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Published: October 11th 2011
Last night we had dinner with DNA Cousin Roger at the wonderful Kitchen Restaurant. We planned to meet early this Saturday morning and Roger is more than punctual at picking us up at our hotel. The blog for today will mostly be in pictures as there is no way that we can remember everything we did or saw.
Roger, who is a Londoner, has given us his week-end as well as many hours communicating before our trip to plan our few days in London as productively as possible. He will prove to be an excellent travel guide.
Making sure I have double knotted my shoes, off we go. Our first stop is Portobello Market and we limit ourselves to an hour although I could easily have spent half a day. Then we jump on the tube for a quick trip to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is a brief tour as we do not choose to climb the almost 400 steps to get to the Whispering Gallery or climb even more steps to reach the interior of the dome.
From here I am sure that I will get everything in the wrong order and leave out
far too much, but our next stop is the Museum of London. The Museum is a short walk from St. Paul’s and overlooks the ruins of the old Roman Wall which marks the edge of the oldest part of London. We spend several hours here and could have spent several days, but after a short stop for lunch in the café we make our way to the next stop, Fleet Street and St. Bride’s Church. Although there is a wedding in progress we are allowed to explore the catacombs and find more remnants of ancient Roman walls . Leaving St. Bride's, Roger leads us down-or was it up?- Fleet Street past the theaters, pubs, and publishing and newspaper houses. We go past the Temple Bar Memorial that marks one of many gateways that delineate the square mile of The City. This memorial, topped with a griffin-looking dragon, replaced the original stone gates that not only held up traffic but were no longer used, after the mid-1700’s, as a display spot for the severed heads of heinous criminals and traitors.
On a cheerier note, we head to Sir John Soane’s Museum, but confronted with a 45 minute queue, we opt
for a visit to Covent Garden Market. Oh, I could have done serious damage to our travel budget here! But, between John and Roger I am kept moving along but add yet more spots to the bucket list. (I think I am seriously going backwards here, but Cousin Roger has volunteered to send me an itinerary of our day, so I will get it right at some point.) Another spot for the bucket list is a set of massive black doors that will not open for us: Roger promises that behind them there is a Knight’s Templar sanctuary. And if that’s not it, I have discovered The Temple Church where I really, really have to spend some time on our next visit.
We head towards Trafalgar Square and are sorely disappointed. The Muslim Eid Festival is being celebrated and controls the entire space with rap music, video screens, and diatribes. The fountains have been turned off and it is not a happy place. We head into the National Gallery and absorb as much art as we can in our limited time frame.
To finish our day, we intend to tour Westminster Abbey- one of my favorite places in
the world- but it is closed. The rumor is that it is closed because of the Eid Festival and there are no information boards letting us know otherwise. We wander past Big Ben and The Palace of Winchester, discover a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Parliament Square and we also discover that we have run out of energy, are foot weary, and sorely in need of liquids. Heading back to Kensington we stop at the Churchill Arms and then Roger leaves us to find dinner on our own, which we are actually able to manage.
Late at night we take yet another zesty walk, one must wear off dinner by going the wrong direction to one’s hotel, and finally get our bearing and find our way.
Tomorrow is yet another day of touring London.
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