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Published: November 11th 2010
Max: Today we are taking the train from Greenwich to the tube to start our day off in St. Paul’s Cathedral. We get there in time to visit and then for mass, which makes the experience all the more beautiful. The incense, singing, and the prayers make the cathedral come alive—it is not just a place to tour. Its life in the community is further told in stories of how civilians tried to protect the cathedral during the bombing of London and how thousands of people came here after the news of the 911 and the London subway bombings. Caitlin climbs the 372 steps to the Whispering Gallery above and I continue to marvel over the statuary below. We stay at the Cathedral for lunch and treat ourselves by bypassing the cafe and going into the very nice restaurant. We clink our glasses of Pear Nectar with sparkling wine, says “Cheers!” and both of us want to cry (and some of us do. Uncontrollably). We try to drown our sorrows with a wonderful lunch and another glass of wine, then a pudding for desert (neither one of us yet quite understands what a “pudding” is—there are so many variations!) and a
pot of Earl Grey tea. We gather ourselves, try for the Brit stiff upper lip, and go out into the sunshine.
Across the Millennium Bridge we head for The Globe Theater, the reproduction built by Wannamaker before his death. There are no plays this time of year since the theater, like the original, has no roof over the center. We spend time in the museum before we are gathered up for our tour. We head into of the interior of the globe, reconstructed as best as possible with materials of the time and using wooden pegs to hold it all together. Caitlin is, again, in heaven. We look down to the groundlings section and across to where the wealthy and those wishing to be seen would sit. It is amazing that plays took place every day in several in London and were heavily attended by such a variety of people. Our tour ends and we head next door for our last London stop, The Tate Modern.
We are both a bit disappointed in the Tate Modern. There is a beautiful Diego Rivera and it is wonderful to see original Picassos, Monets, Dalis, Man Rays, and all the heavy hitters of
Modern Art, but we are not thrilled with the building. It is difficult to get around and find our way through this warehouse feeling space. San Francisco MOMA, though so much smaller, feels to us so much more inviting.
Luckily we have the glow of St. Paul’s and the Globe Theater to keep us warm on our chilly walk through the South Bank to the tube station and then on to the train back to Greenwich. It is so sad to leave London for a last time on this trip.
The alarm goes off at an ungodly hour: we have a 6:30 taxi coming and we have been up late packing and repacking so that we can make the weight limit for our plane. With great regret I leave the jeans that I wore to hike Mam Tor—they no longer fit and just add to the bulk of my suitcase—but I get my hiking boots and walking sticks in. I’ll have to wear my good boots on the plane—they won’t fit in the luggage either.
The taxi driver is cheerful and wants to hear all about our trip and tells us about living in London: he runs this
The Millenium Bridge
Crossing the bridge to the Globe Theater and The Tate Modern. St. Paul's Cathedral is in the background
taxi as well as working a full time job. Too soon we are at Heathrow, through security (I have to take my boots off, of course) and now we can take turns guarding the luggage while the other goes to the Duty Free store for last minute gifts. We are almost the last people to board the plane…..and then we sit. And sit. And sit. The pilot finally announces that the third pilot is trying to make his way through London: a major accident has occurred and the motorway through London has been shut down. We are supposed to leave at 11 and we finally begin moving at 12:15. By then everyone is out of their seats and going through their carry-on luggage but we are finally are in the air by 12:30.
Good bye to England, Oh we will miss you! Thank you to Caitlin for being such a wonderful travel companion. I could not have done it without you!
Caitlin: The cathedral is absolutely glorious, the potted shrimp is heavenly, and the Globe is just really cool to be inside of, reproduction or not. My heart is absolutely broken by having to leave. Thank you so much
John, Paula, Sam and Dan for your kindness and endless hospitality; Roger, for your lovely company; and, most of all, to Mom and John for making this trip possible for me - it was an incredible experience. Who knows, maybe I'll be writing a travel blog of my own one of these days....
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