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January 6th 2014
Published: January 8th 2014
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Three Days in London

I've been in London for the past three days which has given me just enough time to complete all of the essential tourist activities. I've been through Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, Tate Modern Art Museum, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, a riverboat cruise on the River Thames, and Windsor Castle. Of these, I found Westminster Abbey to be the most impressive; it featured stunning Gothic architecture (compared to St Paul's more Romanesque construction), parts of the Abbey were nearly 1,000 years old, and the amount of notable people buried there is astounding. Among the tombs, I was most interested to see those of Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Dickens, Geoffrey Chaucer, and C.S. Lewis.

The Tower of London, contrary to its name, is actually a fortress, the earliest parts of which date back to the days of William the Conquerer (mid 11th century) and there are still remnants of a Roman city wall in the fortress's interior dating back to the 3rd century AD. The Tower of London is quite formidable. It was the stronghold of England for many centuries, and it's clear to see why. With massive walls, an abundance of towers, and massive armories for stockpiling arms and armor, the Tower was all but impregnable (the only time the fortress was breached was during a peasant revolt).

The best way to get around London is via the tube. I've used this for four days now and have a pretty good grasp of the system. Today, after visiting Windsor Castle and Tate Modern, I decided to utilize my all-day pass and visit Baker Street (221B Baker Street is the residence of Sherlock Holmes), as well as King's Cross Station (where there is a platform 9 3/4, in tribute to Harry Potter).

St. Paul's Cathedral is also very impressive. As previously mentioned, it is more Roman in its construction, with a massive dome, yet lacking the Gothic arches of Westminster. In St. Paul's, I was able to climb over 500 steps to the pinnacle of the outer dome and gain a spectacular view of London. Inside the dome is the Whispering Chamber, the acoustics of which make it such that a person on one side of the dome can whisper into the wall and a person standing opposite the whisperer (we're talking 30 meters away) can clearly hear the whisper. I tried it and it worked. Crazy.

It's a Small World

I discovered something else crazy while at St. Paul's. As I was circling around the outside of the huge dome, I walked past an Olivet professor, followed by five or six Olivet students. I briefly talked to them and was just beginning to wrap my mind around how small the world is (especially the Nazarene world) as I made my descent back to the ground of the cathedral when I see another Olivet professor (one that I had had in class before). I stopped and talked to her and gleaned that a bunch of Olivetians were on a multi-week trip to England, and later to France. Such a small world.

For those of you who know me well, you will not be surprised to hear that I am not a city person. I have enjoyed seeing the sites and taking part in the rich history of London, but three full days has been enough for me. There are too many people, too many tourists, too much noise, and did I mention too many people? And so now I am grateful to be back home, even though it is -16F compared to about 40F in London. And so ends another international adventure. I have no more scheduled on the near horizon, though who knows? Thanks for reading!

Cultural fun facts:

Like Australians, Britons use the term "carpark" for what we Americans would call "parking lot".

London is the most diverse place I have ever been; I've heard other languages spoken more than I've heard English.

"Chips" are French fries and "crisps" are chips. (I've now had fish & chips three times in the past 20 days).

"Bangers" are sausage links.

I have not seen any chimney sweeps dancing on rooftops, nor have I heard anyone say "pip pip cheerio" or "'ello Govna!". Disappointing.

I was not able to have tea and crumpets with the Queen, either. Though I did tour her palace in Windsor Castle, she was away.

"Cheers" is a common replacement of the words "thank you".

The case of Jack the Ripper remains unsolved.

British television is about the weirdest thing I have ever seen.


8th January 2014

Brian, I've enjoyed reading about your travels and your energetic sightseeing. Thanks for sharing.

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