Friday, August 10, 2007

London

Hopefully this will be my final blog on my Scotland trip, even though I could post pictures forever, there are just so many other things to tell you about.

We left from Edinburough on a sleeper train just seven of us, Dr. B and Mrs. Donna, Me and Mac, Josh and his brother Ben, and Natalie. Here are a few of us with our heads out of our tiny sleeper doors. This was one of the most exciting parts of the trip for me, because I had never been on a train, let alone a sleeper train. We picked up cars throughout the night, and ultimately stopped seven hours later in London. I also took my first cab ride, my first "underground" or sub ride, and was generally amazed. We also bought the most expensive water of our trip there, it came out to just over $4. One other weird thing, everywhere we went the ketchup was called tomatoe sause and was in those little tomatoe shaped plastic squirt bottles. I was incredibly amazed by the British Museum and the British Library, one of those was my favorite part of the trip, though I can't decide which one. In The Museum I roamed for a couple hours by myself trying see it all, though I spent most of my time in the Greco-Roman, and Middle Ages area. I never would have dreamed in 6th grade when we were touring the Parthenon in Nashville, that a little more than 10 years later I would get to see the real stuff in the British Museum. I didn't get a good photo of the outside of the building but here is the expression on my face and here is two of my favorite exhibits: the Lewis Chessmen, the oldest in Europe, dating to the Early Medieval period, and a horse's head from the Parthenon.
I don't know how to describe the Brittish Library to you other than to say it was simply amazing. I was blow away by all the stuff that the little nation had accumulated over the years, but this place. I don't mean to be sacreligious, but it felt a little like I would imagine holy ground to be. It was a historian's dream. I was four inches from Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, I was 6 inches from Shakespeare's first folio, and I was a foot from 3 of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta. I was on cloud nine. They had the oldest known copy of the King James Bible too, but we couldn't get into to see that. There were too many people and not enough time. I kept telling myself that I was awake, and I asked Dr. B. "How can I get a job here?" It was amazing! I took a few photos with the flash off so as to not damage the paper, but someone stopped us after a few, and told us we had to buy pictures from the gift shop. Here's one though...

That was the first day in London. The second day we took a tour of the surrounding area. We were able to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford University. We couldn't take pictures in the Castle but let me say, if you ever get a chance to go, then do it. I wasn't sure how it would be but Matthew insisted that the best part of his London trip was Windsor and Oxford. It was MAGNIFICANT inside. I think the Queen could sell off everything in that one castle and be able to pull ALL of Africa out of poverity. It was amazing, huge, gold encrusted, and unbelievable. 2 hours wasn't enough time. Here are a few photos of the outside area. The second one is of the oldest part of the castle.

This is my favorite photo of stonehenge. I was a little disappointed. I guess I should have known that they would NEVER let us near the stones, but I guess I expected to be able to get some pictures without lots of tourist in them and get a little closer. Some of you may not know, and I won't bore you all day, but stonehenge is one of just many henges all over not only the British Isles, but Europe. There is a much larger cluster at Aveberry nearby, and there are woodhenges, and stone or wood henges on the seaside. No one is possitive what they were used for or who put them together. This henge is the third on the spot, and there is a nearby woodhenge that completes it. Best guess is that they were used for astrologic purposes. One fact to know, the Druids, HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH STONEHENGE. Tada, I am re-educating the world, one person at a time.

Finally Oxford was nice. One of the exciting parts for us was first, we saw the first ever Oxfam, and second we saw the Eagle and Child. Oxfam, is sorta like the salvation army, it was first founded in Oxford to meet the needs of families who couldn't afford the rising rate of goods. Needless to say like today, students made the most of it. Winn and I looked for these places all over Scotland, and managed to find more than half of them. The second place was the Eagle and Child, which was the pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and others met every third Tuesday to discuss what they had been working on. I just can't imagine what that would have been like. They were known to get a bit boisterous at times. The inspiration for Alice and Wonderland was here as well, Lewis Carroll taught Mathematic and Phillosophy for a time here, while he observed Alice playing in the garden below his window. We saw the Chesshire Cat's tree, and learned the reason why he smiled. It was because he could see into the clergy's garden. Since the clergyman disliked children Alice was never allowed inside and she called it the secret garden and was convinded that it was more wonderful than any other garden in the world.

