services on a regular basis. It’s also a hallowed place with amazing people buried and memorialized there. We were overwhelmed to see the resting place for Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, Chaucer, TS Elliott, William Wordsworth; and an amazing list of monarchs and their consorts, and prime ministers. I touched the crypts of Chaucer and Richard the Lionhearted. We paid an extra 5 pounds to go upstairs to see the Queen’s Jubilee Exhibition, where we saw, I shit you not, the Magna Carta. Earlier in the day, before we headed over to Westminster, we watched the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace … and waved to THE QUEEN as she was driving out of the palace. Best. Day. Ever.
Crown Jewels. Do I need to say more?
The Tower of London is on the bank of the River Thames, and over the last thousand years, its been a royal palace, political prison, royal mint, and arsenal. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, houses the world’s largest cut diamond, and has a rookery with creepy ravens. As our son is fond of saying, don’t look them in the eyes.
We made it to three museums during our week in London … which is about two more than usual. But like I said: cold and rainy. Here’s the highlights:
The Victoria & Albert Museum was a free ball of fun, and a great way to spend a rainy morning. We saw one of DaVinci’s codexes, which was amazeballs. They’ve got a cool section on casts, like from ancient Egypt and crypts.
We’re long-time fans, and occasional members, of MOMA, so modern art is our jam. After spending the morning at the Tower of London, we walked across the Tower Bridge and had lunch and ambled along the Thames until we came to the Tate Modern. It was okay. I’d give it three out of five stars, mostly for the Modigliani, Picasso and Lichtenstein. I was glad it was free.
But perhaps my favorite museum was the British Museum, with its unparalleled Egyptian collection, Byzantine history, Greek and Roman sculpture, the world of Alexander the Great, and so much more! But perhaps the most awesome was their temporary exhibit on Troy and the Trojan War. The general museum is free, but we paid for the Troy exhibit , and it was so worth it.
I was thrilled to adventure through London last week, even though it was rainy and cold five out of six days. We managed to take 99,488 steps and cover 43.4 miles, add two UNESCO World Heritage sites to our list, touch Chaucer’s tomb, look at the original Magna Carta, see the Queen leaving Buckingham Palace, and run across the newest installation of Collette Miller’s Wings at Heathrow.
We stayed in the Mayfield area, abutting Green Park (with Buckingham Palace across the park) and an easy walk to the Green Park underground entrance. Perhaps one of the best things we did in preparation for the week was order a 7-day Travelcard, which gave us access to all metros and bus lines the whole week. We saved a ton of money not relying on Uber or any car services at all.
I loved London. The people were so friendly, things were surprisingly affordable, getting around is easy, and it’s one of the few international destinations we’ve been to in the last few years that didn’t require translation on the spot. I could move there tomorrow.
At the Women’s March in Raleigh, January 2020.