Facts and Fantasy in London

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January 21st 2008
Published: January 21st 2008
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With cold weather and shorter daylight hours, the museums and theatre seemed like a good choice. After we left the National Gallery Friday evening we remembered a colleague of Keith's had suggested we try to see "Wicked". It is a newer musical "the untold story of the witches of Oz." It wasn't in the Plan, but we grabbed up a couple tickets, enjoyed the references to the "Wizard of Oz". Audience was full of teenaged girls, up through college age. Contrasted to the more "mature" crowd we sat with at the "Phantom of the Opera", Saturday night. The art deco Apollo Theatre, where Wicked is playing, is next door to Victoria Station. Inside the Station we found of all things - a Krispy Kreme!

Saturday we spent a very long and informative afternoon at the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms. This is probably my favorite of all we saw in London. In 1939 the British Government's secret underground shelter became fully operational. "It is today just as the wartime occupants experienced it, during the 115 meetings of the War Cabinet". As for Winston Churchill, I want to know more. I could try to convey to you the whole of
floor in the National Museumfloor in the National Museumfloor in the National Museum

mosaic floor illustrating many attribues and disciplines
this museum, it is high tech and thorough, but I would not do it justice. Should you ever have the chance, go experience it and meet Churchill for yourself. "We are all worms, but I do believe that I am a glow-worm" some of his quotes are surprising.

Phantom was a classic play to see in Her Majesty's Theatre. The theatre was originally opened as an opera house in 1705. This is the fourth theatre on this site, and opened in 1897. Phantom has been playing from 1986, and we still hear the tunes in our heads! As you can tell from the photos of us on an empty bus, we haven't been in the middle of crowds, until now. Tons and tons of people in Leicaster square, the theatre district. The wait for a table before the play had us a little worried, but the service was quick, the food was good, and we got to the show in plenty of time. Walking back to the hotel in the rain wasn't a big deal either, since we had our brolly, and it had been such an inspiring day!

For the British Museum we decided to take a
Cabinet War RoomsCabinet War RoomsCabinet War Rooms

secret underground shelter
Highlights Tour, our guide Sue was very interesting to listen to. She had us feeling like authorities on the collections! Found one of my favorite things, a "tiki". Calling the statue from Easter Island a tiki is sort of blasphemous. It is the real thing! Sunday evening we made our way back over to the river and Westminster Abbey. Since we have been in Krakow, we've been to a few chamber music recitals in churches, and have enjoyed the interiors while hearing sacred music, so we knew to experience that in Westminster would be a treat. Again thanks to Keith's guide book we read there would be a organ recital in the nave of the abbey. No- he hasn't swiched from bluegrass to classical organ! But when in London...! To say that the music was breathtaking would be an understatement!

As I write this, I've asked Keith what his favorite things have been during the visit to Great Britain. He enjoyed walking along the Thames at night. I took a hundred, no exaggeration, of photos of Parliament buildings and Big Ben, and he was ever patient. I have this tiny little tripod for night photos and still can't get
 weather report underground weather report underground weather report underground

boards could be slid in and out with descriptions of the conditions outside, so that the inhabitants of the WW II headquarters would know what the weather was
a great photo! Just as you would expect London is full of spectacular views to go along with it's history and importance. Taking our time walking along the river and looking at old London from the other side with the night lighting will be one of those moments we will remember. I give Keith the business for being such a "planner", but we always have time to take it all in and appreciate where we are.

With one last morning before we left for Scotland, we hurried back over to Westminster Abbey for a verger guided tour. Our verger Ben was precious! "900 years in 90 minutes" was his goal! He did his best and our whole group was amused and educated, from it's ceiling to foundation, with all the abbey has within it's walls and under the floors! He led us through the abbey waving a little flag at everybody, the "verger" role, and rocking back and forth on his heels for emphasis!
Even though these European cathedrals and abbeys are places for monks and royalty, not to mention swarming with us tourists, it was humbling to hear the hourly prayers from the pulpit. The first prayer was

after the verger tour of the abbey
lifted up for the lonely people in the world, and the noon time prayer was for families. It was a meaningful moment as we felt felt close to God in such a huge and public church.

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


looking towards the theatrelooking towards the theatre
looking towards the theatre

from Victoria Station
Wall in the Apollo VictoriaWall in the Apollo Victoria
Wall in the Apollo Victoria

floor to ceiling decoration
Wicked stageWicked stage
Wicked stage

map of Oz
Keith in the British MuseumKeith in the British Museum
Keith in the British Museum

under the canopy of the Great Court

The real thing, Hoa Hakananai'a from Easter Island, now at home in the British Museum
Big BenBig Ben
Big Ben

I really am trying too hard with my little camera
 since we couldn't ride it since we couldn't ride it
since we couldn't ride it

we took lots of photos
Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

I believe this is the West entrance, into the nave of the church
Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

after the organ recital
Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

look for Keith to the left of the gate
Big Ben and the AbbeyBig Ben and the Abbey
Big Ben and the Abbey

one last picture as we leave. So many more things to see here, maybe another time.

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