Finally on our last day in London, we had a hop on hop off bus tour. Lots of major cities have these even in the US, and you can get tickets alot cheaper online ahead of time. I would suggest it, it enables you to easily get to most areas of the city you want to see and lets you get into various things at no charge. We spent most of the day at London Castle, built to terrify and intimidate. (It now also houses the crown jewels.) Then we took the cruise down the Thames River. We saw Big Ben, Parliment, spent extensive time in Westminster Abbey, saw the statue of Boddicca, walked through Trafalger Square, and went on a ghost tour of London. Here are a few of the best pictures.

White Castle the center of London Castle, oldest part, and home to torture chamber, famous exacutions, and burrying place for over a hundred bodies, and 13 members of royalty/nobility. Next, Big Ben and the Parliment Building from the River Thames.












This was Westiminster Abbey, which was incredibly moving to me. There were so many famous people beneath those floors, and so many people who tried to worship God just like we do (the try part, not in the same manner, of course). I made a B-line for Mary's tomb, and stood there for about 10 minutes in awe. I really have enjoyed learning about her. I was also saddened to see folks come through who said, just another queen or wanted to know if she was Elizabeth's sister Mary. I wanted to yell to you understand who she is, she almost became Queen of England instead of Elizabeth. Imagine how different the world would be! Alas. Then there is the Statue of Boddica. Mac did a project on her, and so we had to stop by. It was Boddicca that stopped the Romans time and time again from invading upper Albion (meaning white clifts, the old name for the whole of the British Isle). As the Romans could never get across the Thames it's kinda a fitting location for her statue.

The final picture that I will leave you with from our trip is one from our Ghost tour. This is Ye Old Cheshire Cheese. It has many claims to fame. Founded in the 1520's it burned to the ground in the Fire of London. However, it was the first building to be rebuilt in 1677. Making it the oldest, consistant running pub in all the English speaking world. It also was the home of the famous talking Parrot. It was said that it could cuss in more than 17 lanugages and over 150 papers recorded his death. Odd what we value, huh?

4 comments:

strem said...

WOW! What a trip, Dani. When we were in the Parthenon reading about how the original parts of the sculptures were in England, I thought about how nice it would be to see them someday. Little did I know that you had already seen them just weeks earlier. I've learned a lot from your trip recaps. Can you suggest a book that would help one learn more about Mary?

Dani said...

Ok, there are several really good Mary books, it kinda depends on if you want just a short overview or a detailed one, or just a really, really good read on the more scandelous parts of her life. So, with that said here are my suggestions...

Alison Weir's "Mary, Queen of Scts, and the Murder of Lord Darnley"--this one is excellent in that it deals seriously with the issue that but Mary out of the running for the English crown, it's also the most sensational part of her life. Ms. Weir is an awesome writer, it reads like a novel. One draw back, it's just over 700 pages. I'm still reading through it. ISBN: 0812971515

Jane Dunn's "Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens." This one is great in that it takes these two ladies and explains both of their lives and actions through the fact that they are both fighting to control the same throne--the English throne. It's much shorter and really good if you also want to learn about Elizabeth I. Only downside, it can get a little repeative. ISBN: 0375708200

There is also one short one on Mary that is just her. I'll have to go find the title again. But maybe that'll give you a starting point.

strem said...

Thanks, Dani. I appreciate your help.

beatrice said...

lord elgin in scotland has one of those crazy greek horse heads on his fireplace.

love the pictures! i still can't believe you're married! wow!